In the days immediately following the ownership takeovers of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Houston Astros and Washington Nationals, one of the first items on the agenda for the principal leaders of those organizations was to meet Scott Boras.

Ted Lerner, the late leader of the Nationals, hung with Boras in Palm Springs, California. Jim Crane, the chairman of the Astros, flew to Boras’ office three days after the deal became official. Jim Daly of the Dodgers met with Boras for two days.

“What you do to a winning franchise to remain winning and what you do with a losing franchise to try to win are two different worlds.”

Agent Scott Boras, who represents a number of key Orioles

Such is the draw of Boras, the sport’s most prominent agent. He represents some of the game’s biggest stars, and as ownership arrives with visions of World Series championships, it’s Boras’ players who are often the target for long contracts.

It will be no different for David Rubenstein, the new control person of the Orioles. Shortly after the $1.7 billion transfer of ownership took place, Rubenstein had a call with Boras. When Boras told Rubenstein whom he represented — Corbin Burnes, Gunnar Henderson, Jordan Westburg, Cole Irvin and Jackson Holliday — Rubenstein said: “Wow, you have a lot of our very important players.”

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“We kind of talked about it generally, and I just said that players love playing on winning teams, they love playing in competitive environments,” Boras said in a phone interview. “And all the players that I represent there are enjoying the environment in Baltimore, and it’s just kind of a renewed positioning for the team and the city. And we don’t talk in specifics, obviously, because that’s more of what [general manager] Mike [Elias] does for the team on his behalf. But he just talked about his enthusiasm generally and how he wants to do what he can to help the team win currently and make it a winner long term.”

A representative for Rubenstein declined to discuss the conversation.

Boras has seen the transformation of several organizations after an ownership change, and he used the Astros and Nationals as examples. For both, their rise to prominence came through losing. They stockpiled high draft picks and hit on those selections — Carlos Correa, Bryce Harper, Stephen Strasburg, Alex Bregman, to name a few.

But then, as both clubs turned those prospects into regulars, they bolstered the roster through free agency and trades. Houston added Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole and Yordan Alvarez through trades, and Washington added Max Scherzer, Patrick Corbin and Daniel Murphy as free agents.

It signaled a shift in process, and the Orioles are entering that territory.

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“What you do to a winning franchise to remain winning and what you do with a losing franchise to try to win are two different worlds,” Boras said.

Orioles control person David Rubenstein watches the game while serving as "Mr. Splash" during a game between the Arizona Diamondbacks and Baltimore Orioles on Friday, May 10.
Orioles owner David Rubenstein has been in contact with agent Scott Boras, whose clients include Corbin Burnes, Gunnar Henderson and Jackson Holliday. (Paul Mancano/The Baltimore Banner)

“David and I had that discussion, and it’s clear that he wants a very competitive team in Baltimore,” Boras said. “David’s certainly inheriting a team that has more currency to it. And it has a depth to it, organizationally. But there’s always things you have to do to become a championship team rather than a good team. And those are usually ownership-driven decisions.”

One of the items that will be on Rubenstein’s agenda shortly: increasing payroll.

With the trade deadline approaching at the end of July, Baltimore is in the market for a starting pitcher and a reliever. Elias and the Orioles’ pro scouting department will identify potential deals and negotiate packages, but an owner’s role is imperative for most franchises.

Crane was personally involved in sealing a trade for Verlander in 2017, and he helped negotiate a new contract with the star pitcher in 2021. There are certain tiers of players who require ownership involvement, and with the likes of Burnes, Henderson and Holliday, the Orioles have players who could be in that upper echelon.

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“In any situation, when you’re dealing with a franchise player, you have to know ownership,” Boras said. “You’ve got to understand them; you’ve got to hear them out. … I gotta be able to tell players what we know about who the owners are. You have to meet them; you have to talk to them.”

Boras continued: “It’s not about necessarily specific negotiating, it’s about understanding what the owner’s philosophy is and what his goals are, because these are billionaires. And they’re captains of their franchise, and they can give authority for their baseball ops division to do a lot of things. Or they can retract it and prevent them from doing a lot of things. And players want to know, is he in or out? Am I part of something that I know is gonna help me achieve my goals?”

Burnes will be the first major decision for Rubenstein’s ownership group. He’s headed for free agency after this season and, once there, the former Cy Young Award winner could command a massive contract.

Scott Boras attends Bryce Harper’s introductory press conference in Philadelphia in 2019 after the star player signed as a free agent. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Henderson, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year, is only 22 but could be an extension candidate. So, too, could Westburg, who is playing at a high enough level to be considered for the All-Star team.

Boras disputed what he called a “misnomer” that players under his representation don’t sign contract extensions. He pointed to Strasburg with the Nationals, Jose Altuve with the Astros and Jason Varitek with the Red Sox as a sampling of the players who didn’t hit the open market.

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“I do nothing but advise my clients, and I’ve got a whole history that says some do things that involve extensions, others choose to go to free agency,” Boras said. “I tell every team our ears are open, and we listen, and I convey the information to players, and we do our best to understand ownership and their commitment.”

When the Orioles swung the deal for Burnes, Elias said then-owner John Angelos signed off on it. It was one of the first examples of Baltimore’s higher-ups leaving a rebuilding philosophy in the past. Now, the Orioles are attempting to supplement their roster to bolster their chances of a World Series title.

“If they don’t make the trade for Corbin, where are the Orioles?” Boras said. “And the answer is that this is what winning is. It’s trades.”

It’s also prudent to use extensions to keep a core group of players together and add to the roster by being active in free agency. While Elias will make many of those decisions, it takes the backing of Rubenstein to make them reality.