- Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Senior Writer
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While some rival executives and industry leaders have called the $2.15 billion sale price of the Los Angeles Dodgers outlandish, super agent Scott Boras thinks the new ownership group fronted by Magic Johnson got a steal.
"I think it's a great business deal," Boras said. "There have been a few people that go to winter meetings every now and then and say baseball owners are making a lot of money and they're doing so because the franchise values of the teams have risen to certain levels and therefore players are of a particular value."
Boras, of course, was joking referring to himself and other sports agents who have pushed for some of the monstrous contracts like the nine-year, $214 million deal he secured from the Detroit Tigers for free agent first baseman Prince Fielder.
The Dodgers sale, Boras said, is validation that major league franchises are worth far more than what they are annually valued at by Forbes magazine. The Dodgers were valued at $800 million in Forbes' latest annual report.
"The values of franchises in the industries have now been realized, they've been advanced," he said. "This is just merely evidence of what was the truth for years. This is the first time that we've had that confirmation of ownership value of the sport."
Boras was speaking on Saturday, before the major league debut of his client, Washington Nationals rookie Bryce Harper. He was able to secure a five-year, $9.9 million deal for Harper after he was the first pick in the 2010 draft.
Boras was not always as successful in his draft-day dealings with the Dodgers under Frank McCourt's ownership. In 2005, his client Luke Hochevar rejected the Dodgers' $2.98 million signing bonus and instead returned to the University of Tennessee for another season. He was picked first overall by the Kansas City Royals in 2006 and signed to a four-year, $5.3 million deal.
"For me, when the way the Luke Hocheavar thing was handled was a very telling moment for the McCourt ownership," Boras said. "Because this guy was a guy who had the ability to be a Major League starting pitcher, but the recognitions for that was not at the ownership level. I think the scouting and all the others understood what they had, and that caused me concern."
Boras doesn't expect that to continue under the new ownership group.
"I think when the ownership bought the team, and with what they paid for it, there's an expectancy that the -- and maybe a few quotes by ownership personnel -- might lead you to believe that they're going to be highly competitive and attract stars and keep stars here," he joked, referring to several comments about pursuing top free agents made by Johnson.
"You know, the old story is that the minute an owner says something, he's got to execute," Boras said. "If you're a baseball player and if you hear that, if you hear where it comes from, it's going to make this market more attractive and more players are going to look into it."