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Why I Chose My Agency Rumors
Over the years, third baseman Cody Asche has drawn comparisons to Chase Utley from wishful Phillies fans. However, even though they’re both infielders that bat left-handed, Asche is a different type of player and is still working towards making that major step forward at the big league level. This spring, Asche has given the Phillies plenty of reason to believe that 2015 could be his year to break out. Last week against the Twins, Asche took Mike Pelfrey deep for his third homer in just five games. Prior to his next outing against the Astros on Wednesday, Asche spoke with MLBTR in the team’s Clearwater clubhouse about his representatives at Arland Sports.
On how he first came in contact with his primary agent, Jason Wood:
He was close to one of my summer coaches in high school and he represents one of my good friends, Jake Odorizzi (Odorizzi spoke with MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes back in 2013 about Arland Sports). We kept in contact a little bit and when it came time in college to find someone, me and my family just felt really comfortable with him. We didn’t really interview anyone else, we just knew that he was a good guy with the same kind of morals as us so we went with him.
On whether there’s an advantage to being with a smaller agency like Arland Sports:
I think for sure there’s an advantage, just because you get to know him on such a personal level. I wouldn’t even consider him my agent first, I would consider him my friend first before calling him my agent. But, being that he’s a smaller agent, only having a couple guys in the big leagues, we get a lot more attention than someone might get at a bigger agency.
On the things his agency does for him outside of baseball:
Anything, you name it. He’ll help me with restaurant reservations, tickets to games, lots of stuff like that. A lot of the time I’ll just reach out to him so that I can go to dinner with him. Obviously, he also helps me line up things like apparel deals. Also, my wife Angie is a dietician and he’s helped a lot with her startup business, Eleat Sports Nutrition, and getting that off the ground. Overall, I try not to ask Jason for too much though and I’m not the most demanding guy, so there’s not a ton of stuff I really want.
On whether he’s tried to recruit other players to the agency:
I haven’t done that a lot, I’ve had it more the other way actually. I’ve had a lot of guys say to me, “If you ever want to talk to [my agent] about making a change you can,” but I think everyone knows that I’m rock solid with Jason and all of Jason’s guys are rock solid and a lot of people in the business know that. Myself, Jake Odorizzi, and David Phelps are the three main guys we have in the big leagues right now, all three of us know what he’s about, we’re loyal, and I couldn’t foresee a situation where any of us would ever want to leave.
Diamondbacks starter Daniel Hudson amassed 25 victories and a 3.19 ERA across 336 innings well before he reached even two years in big league service time. Last year he underwent Tommy John surgery, from which he's aiming to return around the All-Star break. Last month, I spoke to Hudson about his choice of agent, Andrew Lowenthal of Proformance.
On how he chose Lowenthal:
In '08 I think he had gotten my number from a previous player I had played with. He contacted me and we met a couple times, and before I went to the Cape Cod League in '07 I pretty much told him, "Hey I just wanted to let you know, I'm probably going to use you." Andrew and I kind of clicked, so it was a pretty easy decision for me to make at the time. I felt like he really wanted me, and I feel like he made a really concerted effort to come down and see me pitch. He would make an effort to call or text me after every single start, and basically just see how I was doing.
On how it went leading up to the draft in '08:
I don't really know much about his aspect of what he does. He does his best to explain everything to me, and I trust him enough to tell him, "I trust your expertise and what you know about this game, and I trust you to make a good decision on my behalf." He obviously kept me informed about all the negotiations and all the conversations he had with the White Sox, and I just let do his thing because I obviously didn't know what the heck was going on. It was fairly painless. A week and a half later I was on a plane to Great Falls, Montana to sign my contract.
On talking to Andrew about going year-to-year versus doing a long-term extension:
He laid it all out on the table. He's very good at giving me comparables as far as where I am in my career to where certain guys were at the same point in their careers and what contracts they signed and when they signed them. Before every season he gives me these thick notebooks and explains to me where I'm at in my market level with all the other guys. Obviously going year-to-year is a little bit more risky, but you can make a little bit more money in the long run. Or you can go for the security, if the team is willing to offer you an extension before you hit arbitration. He's very good and very open at giving me his opinion, but at the same time he wasn't for or against either one too strongly. So if the Diamondbacks offered me a contract last year and he didn't think it was a good deal but I wanted the security, he would not pressure me to not sign it.
Did the Diamondbacks throw anything out there before last season?
We talked. We had short conversations, but I don't really want to get into the number aspect of it.
