The big news out of Kansas City is that Bubba Starling is now in the fold.
The bigger news, however, might be that the Royals went toe-to-toe with two of the biggest behemoths in sports and came out victorious.
The Royals stared down both the Nebraska Cornhuskers and agent Scott Boras, waiting to see who would flinch. Not only did the Royals get their man, but they got him for quite a bit less than Boras’ asking price – supposedly $10 million.
Bubba is a great prospect. He has the potential to be a great player. But the $7.5 million the Royals gave him is far more in line with what a number five pick should receive, and the Royals didn’t back down.
The Boras/Starling ruse of sending Bubba to Lincoln to go through the motions of a Nebraska freshman may have backfired. After the would-be quarterback received a hero’s welcome, things turned against him. Coach Bo Pelini tried to pressure Starling into participating in full-contact drills, something Boras and the Starling family never would have permitted.
Boras and the Starlings didn’t like that Pelini wouldn’t just play along. Pelini dug in his heels. Finally Bubba was left off the official football team roster and told he couldn’t work out with the team until he made a full commitment. The pawn in the game was left to sit in an apartment in Lincoln wondering what he’d gotten himself into.
The firestorm may have actually allowed the Royals to stick to their low offer with some confidence.
The good guys in the whole scenario turned out to be the hometown Royals. Though they got their man for less than he wanted, they have catered to him for years, earning lots of favor along the way. The bad guys are obviously the combustible Pelini, and Boras, who looks like the evil mastermind behind the whole scheme.
The way he manipulates young people and their families begs the question – does Boras work for the player, or does the player work for Boras?
With several Boras clients on their roster, and having just inked Starling, the Royals certainly aren’t going to be blowing any whistles on Boras’ behind-closed-doors manipulations. But one has to wonder if anyone else will cast a critical eye on the actions of the supposed “advisor” role he played.
You would even have to question whether Starling would be eligible at Nebraska after all the negotiations that took place. Had Boras crossed the line from “advisor” to “agent” in any way, the 18-year-old’s eligibility would have come into question. Might Nebraska, the NCAA, or some other party, call the process into question?
No, the Royals will just be content to keep their mouths shut and pack their newest phenom off to the their spring training facility in Surprise, Ariz. According to the Royals team announcement of the signing, Starling will not compete with the Arizona Fall League Rookie-classification team. He will, instead, focus on preparing for the Arizona Instructional League.