When Oakland A's pitcher Barry Zito hit the free-agent market following the 2006 season, his agent, Scott Boras, proclaimed Zito, then 28, would become baseball's best left-handed starter since Steve Carlton.
He even produced a glossy, 74-page portfolio to show this possibility.
"He will be baseball's next great ace," Boras told USA Today. "Barry could be one of the best left-handed pitchers of all time. Players like this are Maddux-esque."
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The San Francisco Giants apparently agreed. They signed Zito to a $126 million contract.
In 2007, Zito went 11-13 with a 4.53 ERA.
In 2008, Zito went 10-17 with a 5.15 ERA.
Maybe Boras meant Mike Maddux, not Greg Maddux.
As always, Boras is a major player in the free-agent market. He represents Mark Teixeira and Manny Ramirez, along with Derek Lowe, Oliver Perez and Jason Varitek, among others.
Zito's contract has certainly proved disastrous for the Giants, but it's just one Boras megadeal. Do teams get their money's worth with Boras clients? We checked other big Boras signings and rated them on our Scott Boras scale: Five Boras heads mean the teams got a great deal; one Boras head means they got fleeced.
Greg Maddux: Braves, 1998-2002
Contract: 5 years, $57.5 million ($11.5 million per year)
Before the deal: Maddux had won four straight Cy Young Awards from 1992 to 1995 and had finished second in '97 after going 19-4 with a 2.22 ERA and just 14 unintentional walks in 232 innings.
The signing: With the richest deal ever given a pitcher at the time, Maddux would be the NL's second-highest paid player in '98 and '99 and in the top six through the end of the contract.
What happened: Maddux went 89-44 with a 2.88 ERA over the five years, and while he wasn't quite as dominant as he had been, he remained one of baseball's premier pitchers. The Braves won five division titles and topped 100 wins three times.
The final tally: Remember when the Braves mattered?
Kevin Brown: Dodgers, 1999-2005
Contract: 7 years, $105 million ($15 million per year)
Before the deal: Brown was absolutely dominant from 1996 to 1998, going 51-26 with a 2.32 ERA, throwing a hard sinkerball that produced both groundballs and strikeouts. He allowed just 26 home runs those three seasons in more than 700 innings and had a mean streak, leading the NL in hit batters in '96 and '97. He had led the Marlins and Padres to the World Series.
The signing: Analysts were shocked when Dodgers GM Kevin Malone signed Brown to the first $100 million contract, especially since Brown would be 40 in its final season. He would be the highest-paid player in the NL from 1999 through 2002.
What happened: Brown was excellent his first two seasons, finishing fourth and first in the NL in ERA. Injuries set in, however, and he made just 29 starts the next two years. He bounced back with a strong 2003, posting a 2.39 ERA, at which time the Dodgers unloaded him to the Yankees, for whom he won just 14 games combined in his final two years and memorably bombed out in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS.
The final tally: The Dodgers were above .500 in four of Brown's five seasons, but never made the playoffs, in part hamstrung by Brown's big salary (not to mention Malone's incompetence.) They were lucky to dump the final two years for Jeff Weaver.
Bernie Williams: Yankees, 1999-2005
Contract: 7 years, $87.5 million ($12.5 million per year)
Before the deal: Williams was coming off his best season (.339 BA/.422 OBP/.575 SLG, seventh in the MVP voting), and the Yankees outbid the Red Sox to keep him in center.
The signing: Rumors had swirled that Williams wanted to leave New York, but his new deal made him the third-highest-paid player in the AL in '99 and second in '00. He would remain in the top 10 through 2003.
What happened: Williams hit .342 in '99 and drove in 121 runs in 2000 as the Yankees won the World Series both years. He remained an elite player through 2002, but slipped markedly the final three years of the deal, hitting just .263, .262 and .249 with declining range in center field.
The final tally: A classic case of signing a player in his 30s for too many years. Williams simply didn't age well, and the final three years the Yankees paid top money for a mediocre player. But Williams was vital to the two World Series titles.
Alex Rodriguez: Rangers, 2001-2010
Contract: 10 years, $252 million ($25.2 million per year)
Before the deal: The greatest free agent ever -- just 25 years old and perhaps the best player in baseball, a power-hitting shortstop (40-plus homers three years in a row) with solid range in the field.
The signing: Rangers owner Tom Hicks doubled the previous richest contract in sports history. "Alex is the player we believe will allow this franchise to fulfill its dream of continuing on its path to becoming a World Series champion," Hicks said.
