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Scott Boras wants expert panel, not teams, to make readiness decisions

PITTSBURGH -- Baseball agent Scott Boras wants "panels" consisting of baseball experts to help decide if a first-year player is worthy of making the team out of spring training.

"You're talking about a talent evaluation," Boras said while attending the major league debut of Cubs prospect Addison Russell on Tuesday. "It can't be subjective. It has to be objective among a board, a panel."

His idea would go something like this: If a player is sent down to the minors during spring training -- as Cubs top prospect and Boras client Kris Bryant was in March -- then the players' union can file a "claim" asking an independent panel to decide if the player deserved to make the major league roster based on his play.

"The union or somebody may come in and say they've made a claim that this player is major league-ready, and to place him in the minor leagues would not be appropriate from a skills standpoint. Then, all of a sudden, it's subject to review by a panel like former managers and [other] baseball experts," Boras said. "It's up to the owners and the MLBPA to make sure they address this so it's not brought down to a level of representation of players."

In other words, Boras doesn't want to be the one advocating for his clients to make a team -- as he did with Bryant during spring training. The agent was critical of the Cubs after Bryant was sent to minor league camp despite leading all Cactus League and Grapefruit league hitters in home runs.

"It's an evaluation," Boras said. "It's objective in the sense that they're neutral."

But the evaluation itself would be subjective by it's very nature. Boras was reminded that this panel would essentially be making baseball decisions instead of front offices.

"The minute we have service measurements, we're telling a team what to do," Boras said.

He figures the rules in the collective bargaining agreement were telling the Cubs what to do with Bryant instead of his play on the field. By calling him -- and Russell -- up to the majors 12 or more days into the season, they aren't eligible for free agency until after the 2021 season. If either had made the team out of spring training, he would be eligible for free agency after 2020. It benefited the team for them to start the season at Triple-A.

"The union might come in and put in a claim that they want this evaluation made," Boras said.

Boras also has strong opinions about defensive shifting. He's against it, for the defender's sake. He believes it forces players to grasp jobs they haven't been trained to master.

"The communication is different because there's different people involved and there's fielding ground balls from unique places because you're never trained that way," Boras said of shifts. "I'm afraid it's going to seep into college and youth baseball."

Bryant made an error on Monday night while shifted over to the shortstop position, but Boras said it wasn't just about Bryant. He opined on what a player must be thinking.

"'I have to play five positions instead one,' " Boras stated.