LAKE BUENA VISTA — After agent Scott Boras spoke kindly of the Nationals on Sunday for their unexpected expenditure in signing free agent OF Jayson Werth for a stunning $126 million over seven years, he made some interesting comments on a team that won't be spending much, the Tampa Bay Rays.
Boras stopped short of directly criticizing Rays principal owner Stuart Sternberg's plan to reduce payroll, taking the tack of praising executive VP Andrew Friedman's and manager Joe Maddon's efforts in building the team and suggesting it was too bad they can't finish what they started.
"I don't really want to comment on ownership, I just know the Rays, the baseball people in Tampa have done a great job, the manager, general manager, they really put together a great team," Boras said. "And when you see the architect's work, you'd like to see the building finished. And there aren't many architects that can do that.
"So for the game, and to see the game grow and do things, you like to see periods in time achieve its ultimate fruition."
After pushing their payroll to a franchise-record $73 million last season, and not getting a significant increase in attendance despite winning the AL East Division, the Rays are cutting back, headed below $60 million, and letting go of several top free agents, such as Carl Crawford, Rafael Soriano and likely Carlos Peña.
While saying he wasn't speaking to the Rays' specific situation, Boras said he'd like to see every franchise that has "the wherewithal to win" allow its players and executive that opportunity.
Boras had a vested interest in the Rays spending more, of course, given his large base of clients. And he has had some direct dealing, as he also represents Peña, who isn't going to get the big dollars he seeks from the Rays and is expected to leave, with the Nationals, Cubs, Orioles seriously interested.
Boras, coyly, didn't rule out a return to the Rays, saying: "I don't want to draw any conclusions because I've been in this business long enough that when teams say they aren't doing something in November, and then they're going to do something later on because it changed — a trade or the owner decides that I really am that wealthy, and I can take those steps and advance my payroll when I'm successful instead of moving it back when I'm successful."
WERTHY BID: The Nationals were something of a surprise choice for Werth, but Boras said GM Mike Rizzo and team ownership sold the 31-year-old on their commitment to turn the team into a contender by being "a prominent player for talent."
That's good for Peña, who has been on the Nats' watch list for a while. "Carlos is in the mix, he's in the conversation," Rizzo said.
Werth's deal was also good for soon-to-be former Ray Crawford, whose already good position as the top free agent position player just got better. He now can seek to top Werth's average of $18 million a year, with some speculating as much as $180 million over eight years for the leftfielder, and he didn't lose any of the teams expected to be serious bidders — the Angels, Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers and potentially Yankees.
ALMOST FAMOUS: Former Yankees boss George Steinbrenner is the most interesting candidate and former players union chief Marvin Miller, who pioneered the system that led to free agency, appears the most likely to be elected to the Hall of Fame this morning when the veterans committee voting is revealed.
"For the Hall of Fame to be the Hall of Fame, the credibility of it, requires Marvin Miller to be in it," Boras said Sunday. "Because you cannot deny the fact that the man's vision has altered the game and created a modern-day platform for baseball that did not exist prior to his time."
Miller, Steinbrenner and longtime GM Pat Gillick are the three biggest names among the 12 (managers, executives, umpires, long-retired players from the expansion era) on the ballot that was reviewed by a 16-man committee of Hall of Famers, owners and media.
MISCELLANY: The deal to send slugging 1B Adrian Gonzalez to Boston from San Diego, which appeared in jeopardy when the Red Sox failed to reach agreement on a contract extension by Sunday's 2 p.m. deadline, apparently will go through after all. … The Blue Jays were reportedly on the verge of trading RHP Shaun Marcum to the Brewers for a prospect. … DH Manny Ramirez, who could be a possibility for the Rays, is open to a one-year deal, Boras said.