What happened: Rodriguez was great; the Rangers were awful. One hundred fifty home runs but three losing seasons later, Texas traded Rodriguez (and cash) to the Yankees for Alfonso Soriano (who, after one year, was dumped for Brad Wilkerson).
The final tally: Umm, yeah
maybe a little pitching would have been nice. The Rangers have had one winning season in the eight years since the original signing and were so desperate to trade him they actually paid a portion of his Yankees salary. Despite A-Rod's productivity, the size of the deal proved disastrous.
Chan Ho Park: Rangers, 2002-2006
Contract: 5 years, $65 million ($13 million per year)
Before the deal: Park had gone 33-21, 3.38 ERA the previous two years with the Dodgers.
The signing: Boras got new best friend Hicks to apparently ignore the fact that Park had benefited from a big home-field advantage at Dodger Stadium: His road ERAs the three previous years had been 5.04, 4.29 and 4.83.
What happened: Park won 22 games with the Rangers -- over four seasons. He was one of the 10 highest-paid players in the league from 2003 through 2006.
The final tally: One of the worst free-agent contracts ever.
Andruw Jones: Braves, 2002-2007
Contract: 6 years, $75 million ($12.5 million per year)
Before the deal: Jones signed a long-term deal with the Braves a year before hitting free agency. Considering his age, Gold Glove prowess in center field and power numbers (70 home runs in 2000 and '01), he would have likely earned more on the market.
The signing: Jones was never in the top 10 highest-paid players in the league.
What happened: Jones remained durable and put up solid numbers (including a second-place finish in the 2005 MVP voting after hitting 51 home runs) up until the final year of the deal, when he hit .222. Still, he never reached the superstar status many had projected for him.
The final tally: The Braves won four division titles and wisely cut bait after Jones' poor 2007. (The Dodgers signed Jones to a disastrous two-year, $36 million deal.) A solid investment.
Barry Bonds: Giants, 2002-2006
Contract: 5 years, $90 million ($18 million per year)
Before the deal: He was coming off a pretty fair season: 73 home runs, 137 RBI, a .515 on-base percentage and record .863 slugging percentage. Still, he was 37 years old ... albeit in pretty good shape (wink, wink).
The signing: The Giants were the only team to acknowledge a bid to Bonds, whose average annual salary placed him fourth at the time, tied with Sammy Sosa and behind Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez and Derek Jeter.
What happened: Bonds won NL MVP awards in 2002, '03 and '04, putting up more comic-book numbers. He missed most of 2005 with a knee injury. The Giants reached Game 7 of the World Series in '02 (Bonds hit eight home runs and drew 27 walks in 17 postseason games) and won 100 games and a division title in '03.
The final tally: We'll take away one Boras head for the missing 2005 season, but otherwise you can't deny the awesome production.
Adrian Beltre: Mariners, 2005-2009
Contract: 5 years, $64 million ($12.8 million per year)
Before the deal: After three seasons of below-average OPS, Beltre hit .334 and smashed 48 home runs for the Dodgers in 2004, finishing second in the MVP balloting.
The signing: The big question was whether Beltre's '04 season was a breakout or a fluke. The Mariners bit.
What happened: It was a fluke. Beltre has topped out at 26 home runs, 99 RBIs and a .276 average with Seattle (all in 2007). His highest OBP has been .328. He has never slugged .500. The Mariners have been mostly horrible.
The final tally: Beltre hasn't been horrible, but nowhere near worth the big contract.
Carlos Beltran: Mets, 2005-2011
Contract: 7 years, $119 million ($17 million per year)
Before the deal: After years of obscurity in Kansas City, Beltran exploded in the 2004 postseason with the Astros, hitting .435 with eight home runs in 12 games.
The signing: Beltran reportedly came close to re-signing with Houston, but the Astros would not give him a full no-trade clause. Sources said the Yankees never made an offer. The deal made Beltran the seventh-highest-paid player in baseball by average salary and he was the highest-paid player in the NL in 2008.
What happened: After a disappointing first year (.266/.330/.414, 16 HRs), Beltran has been one of the best all-around players in the NL the past three seasons. However, his slugging percentage has dropped from .594 to .525 to .500 over that span.
The final tally: With three years left, Beltran has produced what would have been expected. However, because his salary remains one of the highest in the league and his numbers are likely to continue to decline, there is little doubt Mets GM Omar Minaya overpaid.
Magglio Ordonez: Tigers, 2005-2009
Contract: 5 years, $75 million ($15 million per year)
Before the deal: Ordonez had been a star with the White Sox from 1999 to 2003, hitting above .300 and slugging above .500 each season. But a knee injury required two surgeries and limited him to 52 games in 2004.