On Andrew's involvement in Daniel's recovery from Tommy John surgery:
I feel like I couldn't have picked a better agent to feel like I still mattered even though I'm on the DL. I never felt like I wasn't getting attention because I was on the DL and going to miss 12 months.
On recommending Andrew to other players:
We have conversations about that from time to time, with different teammates and stuff. Sometimes you get to the point where some guys are like, "I'm really not liking my situation, I'm thinking about throwing my name back out there and seeing if any other agents bite." I know I've gotten Andrew meetings with a couple different guys I've played with, and once those guys saw what Andrew does for me and how helpful he is with me and my family, they want more of a personal relationship, which is what I have with Andrew at this point. I consider him more of a friend that handles my baseball stuff more than my agent. If guys like that, I flip them Andrew's number and let him take care of it from there.
Does a small agency offer an advantage over a big one?
I think so. It's human nature – the more clients a guy has, the less time he has to take care of you or talk to you. Especially with a smaller agency they don't have that many guys, I feel like at any point in time I can call any single one of them and I'll never get their voicemail. I feel like I'm just as important as the guys that are making $15MM for them.
Check out our other interviews in the Why I Chose My Agency series with Shaun Marcum, Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright, Jeremy Affeldt, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Matt Holliday, Jamey Carroll and Jake Odorizzi.
Shaun Marcum’s one-year, $4MM deal with the Mets this past offseason was negotiated by his agents at Turner-Gary Sports, Inc. Marcum spoke with B.J. Rains for MLBTR about his agents Rex Gary and Jimmy Turner.
When did you first come in contact with Rex Gary and Jimmy Turner?
It would have been Spring Training 2004. At the time they had Ryan Howard as a client and I knew Ryan from college so he introduced us and within a few days, Rex and Jim Turner were representing me and we’ve been together ever since. Looking back on it too, they didn’t have my cell phone number in college and they called my parents' house and my parents never told me leading up to the draft so I never knew. When I got drafted I went with the one person I knew, the one person that called me, because he was the only agent to contact me before the draft and I needed somebody to represent me and then after my first short season that’s when I met Rex and Jim and my parents then told me that they did call the house, but I didn’t give my cell phone number out so when I met them that’s when I made the switch and I’ve been with them ever since.”
What made them the right fit for you?
Tony LaCava with the Blue Jays was one of the guys that looked at me and drafted me back in 2003 and Tony had known Rex for a while and mentioned my name to Rex when I was in the Cape Cod League in 2002 so Rex had seen me then and he knew a little bit about me. I thought that was important because he wasn’t just somebody that was trying to make a quick buck. He knew quite a bit about me and my family and with Jimmy being from Missouri, he knew my college coaches and had a relationship with those guys so it just seemed like a good fit.
Just talking to them, they are very family oriented and they keep in touch and keep in contact with my wife and they’ve seen my kids from birth on and to this day, I feel like they are family. If they were ever in a bind or if I ever needed anything or them, I know either one of us would be there to help each other out.
What makes them good agents?
I know Rex is well respected by the Players Association and well respected throughout the game by a lot of the general managers. And arbitration, obviously it’s a big deal in baseball, and other agencies hire him to do their arbitration cases for them. He’s very respected throughout the game as far as arbitration. Also just his clients and what he can do for them in free agency. He and Jimmy had Joe Carter, Ryne Sandberg who signed a big contract, Brad Lidge, a lot of guys. Just his background and being an attorney and all of that and having that as an agent, he looks at all the details and makes sure everything is correct.
I’ve heard from other agents throughout my career, some random agents wanting to get a hold me and talk to me and I tell them I’m happy where I’m at and I don’t plan on making a change. I appreciate their interest but I’m happy with Jimmy and Rex.
It seems like they have plenty of big-name clients but are still able to give you personal attention?
I think that’s important, coming through the minor leagues and getting to the big leagues, to this day, they don’t forget about me. I still get texts and phone calls after every single start. I get them before starts. They will stay up and watch the games, if we’re on the west coast and they will be on the east coast but they will stay up and watch and I hear from them that night or the next morning. They don’t take anything for granted. They will do whatever they can do to help their clients out and I’m very fortunate enough to have them.
My wife would tell you the same thing, she loves them. She treats them as family. They are somebody that we will always have a relationship with even when I’m done with baseball. They’ve been there through everything with me as far as my baseball career is concerned, Tommy John, arbitration, free agency, my family, the birth of my kids, they’ve been there. They are like family. If you can find agents like I did that are going to be there with you through the ups and downs, good times and bad times, that’s the guy you need to get.
