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Tommy Craggs of Deadspin has an excellent new post up on why Scott Boras, the most hated agent in sports, is not actually that evil. Currently, teams take turns selecting players they like, which means that the player can only sign with that team, has to live where the team tells him, can get traded to another team at any time and have to move, etc. This limits players' ability to earn wages fitting their ability, because if they don't like the offer given to them, they can't start talking to another team. Boras has been more effective than any other agent at finding ways to make his players' salaries more closely track their actual earning potential, either through making them eligible for free agency earlier, or by squeezing teams for more money than they usually give. This has made Boras the enemy of every GM, and disliked among the public. Given that Boras has made many teams shell out significantly larger amounts of money for their draftees than they would normally have to, it makes sense that he is disliked by most fans, but it is a shame, from a libertarian perspective. The draft system is another example of a place where America has less economic and political freedom than Europe; in Europe every player is a free agent, and can sign with any team at any time. Consider a talented 18-year-old player. He's probably spent every day for the past eight or nine years working hard on his baseball skills, in the batting cages, taking grounders and fly balls. His parents have put in a ton of money so he can play on traveling teams all summer and have good coaching. The result is that this kid is five-tool fierce, dominating the local high school league, hitting towering home runs, etc. Everyone thinks he's on pace for the major leagues. All of the effort and time he's put in are worth something. But because of the draft, he must negotiate a take-it-or-leave-it contract with exactly one MLB team, and put in time in the minors before breaking the majors, becoming a free agent and being eligible to get paid his share. The problem with the current system is he can get hurt at any time and not be able to play, and get dumped out of the baseball system with no money - there's no insurance against this, but there would be if young players got paid more. If we allowed players full freedom to sign contracts with teams our sports leagues would closely resemble Europe's. Players' earnings would increase, at every level, but especially among talented youth. The teams with the highest revenues (the Yankees, Red Sox, Braves) or teams with deep-pocketed owners would gain a huge competitive advantage, as they can afford better players at every level of development. In the English Premier League, the top four teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, and Liverpool, dominate the standings every season; we should expect a similar result in the MLB. Teams in small markets and teams with stingy owners would suffer, especially because we have such a good statistical understanding of baseball now that there are hardly any more inefficiencies to exploit. For fans 20 of 30 teams in the MLB, a World Series title would be something that occurs once a century, if that. Teams would also construct baseball academies in the United States as alternatives to high school and college, and sign young players to stay there, to take classes but mostly to play baseball. Most MLB teams already have academies in the Dominican Republic, which is one of the few areas where all players are immediately eligible for free agency (Boras considered moving one of his clients to the Dominican to make him eligible). All good Premier League teams fund youth academies to develop young talent; every good player in England goes through the academy system, not the regular high school system. Furthermore, we should expect some teams and owners to go bankrupt. Spending enough on players to win the World Series would surely require owners to make a loss on their investment. While some owners go bankrupt now, their ability to do this is limited by the salary cap, revenue sharing and other factors. The net result is that players would have more freedom to pursue wages that pay them what they are worth, which they deserve, like anyone who puts in years worth of time and energy to become good at something. But the competitiveness of the MLB would probably decrease, and because the league has only a few rewards in place (making the playoffs, the pennant, the World Series) this would spell mediocrity and more frustration for smaller teams' fans. But the MLB should make this tradeoff, because it's not fair to the players to have their wages held down. So we should praise Boras.