Carter Stewart might be just what Scott Boras needs.
The 19-year old Stewart, who reportedly agreed with Japan’s Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks on a six-year deal worth over $7 million, could set a precedent for highly drafted players to go to Japan in lieu of signing, which Boras has advocated for in the past to break up the power MLB lords over amateurs. Stewart was drafted eighth overall by the Braves last year, but the team reduced its signing bonus offer because of an alleged injury. Stewart’s slot level allotted him about $4 million; Atlanta reportedly offered him closer to $2 million.
Stewart never signed and was in line to re-enter the draft this year, expected to be a second-round pick. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, this draft bonus might have landed at less than $2 million and, by leaving the MLB structure that has little wiggle room or leverage for the prospects, Stewart is setting himself up to make significantly more than he would have over the next six years.
Though he is now committed to playing in Japan through age 25, Stewart will, essentially, enter free agency once he’s finished and be able to sign for whatever the market commands when the time comes. Stewart would be considered a standard international free agent should he play in Japan for the next six years, according to Passan.
While pitchers come and go, given the finicky nature of the arm, Stewart and Boras are gambling he’ll be an attractive free agent when the time comes.
“You’d like to see [Nippon Professional Baseball] greater involved than what it is,” Boras said at the 2018 winter meetings, per the Japan Times. “I think it’s very wise for the Japanese teams to take a look at amateurs.”
Now, Boras is getting his wish.
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