Check out our other interviews in the Why I Chose My Agency series with Mark DeRosa, Ted Lilly, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright, Jeremy Affeldt, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Matt Holliday, Jamey Carroll and Jake Odorizzi.
Blue Jays utility man Mark DeRosa is renowned for his clubhouse presence. He's played 500+ career innings at third base, second base, shorstop, right field, and left field, and has a pair of 20 home run seasons on his resume. The longtime CSE client spoke with MLBTR this week about his relationship with agents Lonnie Cooper and Keith Grunewald.
On his first agency:
I actually was with the Hendricks brothers before I switched to CSE. The reason for the switch, I don't know the whole ins and outs of it, but at some point in 2003 I think it was, SFX, I don't know if they bought out the Hendricks brothers or bought their company to become part of SFX, and for those two or three years I was still dealing with this new guy I had dealt with at the Hendricks brothers up until that point, and then the Hendricks brothers decided to leave and go back and be on their own again. But the guys that I had dealt with coming up through the minors were going to stay at SFX. So it kind of got to a situation of, who do I choose? Do I stay with SFX and the guys I dealt with on a daily basis, or do I go back with Alan and Randy, which at the time when I signed with them, they were the reason I signed because of what they had done in the game and how they had represented people up until that point.
So I had a window to sit down with my wife and decide, well, if we can't choose between either of them, this is an opportunity to at least interview with some other people. I had talked to John Smoltz, who I trust and I really looked up to as a teammate, and he said, "Before you do anything, you need to sit down with Lonnie Cooper at CSE." So I met with Lonnie and Keith and all the people up there and it was kind of a no-brainer for me, walking out of the office. I turned to my wife and she felt comfortable too, and I ended up signing with them.
On his decision to go with CSE:
I was at a crossroads in my career, I was getting ready to go into a season where I was going to arbitration eligible for the first time. After I talked with Lonnie and Keith, them being right there in Atlanta where I was playing at the time, and I felt comfortable with them. They weren't a huge agency at the time. Lonnie represented a lot of NBA basketball coaches and he had John [Smoltz] and a few other big leaguers at the time. I really felt like I could get the personal attention I needed and also it was nice for me to have my agent in my backyard where I lived.
On Lonnie and Keith:
I'm a straight shooter, I'm an honest guy, I'm not a needy client. I'm sure they'll tell you I'm the easiest client they probably ever had. I just want an honest opinion, I wanted to know everything about what was being said to me during free agency, good, bad, and different, from every team, but at the same time totally trusting them to push me in the right direction. Going back to 2006, the Rangers actually came to me in about August and wanted to sign me to an extension, and I hadn't made so-called "big league money" up until that point, and was really humbled by the offer, and honored, and excited. I called Lonnie and Keith and they steered me in the right direction. They were like, "No, you've gone this far, might as well play out the last two months and see what's on the free agent market." I ended up signing a three-year deal with the Cubs, so everything worked out.
For me it was just about feeling good about who I was represented by. I felt like they were a direct reflection of me, they have to be straight shooters, have to be honest, and have to surround themselves with good people. I figured if Smoltzie was with them then I needed to sit down with them.
On the free agency process:
I wanted to know everything. I wanted to know day-to-day stuff, which teams were calling, what they thought I could and couldn't do, what the monetary figures were. I had an idea for who I was as a player and as a person. That stuff never bothered me, I like to be honest. I learned a lot of that from Bobby Cox. A lot of managers say they have an open door policy, but Bobby lived it. I could go in and talk to him about anything, and I didn't necessarily like everything he told me throughout my tenure with the Atlanta Braves, but I never walked got in my car that night wondering where I stood in the organization. I wanted to be represented by people like that: tell me what they're saying, what they feel my strengths and weaknesses are, because that's going to play a big part in my decision.
On his decision to sign with the Rangers:
[My agents] played a huge role in that decision with me signing with Texas. Blowing out my knee at the end of '04 and getting non-tendered [by the Braves], here I am in the offseason rehabbing a torn ACL and everything that goes with that, and to have no job. I was definitely nervous at the time. I still felt I was going to come back and be a productive player, but what camp was I going to get into, how was I going to approach that. Lonnie and Keith steered me in the direction of, "Where can you get with the best hitting coach? Where can you find ABs but at the same time work on your craft and be a part of a team that has a chance to win?" Me and Keith ended up flying down to Texas and meeting with Rudy [Jaramillo] and Buck Showalter, and I just felt like it was a good fit. They had Mikey Young, and Soriano, and Blalock, and Teixeira. They had their infield pretty well set, so I knew I wasn't going to get much playing time, but it offered me such an opportunity to just every day work with Rudy Jaramillo and completely overhaul my swing.
