Wednesday, February 16, 2011
MiLB LIFE: Do You Have an Agent?
Believe it or not, I get this question a lot. And hey, why shouldn't I? I'm a professional athlete- I get paid to play baseball. Shouldn't I have someone watching my back, promoting my worth, and negotiating major endorsements on my behalf? I'd have to be crazy to not have some form of representation to at least serve as a mediator between myself and the organization- right?
The truth is, I can't help but smile when people ask me about an agent. Me? An agent?
For that split second, I feel like a big deal. Just being asked the question- being associated with the term "agent"- intitiates a mental montage of Ari Gold, Scott Boras, Drew Rosenhaus, and Jerry Maguire's greatest hits.
I think to myself, "Why the hell would I need an agent? I was a senior who signed for almost nothing and I make a uniform monthly salary- what's there to negotiate?" I sit there, almost embarrassed as I realize this person thinks I'm a bigger star than I actually am.
To be honest, I could have an agent. Hell, I even spoke to a few before the draft about a possible relationship- but in the end, it just didn't make enough sense to me.
As a late-round senior, my signing bonus was essentially pre-determined- not much negotiating to be done there. And once you start pro-ball, every player of the same draft class makes the same amount regardless of draft round, organization, or potential as a prospect. You see slight pay increases throughout the levels, but it's years before you actually get to the point of negotiating a contract. I receive a standard MiLB monthly salary- what would an agent do for me?
Right now, there's really only one reason why I wish I had an agent: the care packages. Sure it's nice to know someone has your back- and perhaps teams are even less likely to release a guy who has someone fighting for his spot in the organization- but at the end of the day, it's all about the gear.
In the eyes of a player, the care packages are basically the most important aspect of an agent's job in the time between you getting drafted and negotiating your first Big League contract. Every agent has their own hookups in different companies, and it's through the agent's endorsement deals that the minor leaguer essentially becomes endorsed.
For instance, my buddy Kenny's agent has some major connections at New Balance so he basically walks around the clubhouse looking like he just robbed a NB factory. Compression shirts, tees, long-sleeves, shorts, sliders, turfs, cleats- you name it, he's got it. Best part? He didn't have to lift a hand or pay a dime- kind of hard not to get jealous while I'm filling out the credit card portion of my Baseball Express order form. But that's what an agent does- care packages and gift baskets. (For now, at least).
Bats, gloves, any form of equipment you may need- call your agent. His job is to please you and to keep you focused on baseball- he'll handle the little stuff. To an agent, you are a long-term investment. Sure, the x% of your signing bonus was nice, but agents get paid when their players get paid.
They don't take a stipend out of your meager monthly salary- that wouldn't be fair, and it'd probably amount to less than the the cost of mailing a check anyway. They start seeing profits when their players make it to the Majors, and so they do everything in their power to help you along the way. To an agent, your success is their success.
Picking the right agent is essential for any player looking for representation- but picking the right players is just as important for any agent to be successful. It works both ways.
At this point in my career, I don't need an agent- and no agent really needs me. There's not much invested in me and my immediate future will be solely determined by my play on the field.
Down the road, I hope I'm in the position to need the assistance of a professional negotiator- but right now, I just really want a gift basket.
MiLB LIFE Series
How Long Until You're in the Bigs?
Being a Senior Sign
Universal Big League Dreams
Explaining My Profession to Non-Baseball Minds
Wasted Hat Collection
Dealing with Heckling Fans
Being the New Guy
My First Call-Up
A Typical Game Day [Part One]
A Typical Game Day [Part Two]
Being the 'K-Man'
A Taste of the Minor League Off-Season
New Helmets Issued, Players Respond: "Are You Joking?"
The Fines of Kangaroo Court