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Brown’s Agent Takes a Swing at the Critics

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Exasperated by attacks on the Dodgers, the agent for pitcher Kevin Brown revealed Thursday there were three other teams willing to match the record-setting contract the all-star right-hander signed with the ballclub, and struck back at critics of the process.

Scott Boras said the Dodgers were among four teams willing to pay Brown as much as $15 million annually, debunking the perception the club bid against itself in signing the former San Diego Padre to a seven-year, $105-million contract. Moreover, Boras said his critics, Padre President Larry Lucchino chief among them, are misdirecting their frustration about the market toward him.

“This is a case of someone being upset with the market message, so they try to shoot the messenger,” Boras said. “The fact of the matter is that there was a market that existed for Kevin Brown, and there were several teams willing to meet our [contract] parameters, in terms of both years and dollars, from the outset.”

Boras said many teams were eager to meet Brown’s contract requests, understanding the pitcher wanted a six-year deal that would make him the game’s highest-paid player at $15 million per season. Although Boras declined to identify the clubs, two industry sources said the Baltimore Orioles, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals were the others legitimately in the Brown derby.

And two of those clubs were willing to outbid the Dodgers, but they weren’t given the opportunity because Brown wanted to work at Chavez Ravine. Late last Friday, Boras informed General Manager Kevin Malone that Brown wanted to be a Dodger, and the details were finalized early Saturday morning at the annual baseball winter meetings in Nashville.

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“In my negotiations, I went to a variety of teams and set the limits at six years and the amount of money [$15 million annually] that we were seeking,” Boras said. “I went to all the teams and asked them if they wanted to be involved, and they all said, ‘Yes.’ There was a base point we were looking for, and from my conversations with teams, I knew we could get it.

“I basically knew that the Dodgers were his primary choice, and I went to the Dodgers and told them they could have exclusive negotiations if they went to a seventh year. From there, it was just a matter of figuring out what it would take to get it done.”

The Dodgers stirred concern and anger throughout the industry Saturday when they acquired Brown by completing the groundbreaking deal, which includes the use of chartered jets to fly Brown’s family from their home in Macon, Ga., to Los Angeles as many as 12 times each season. Criticism of the deal has not waned, especially because many baseball officials believe Boras duped the Dodgers, and their Fox Group superiors, into believing they were engaged in a bidding war.

As a result, Lucchino has consulted with other team executives in an effort to alter the free-agent bidding process, baseball sources said. Lucchino has proposed establishing an information-gathering apparatus that would force agents to disclose offers publicly, protecting clubs from overpaying by preventing agents from misleading those bidding.

“That Larry is suggesting that there should be some sort of information system shocks me because this is the type of thing that cost the owners $380 million,” Boras said in reference to the collusion settlement in 1988. “That Larry is taking the position that I impacted Fox to do something they wholly did not want to do is ridiculous.

"[News Corp. Chairman] Rupert Murdoch is one of the most savvy and entrepreneurs in the world, and all the Fox-based entities are run by people who know what they want to do. These are not people influenced into doing things they don’t want to do.”

Boras said Lucchino’s motives are transparent.

“This man is obviously very biased,” Boras said. “I spoke to Larry a couple of times in the negotiations and he wasn’t too concerned with the situation. He kept saying, ‘Is he going to St. Louis, is he going to St. Louis?’ Then he got wind about the Dodgers.

“What’s interesting to me is that Larry attacks my credibility, and four weeks ago he’s inviting me to San Diego to watch games with him. Essentially, this is result-oriented behavior, and I really don’t even want to get into this, except to say there definitely was a strong market for Kevin Brown.”


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