On his reasons for jumping on the Cubs' offer quickly:
The fact that it was a guaranteed position. I was a utility player in Texas, I had moved around, played right, second, third, short, the whole deal. An opportunity to play in Wrigley Field for the Chicago Cubs I did not take lightly. What an opportunity, what a historic place to play. That all factored in. But I was going to play second base, barring injury. I ended up moving around due to other guys being banged up, but I always had a home at second. I felt that was huge for me. And, to be honest with you, it was my first time hitting free agency, and I only had up until that point one full season of playing every day. Didn't know how the market was going to play out, and wanted to kind of set it.
On his last couple of contracts with the Nationals and Blue Jays:
I have two young kids, I'm 38 years old. I feel it's got to be worth my while to grind it out, to put the effort in that needs to be put in for 162 games. Not only that, I'm fully cognizant of why teams bring me in. Not only to be a sounding board for their younger players, but to be a clubhouse guy. I still feel like I'm a viable option playing and can be productive playing. I feel like the last couple deals, the one with Washington, the one with Toronto, Lonnie and Keith…they know me, they know what I'm about. They gave me a chance to sign with a team that has a chance to win. I'm all about helping the young guys, passing down knowledge, because I was never a can't-miss guy. I picked the brains of all the great players I've played with and I've tried to incorporate their thought processes and what they do into my game, to keep me around as long as I can. I love talking the game with the younger players, but at the same time, I wasn't just just going to hang around to help young players. I want an opportunity to win a World Series.
On whether a small agency offers an advantage over the big ones:
To each his own, to be honest with you. It works for me. I like being able to call Lonnie and get him on the phone whenever I need him. I like to be able to pick his brain, because not only is he a great agent, he's also a great businessman. Not all of our talks revolve around baseball. He cares about how my family is doing, he's completely involved in what I'm going to do after the game. That stuff matters to me. Is he willing to pick up the phone and sit with me for an hour whenever I need to talk to him. And then there's Keith, who has become more than my agent, he's become my buddy. We play golf in the offseason, just someone I can confide in, knows probably my darkest secrets. He's become a great friend over the years.
Check out our other interviews in the Why I Chose My Agency series with Ted Lilly, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright, Jeremy Affeldt, David Wright, Jay Bruce, Matt Holliday, Jamey Carroll and Jake Odorizzi.
Though he's made only two Major League starts, 23-year-old Rays righty Jake Odorizzi is no stranger to MLBTR's pages. Currently considered a top 100 prospect in the game, Odorizzi was drafted 32nd overall out of high school in 2008, traded to the Royals in the December 2010 Zack Greinke deal, and traded again this offseason to the Rays in the James Shields deal. Recently I spoke with Jake about his agent, Jason Wood of Arland Sports.
On when he first came into contact with Jason:
I came in contact with him sometime in 2007. I knew there was a possibility that I could be drafted early. He was really the first guy we talked to, I met him through one of my friends I played summer ball with, he represented his older brother. We hit it off on a friendship level more than a professional level, that's kind of our thing. We became friends and it just kind of worked out for the best, really. He's originally from an area where I'm from, next to St. Louis.
On the process leading up to the draft in '08:
It was really easy for me, I didn't really have any focus on it. He was the guy that handled everything, if anybody had questions, like scouts or any teams. I never had to handle any of that stuff, all I had to do was focus on playing ball and that made things a lot easier for me, having him to take care of all that [rather] than having myself or my parents or anybody take care of it and me having to deal with it. So he helped me out tremendously, doing that.
On Jake's involvement in the negotiations after the Brewers drafted him:
He got an update from them, I got the update too. We went at it together. When he would hear something, I would be the very next person to hear it as soon as he could get a hold of me. I was involved in negotiations as well, and I was up-to-date with everything as it was going on.
On Jason's role as an agent after Jake signed:
Lining up endorsement deals, he negotiated all of that for me and takes care of my finances, does tax returns, all that kind of stuff for me. He handles a lot of things that make my life easier. He's very hands on, always keeps up-to-date with what's going on, informs you of anything. If you have any problems or issues or need something, one phone call and it's taken care of. He's very on top of his game.
