Angels general manager Billy Eppler typically meets with Scott Boras, perhaps baseball’s most powerful agent, in the weeks leading up to the offseason. With Boras representing the top free-agent starters and the Angels seeking to upgrade their rotation, it stands to reason that tradition will not change this year.
Eppler on Wednesday declined to reveal if he has already sat down with Boras to discuss signing clients Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg, Hyun-Jin Ryu or Dallas Keuchel.
But Boras wasn’t as shy when he spoke to reporters during the final day of the general managers meetings. He went a step further and announced that he has already lunched with Angels owner Arte Moreno, holder of the team’s purse strings.
Meetings between agents and team executives are, of course, common. Yet there is public perception that the relationship between Boras and Moreno is a frosty one.
They had a fallout over negotiations to retain Mark Teixeira, who batted .358 for the Angels in 2008 after being acquired at the trading deadline. He spurned their $160-million offer and signed with the New York Yankees for $180 million. Moreno was said to be livid because Boras did not even respond to the Angels’ offer.
Apparently, that’s long forgotten. Eppler, who has dealt with Boras for nearly two decades and worked under Moreno since 2015, said he has never noticed animosity between Boras and Moreno.
If Moreno harbors any ill will, Boras is not privy to it.
“It’s so distant, I don’t remember” the feud, Boras said. “I sit down with the guy every year. I see him all the time. We have a common restaurant that we run into one another. So I wouldn’t read much into it.”
Indeed, the Angels signed a Boras client in Matt Harvey last winter. They have at least two players in the organization, top prospect Jo Adell and reliever Noe Ramirez, who employ Boras.
There is no indication the Angels would shy away from Cole solely because he is represented by Boras. As offseason negotiations kick into gear, expect the Angels to stay in the conversation to the sign the 29-year-old Orange County native, who finished second in the American League’s Cy Young Award balloting after posting a 2.50 earned-run average and striking out an MLB-leading 326 batters for the Houston Astros.
Eppler isn’t ready to set a public timeline for the major league debut of Adell, the most heralded prospect to come through the Angels farm system since Mike Trout. But he conceded this week that Adell might still need seasoning at triple A.
Adell missed nearly two months last season recovering from ankle and hamstring injuries in spring training. He appeared to hardly miss a step when he returned to double A, hitting .308 with a hefty .553 slugging percentage in 43 games. A promotion to triple A, however, didn’t go as smoothly. He tallied only 11 extra-base hits in 27 games and struck out 43 times.
Playing in the Arizona Fall League and for the United States Olympic qualifying team has helped Adell catch up and improve his play in the outfield corners, which is where he is projected to debut with center fielder Trout under contract for the next decade.
Yet it is premature to assume the Angels’ decision to part ways with Gold Glove outfielder Kole Calhoun means Adell is going to compete for an opening-day roster spot.
“There’s a lot of the elements of the game that he can get better at, just like there’s a lot of elements of the game that a lot of young players can get better at,” Eppler said. “I would just watch to see how things unfold and know that he’s had limited at-bats in triple A right now, and in those at-bats, he’s performed at a level consistent with when he first got to double A [and struggled].”