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Amy Cole, Gerrit Cole and Scott Boras. Photo: Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Last year, the two biggest MLB free agents, Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, didn't sign until late February. This year, the stove has heated back up — and super agent Scott Boras is reaping the rewards.

By the numbers: Boras has already negotiated four deals this winter worth a total of $878 million, which puts $43.9 million in his pocket (he gets 5%, per NY Post).

  • Gerrit Cole: $324M ($16.2M for Boras)
  • Stephen Strasburg: $245M ($12.25M for Boras)
  • Anthony Rendon: $245M ($12.25M for Boras)
  • Mike Moustakas: $64M ($3.2M for Boras)

Looking ahead: With clients like 2019 NL Cy Young runner-up Hyun Jin Ryu, 2015 AL Cy Young winner Dallas Keuchel and OF Nick Castellanos yet to be signed, Boras should exceed $1 billion in contracts this offseason and lift his career agreements past $9 billion.

Looking back: Boras was the first agent to negotiate contracts in excess of $50 million (Greg Maddux in 1997), $100 million (Kevin Brown in 1998) and $200 million (Alex Rodriguez in 2000) and has negotiated two of the five guaranteeing $300+ million.

"The greatest joy certainly in my life is when you get to make the phone calls I got to make last week. You've gone on a journey with them that may have taken 10, 11 years for them to reach this point ... It's a very rewarding and prideful moment that often is very emotional."
— Boras, per AP

The man: Boras grew up milking cows on his father's dairy farm outside Sacramento. Following a college baseball career at the University of the Pacific, he played four years in the minors before retiring to pursue a career as a sports agent.

  • He's known for his annual media session at the winter meetings — which is more of a performance, really — and for confusing quotes like "Everyone in D.C. knows special cherry trees create revenue bloom."
  • He's also known for consistently identifying and signing the best young talent, having represented 123 first-round draft picks and 12 No. 1 picks.

The company: The Boras Corporation employs 135 people, ranging from researchers and scouts to lawyers and psychologists, and has emissaries in countries like Japan, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

  • "The Boras Corp. offices, which have been likened to the Death Star by some media members, are tucked into one corner of a business district in tiny Newport Beach," Calif., NY Post's Christian Red writes.
  • "Any Boras Corp. employee has access to the player data through special computer and mobile apps, and the databases where all of the client information is stored are located in the building's basement."

The big picture: The fact that Boras has negotiated this many mega-deals before Christmas is good news for players, who saw free agency move at a snail's pace the last two years thanks to front offices prioritizing young, cheap talent. It's good news for fans, too, as more teams look willing to invest in talent and compete in 2020 (rather than "rebuild").

Go deeper:

Go deeper

The dark new reality in Congress

National Guard troops keep watch at security fencing. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

This is how bad things are for elected officials and others working in a post-insurrection Congress:

  • Rep. Norma Torres (D-Calif.) said she had a panic attack while grocery shopping back home.
  • Rep. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) said police may also have to be at his constituent meetings.
  • Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) told a podcaster he brought a gun to his office on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6 because he anticipated trouble with the proceedings that day.
Off the Rails

Episode 3: Descent into madness ... Trump: "Sometimes you need a little crazy"

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photos: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Beginning on election night 2020 and continuing through his final days in office, Donald Trump unraveled and dragged America with him, to the point that his followers sacked the U.S. Capitol with two weeks left in his term. This Axios series takes you inside the collapse of a president.

Episode 3: The conspiracy goes too far. Trump's outside lawyers plot to seize voting machines and spin theories about communists, spies and computer software.

President Trump was sitting in the Oval Office one day in late November when a call came in from lawyer Sidney Powell. "Ugh, Sidney," he told the staff in the room before he picked up. "She's getting a little crazy, isn't she? She's really gotta tone it down. No one believes this stuff. It's just too much."

Convicts turn to D.C. fixers for Trump pardons

Trump confidante Matt Schlapp interviews Jared Kushner last February. Schlapp is seeking a pardon for a biotech executive. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A flood of convicted criminals has retained lobbyists since November’s presidential election to press President Trump for pardons or commutations before he leaves office.

What we're hearing: Among them is Nickie Lum Davis, a Hawaii woman who pleaded guilty last year to abetting an illicit foreign lobbying campaign on behalf of fugitive Malaysian businessman Jho Low. Trump confidante Matt Schlapp also is seeking a pardon for a former biopharmaceutical executive convicted of fraud less than two months ago.