On whether a small agency offers any advantages over the big ones:
I think it's more person-to-person, and I don't have to go through anybody else. It's really easy to just pick up the phone and you just have to call one person and it's done right then and there. I think it's more personable, really, talking to the same guy about everything. You don't feel like a dollar amount when you're in a smaller firm. [At a big agency] I'm sure some of them get lost in translation a little bit.
Twins infielder Jamey Carroll owns a .354 career on-base percentage, sixth in baseball history among those who have played at least 200 games each at second base, shortstop, and third base. The 11-year veteran is represented by Jonathan Maurer and Mike Montana of Millenium Sports Management, and he recently spoke to MLBTR about his agency.
On when he first came into contact with Maurer and Montana:
I believe it was when I was in Triple-A, because I was rooming with a teammate named Scott Mitchell, who was with Jonathan at the time. I didn't have an agent, and he wanted to know if I needed anybody, and at the time I wasn't sure. I didn't feel like I was the type of player that needed somebody. A lot of these players are prospects, the guys that need it. I met him and he was willing to accept me into his management company, and I didn't really know what I had that was going to be helpful or to offer him. He took me in when I was in a situation in my career where I wasn't sure where I was really heading. Nobody's knocking down the door of a utility guy in Triple-A that's 27 years old, to represent him.
On why he chose to go with MSM:
They both seemed to have that faith in me, so it became a no-brainer. They weren't a big group, I felt like there was a lot of personal one-on-one. They were open to being around and offering their time whenever we need it. I liked the family-oriented atmosphere, not in it for the numbers, but more for the right people and the right types of players. I like that small, close-knit-type family feeling.
On the role his agents filled for him, prior to contract negotiations:
They were into finding out who I was in the [Montreal Expos] organization, what the organization felt about me, and where I fit and what my chances were to keep getting opportunities. I think that's one of the most important things, where you sit within the organization. How they view you and what goals they have for you, I think those are tough questions to ask and they were able to do that for me. I was at a time where I had quite a few years in the minor leagues and wasn't sure what my future held. To me that was more important than worrying about contracts and shoe deals and stuff like that.
On his involvement in contract discussions:
My wife and I are extremely involved. It helps that my wife is a negotiator for a living [formerly a recruiter for the Gap corporation], so we were able to have good insight and anticipate how the progress goes and ask questions. Having her in my corner to know kind of questions to ask. I enjoyed it, I think it's an interesting process. I wanted to know everything that was involved in it.
On how the free agent process worked:
The first time through, it was a lot of, "When somebody calls, please call." But then I think the second time through, a certain point in the day you'd have your phone call and see what had happened, see what teams were involved, what the thought process of the teams were, where you think that you fit. You wait to a certain point, gather all the information, and start filing through. I'd get a certain team that was interested, I would then go and look at the team myself, see what the roster is like, and see where I thought that I would fit as far as playing time with that team.
On whether he's recommended his agents to other players:
It's ultimately an atmosphere, especially at this level, where everybody has their agent. Most of the time, if somebody's having an issue, that's when you hear about somebody who has changed agents. I keep an open ear for it, but at the same time, it's a tough atmosphere when it comes to that. A lot of people are in a situation like I am now, they've had an agent for some time. If the opportunity arises, I definitely will throw my two cents in.
Check out our other interviews in the Why I Chose My Agency series with Ted Lilly, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright, Jeremy Affeldt, David Wright, Jay Bruce, and Matt Holliday.
Mets first baseman Ike Davis bashed a career-best 32 home runs in 2012. Today I spoke with him about his relationship with his agent, Lou Jon Nero of Octagon.
On his first agent:
The first guy we ever met was Gregg Clifton, he was with Octagon at the time. My dad [former MLB pitcher Ron Davis] knew Clifton and he was like "Alright, whatever, we'll try you out for a little while." It wasn't like they could do much then because it was advisors. I hadn't been drafted or played my senior season yet. I started talking to him for a little bit, and personality-wise it wasn't a great fit. Before the season I met Lou Jon and we put him through the grinder a couple of times, made him come to the house for three or four dinners, and had dad question him. I was there, and I obviously didn't know much about what you're looking for at that time, being so young. It was just a personality test to make sure you're with good people. We don't like slimy people in the Davis family. He passed the test with flying colors, and we told him we'd like him to represent us, and I've been with him almost ten years.
On Octagon's acquisition of the baseball divisions of CSMG in 2008:
They were CSMG back in the day, when I first met them. CSMG said they were selling basketball and football, and our whole baseball office is going to Octagon.