The signing: In a complex deal, the Tigers owned the right to void the contract after 2006 if the knee injury recurred. They also own options for 2010 and '11. He was the sixth-highest-paid player in the AL in 2006 and ninth in 2008.
What happened: Hernia surgery limited Ordonez to 82 games in '05, but the Tigers took a risk and didn't void the deal. Ordonez hit .298 with 104 RBIs as Detroit made the World Series in '06, and he had a monster '07, hitting .363 with 139 RBIs. He also grew out his hair.
The final tally: 2007 has been the only year he has slugged above .500. Other than that season, he's been more solid than spectacular, hardly one of the top 10 players in the league that his contract would merit.
Jason Varitek: Red Sox, 2005-2008
Contract: 4 years, $40 million ($10 million per year)
Before the deal: Varitek was coming off his best season, hitting .296/.390/.482. Oh, and the Red Sox won the World Series.
The signing: Varitek wanted to return to Boston and apparently did little negotiating with other teams, although he did come down from a rumored initial asking price of five years and $55 million. There was some risk, considering his age and position.
What happened: Varitek had one excellent season ('05), one good season ('07), one bad season ('06) and one horrible season ('08). Boston won one division title, one World Series and two wild cards in the four seasons.
Final tally: A decent payoff for the Red Sox, although Boras' current attempts to compare Varitek to Jorge Posada and Carlton Fisk are a bit laughable. Posada has a career OPS+ of 124 (24 percent better than league average) and Fisk was 117. Varitek is at 100 and in decline.
Derek Lowe: Dodgers, 2005-2008
Contract: 4 years, $36 million ($9 million per year)
Before the deal: Lowe had gone 3-0 in the postseason to help Boston win the World Series but had been battered around in the regular season with a 5.42 ERA.
The signing: Paul DePodesta unfairly got a swift boot as Dodgers GM, but since the Red Sox showed no interest in re-signing Lowe, this proved to be a bargain deal.
What happened: Lowe went 54-48 with a 3.59 ERA, proving a durable No. 2 starter. (Moving to the NL no doubt helped.)
The final tally: Considering the price, maybe the most economical Boras signing ever.
Johnny Damon: Yankees, 2006-2009
Contract: 4 years, $52 million ($13 million per year)
Before the deal: Damon was a two-time All-Star coming off two straight .300 seasons. He was durable (eight straight seasons of 100-plus runs) and regarded as a decent center fielder despite his poor throwing arm.
The signing: With Damon entering those dangerous mid-30s, the Red Sox let him go to the Yankees, who signed him to replace Bernie Williams in center.
What happened: Damon has had two good years at the plate and one subpar year (2007). However, he was paid to play center and has played just 213 games there. His offensive skills aren't as valuable as a left fielder or DH.
The final tally: The contract hasn't been an albatross, but Damon's inability to play much center field helped bloat the Yankees' payroll and meant they played the unproductive Melky Cabrera there in 2008.
Kevin Millwood: Rangers, 2006-2010
Contract: 5 years, $60 million ($12 million per year)
Before the deal: Millwood had led the AL with a 2.86 ERA with Cleveland in 2005 but had also posted a 4.85 ERA with Philadelphia in '04 and had pitched 200 innings just twice in five seasons.
The signing: The Rangers bet Millwood would stay healthy and pitch somewhat close to his '05 level.
What happened: He hasn't. He won 16 games his first season but has been tattooed the past two seasons to the tune of 433 hits in 341 1/3 innings. That's unacceptable for a No. 5 starter making the league minimum, let alone a pitcher making $12 million per season.
Final tally: Better than the Chan Ho Park signing, but still looking bad. How much commission has Boras earned off Tom Hicks, anyway?
Barry Zito: Giants, 2007-2013
Contract: 7 years, $126 million ($18 million per year)
Before the deal: A durable lefty who had won the 2002 AL Cy Young Award with Oakland, Zito had walked 99 batters his final year with the A's and his strikeout rates had been declining.
The signing: Boras' master stroke. MLB.com reported Texas had offered six years, $84 million and the Mets had offered five years, $75 million.
What happened: Steve Carlton (not to mention Randy Johnson or Tom Glavine) is safe. Zito has been durable, but as many analysts predicted, he was on the decline.
Final tally: As Rob Neyer wrote before Zito ever threw a pitch for San Francisco, "The only thing this deal does is make the Giants look ridiculous."
Thanks to Mark Simon of the ESPN Research department for details on the contract terms.