These past twenty-four months have been trying times in the global economy, with uncertainty reigning king in all economic circles. While this insecurity has become mainstream in today’s everyday life, it has been a part of baseball for decades. Prior to the advent of free agency in 1975, Major League players remained property of their initial team until traded or released. Free agency allowed players to sign contracts of a set duration, giving them negotiating power for more lucrative contracts and created the demand for agents.
Some agents have drawn the ire of those that follow sports for demanding salaries that many deem excessive. While this aspect of sports agencies remains open to debate, there are many more benefits to having agent representation than just inking the big deals, especially for younger and less known players.
Agents provide many of their players with equipment and clothing at discounted or no cost. Things that are usually provided to collegiate players for nothing, like batting gloves, gloves, and cleats, are not given to professional players. These expenses can add up over a few seasons for players on minimal minor league salaries that did not ink a large signing bonus to get their careers going.
Another benefit agents can provide players is helping them find another teams to play for if things go south with their current team. While minor league players remain property of their first Major League team for their first six seasons, there is no obligation for these teams to offer a contract for all six years. The nature of the business is very fluid, with players coming and going almost every month of the season through trades and releases. The uncertainty that exists from the possibility of being released makes having an agent invaluable when it comes to finding another team to sign with as soon as possible.
This past offseason has brought several changes to my life both on and off the field, with my living and training locations being the most prominent differences from previous years. Perhaps the biggest strategic difference I have made from a baseball career standpoint is a decision that has implications is that I have agreed to be represented by a sports agency.
While I was not actively seeking representation, the opportunity arose out of a connection I had with a former teammate of mine at the University of Rochester. Mike Gerton, a teammate of mine during my 2003 season, gave me a call during November and discussed the prospects of the firm he works for representing me. After some consultation with several people about the decision, I agreed to have Goldin & Waddell Management to represent me. The decision to do this was twofold. First, not having to pay for some of my gear is extremely helpful, especially on our salaries. The bigger reason, though, is that this firm is going to be my hedge against the uncertainty of never knowing what the organization’s intentions with you are, and that they always have the power to release you tomorrow.
I have been told by several Angels staff members that I am a valuable part of the organization. However, I understand that nothing is guaranteed and that I have to fight for a spot on a team every year. It is possible that they decide to head in a direction that does not include me in their plans, despite me having done everything in my power to stay. Having an agent in this situation may provide me the opportunity to sign with another organization in what is hopefully a short amount of time. The longer a released player remains a free agent, the lesser his chances are of signing with another team.
Baseball is a game where nothing is certain, and the personnel decisions that parallel the balls and strikes can be just as ambiguous. All I can do is be prepared for as many situations as possible and put myself in good positions on and off the field. Having Goldin & Waddell Management in my corner affords me comfort knowing that I am not the only one looking out for my career and they will do everything in their power to put me in positions to succeed.