Was that acquisition a concern?
Not really, because you don't go for the company. You go for the agent, the guy that is representing you. Companies will have four or five different agents and you have to find the one that you can communicate with, that understands what makes you tick and what to do and how to do things to keep you at your best level of play.
On how he decided he clicked with Lou Jon:
We spent a lot of time together. He's a young guy, he's not old school. He never made me feel like I didn't know what I was talking about. He never made me feel like I was inferior. He's kind of hip. He's around my age, and we like the same stuff. He's really up-to-date with technology, he's on top of all the things that I'm not always on top of. He's fun to hang out with, he's very family-oriented which I like. He doesn't have slicked-back hair, nice suits, a $100,000 watch — he's homey, kind of like I am. I don't like the shiny look on the agents, it's kind of freaky.
On considering signing when he was drafted out of high school by the Devil Rays in 2005:
It was about money, and what it would take to not go to college. Lou Jon basically said, "You're not going to go unless it's over a million dollars." At that time I was like, "You're crazy man, $700,000 is a lot of money." He said, "Don't worry about it, you're going to get money, you'll be in a better position." I got drafted, and I think the most they could probably come up with was maybe half a million or something like that. It was a lot of money to turn down at 18, but Lou said, "Don't worry, you've got three years of being in Tempe, Arizona [at Arizona State University], three years of the best time of your life, and you'll be drafted way higher when you're done. It's a win-win for you." He was letting me know, "Everything's fine dude, you're going to be great." He always had the right path in mind for me, which is really cool.
On the 2008 draft, in which he was taken 18th overall by the Mets:
That's actually pretty crazy, because the draft's a weird thing. The teams don't really know, the agents really can't tell you much unless you're the first or second pick. When you're after the first five or six picks, it's kind of like, "Who knows." One team might have you fourth on the board, one might have you 19th. It's different. I knew that I was going to get drafted in the top two rounds, didn't know yet if it was going to be by the Dodgers, who wanted me to pitch, or a team that wanted me to hit. Basically what I told every team was if you draft me, I was going to sign. I was like, "I'm going to sign if you draft me, so draft me."
Did that hurt your leverage?
No…one thing I like about Lou Jon is that we know what we're worth and what we're not. We're not trying to get crazy money out of people. You know that when you're drafted 19th you're not going to get $8MM. We know where we stand. We don't make people upset and we don't get upset because we're not asking for an unfair amount of money. The slot was like $1.4MM and I ended up getting $1.575MM. If Lou Jon was throwing out $3MM, then things might not happen. I probably wouldn't get drafted in the first 20 picks.
On what an agent does after a draft pick signs:
Off-the-field stuff like card signings and deals with equipment, and how not to get trapped into long-term deals with equipment when you could make the big leagues in a year, and you're in a three-year Nike deal, or a three-year deal with anybody, and instead of making that $10-12K a year, you're still making $500 a year. Say you're in the minor leagues and you really want to be with Under Armour, and they're like, "We'll give you all your cleats and we'll give you $500 in merchandise a year, but here, sign this five or six-year deal." You sign the deal and in a year and a half you're in the big leagues in New York, and you're this up-and-coming rookie that's making a big splash, you're going to have a chance to make over $20K a year instead of being on that $500 deal.
On his involvement in negotiations for his first-year arbitration salary in 2013:
I was pretty involved. My agency had come up with a booklet the size of the Yellow Pages, with all different players that were similar that I could be compared to. It's more for knowledge of why we think I should get the money. We came up with a number together, looking at all the people that have gone before me, this is the number that should be fair for a first year of arbitration. We said this number we're going with, we're not going any less, period. If they want to go less, then we go to arbitration. The biggest thing is sticking to your guns. We made a fair number, and this is what we deserve. We talked to MLB to make sure they thought it was a fair number, and they agreed.
We said [to the Mets], "We can end it right now simply if you just give us this, we'll sign that day." We started talking three or four days before that date. They came in at 2.8 [million], and we were like, "No, we want 3.125 and we're good." The good thing is we had quick communication. They said 2.8, we said no, 3.125. They said 3, we said 3.125. They said 3.1, we said 3.125. They said 3.120, we said 3.125. That day was over and it was past the date. The next day they go, "Here's the 3.125." The good thing is, we weren't asking for $4MM. We didn't have to go to arbitration and have potential to lose $800K or $1MM because we have a poor number.
On going year-to-year versus signing long-term:
I like being with Lou Jon because we're pretty open about what it will take and what's a good deal. We go over what is a fair deal to do. We're not asking crazy amounts, we just want what's fair, what I have proved on the field and what I deserve. If that comes to where the Mets do offer me an extension or want to extend me, me and Lou Jon will come up with a number that we think is a fair number — not a number that's not fair or we're pushing the envelope. If whoever doesn't want the fair number then obviously we'll go year-to-year and me and Lou Jon have no problem doing it, but guaranteed years and security is always nice. Lou Jon has a lot of confidence in me to go year-to-year and be fine if that's the case.
Has the team thrown anything out there to date?
No. We have not. The first thing I ever even heard about it was a couple of days ago, but there was no conversation, it was just a random passerby asked me if I knew they were thinking about extending me, and I was like, "Nah, I haven't heard of anything." I guess Sandy had said something to somebody that they were thinking about it, something like that.
Would you be open to giving up a free agent year or two to get that guarantee now?
I'm open to a conversation about anything. The free agency years are obviously the tough ones, because those are the years that you have the potential to sign a bigger contract for a longer term. As for arbitration, I wouldn't mind a three or four-year deal where it takes arbitration out of it. We're more inclined to take care of the arbitration years. They always say your first deal, it's mutual, but it's team-oriented, and your free agency is obviously player-oriented. Me and Lou Jon are up for anything, but it has to make sense.
On whether he's recommended Lou Jon to other players:
Me and Lou Jon are really good friends now. We've known each other for ten years, I know his whole family and we spend a lot of time together. He comes over, we'll go to hole-in-the-wall food places, my brother hangs out with him, he's around a lot. But I also hang out with baseball players. I don't like pressuring people into doing stuff. That's another reason Lou Jon's really cool, is that he never pressures my friends, asking questions about how they feel about their agents. He knows that if they were looking for an agent, they would ask him about it.
On whether a larger agency offers an advantage over a small one:
For sure. When I was with CSMG with Lou Jon, it was a good-sized agency, but it was small. Once they moved to Octagon, there's just more people reaching out trying to improve your brand, getting more opportunities and more business ventures. There's more connections and more hands that are working on stuff.
Check out our other interviews in the Why I Chose My Agency series with Ted Lilly, Ryan Ludwick, Cody Ross, Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright, Jeremy Affeldt, David Wright, Jay Bruce, and Matt Holliday.
Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ted Lilly has been with agent Larry O'Brien since before he broke into the big leagues with the Montreal Expos in 1999. O'Brien formed Full Circle Sports Management a few years ago. Lilly recently spoke with MLBTR about his relationship with his longtime agent:
“I had some representation when I signed and just kind of got into it and it wasn’t the right fit for me. This was at the end of 1996 and I wasn’t really looking for an agent but I agreed to meet with Larry with really no intention of getting an agent. I didn’t feel that I really needed one and I wasn’t in the middle of anything. It was after my first year of pro ball and I wasn’t in the middle of any negotiations, but after talking to him and getting to know him, I didn’t make any commitments but just felt more and more comfortable with his genuine personality. I felt like his motives were in the right place, and it still is the same today. It’s not about the money. A lot of guys I’m sure say that but knowing Larry for as long as I have, when I say it’s still the same, it’s still the same that it really isn’t about the money. He really enjoys helping young guys out.
“I kind of thought I was going to get the Jerry Maguire deal which was what I got with the majority of guys I ran across. Style is one thing but for me, it takes a back seat to substance and that’s what Larry is about. What you see is what you get. It’s all real. He’s very bright and he’s helped me out in a lot of different ways. Certainly with my baseball career but some of the other things that go on outside that. He has a ton of experience in real estate and he’s helped me with some investments over the years too.
“When we met he wasn’t pursuing any clients at the time. He just wasn’t actively pursuing it. He had represented some guys before and done some negotiations but I think he was also successful in the commercial real estate industry and he represented players because he liked it. He had made a good living in his other business and understood the art of negotiations and dealing with people so he wanted to continue to do this to some degree and now he’s partnered up with a couple guys and they’ve turned it into a full-fledged group and they are doing well now. He’s brought in Kurt Varricchio who has some experience in representation himself and Barton Cerioni who has some negotiating experience in the law field so I think he’s put together a good team and group of guys that can help their clients on the field and whatever else they need.
“He’s definitely more than just my agent. He’s a good friend. He’s a very bright guy so as far as investments and making good choices, certainly in real estate and some other endeavors he’s done well. I think maybe because he’s Irish and he gets a little lucky too.
“I think it goes back to honesty and loyalty. I have told him this before and it’s a good thing, but he never turns anyone down. He’s never let any kids go. He’s loyal and sometimes being in the business, you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but maybe it’s not the right situation, but it’s hard for him to do that. It might not always be best for the business, but you know he’s going to stick with you no matter what. To the end, whichever direction your career may go, Larry will be there. I think from what I’ve seen and having to be in professional baseball for 17 years, that’s pretty unusual really. In the industry you don’t see that. I’m sure the big agencies do a good job but having a number of friends that have gone that route, when their career is no longer as promising as it once was, they get forgotten about very quickly. Not with Larry. He’s done a great job.”
The Reds' Ryan Ludwick enjoyed a bounceback year in 2012, posting a .275/.346/.531 batting line with 26 home runs in 472 plate appearances. The outfielder spoke to MLBTR about his relationship with the Beverly Hills Sports Council and why he chose them.
How did you first come into contact with Dan Horwits and the Beverly Hills Sports Council?
I think I was a little bit of a unique situation in that my brother [Eric Ludwick] was represented by them and I got to know Danny through my brother while I was in high school, but I wasn't highly recruited out of high school. A lot of teams wanted me to pitch, like my brother, but I didn't want to. I didn't have representation then but as time went on through high school and college at UNLV, I built a relationship with Danny before he was even really my agent, more as a family friend. It was a pretty easy decision when it came time.
Were there other agencies hoping to represent you before you signed on with BHSC? Why did you choose BSHC over them?
I did get recruited by other agents in the game and I listened to a couple of them and I let them come into the house and talk about how they were better than other guys. But, for me, the decision had already been made.
Besides contract negotiations, what else does BHSC do for you that you value?
Just about everything. I know the social media thing is really big right now but I'm a pretty Plain Jane type of dude. I don't have a Twitter or a Facebook account but I know a lot of players in the agency that have them help out with a lot of stuff like that. For me, they help with basic stuff like taxes, card deals, equipment, getting your Nike deal or your Wilson deal set up, and you get a little bit of perks too. I'll call Danny and he'll get concert tickets or dinner reservations…Me and the wife and some friends on New Year's we went down to the Florida keys and they'll even help out with that stuff. Anything under the sun, they'll help out with. The good thing about Danny is, I was at his wedding and I've known him forever and he's really like a big brother to me. I know I can call him about anything and I can ask him for everything and I think I've paid him back, so I think we're good.
From what you've seen, how common or uncommon is it for a player to have that type of relationship with his agent?
Everyone is different. Everyone's goals or mindset is different. I think with some guys, whether that's an agent or player, you get egos that are all about the money. I'm not trying to be rude or inconsiderate but I think that happens in everyday life, whether you're an agent or a lawyer or a doctor, a car salesman, whatever that might be, I think some people are about money and some are about happiness and friendships and enjoying what they're doing. For me, the friendship aspect was more important for me. But, that being said, I also knew that [BHSC], they're very good at what they do. There are a lot of guys out there, and I know [MLBTradeRumors] is doing a lot of agencies in this series, but they're in the top percentile of agencies out there.
When you look at Danny Horwits' record in arbitration, it's pretty good, I don't think he's ever lost. We settled outside of hearings every time and each and every time we got what we wanted. He's very good at that and I'm really really thankful that he's on our side in that respect.
You spent parts of nine seasons in the minors with five organizations due to injuries and trades before finally breaking through in 2007 with St. Louis. How did BHSC help you through those tough times?
It's a pretty lengthy story with Danny and I. Not even after my first full season in pro ball, I was drafted in '99 and in 2000 for the first half of the season I was in High-A ball in Modesto and I was hitting .200 with, I think, four home runs at the break and I remember calling my future wife up and my brother and my mom and Danny up and being like, "I'm done." I didn't even have a full year under my belt yet but I had never failed before and I felt like I was failing tremendously. Looking back on it, I've done that numerous times now, but that first time he told me to take a deep breath and that I'll be alright…He reminded me that a lot of people struggle when they get to pro ball and Danny has always been there behind me, whether it be then to when I eventually caught fire to my injuries.
I've had a lot of injuries as well, some people don't know about. I have an eight inch titanium rod in my hip, a six inch titanium rod in my ulna, I've had two knee surgeries, I've had a GI bleed which is a pretty bad ulcer where I had like five holes in my stomach from all the anti-inflammatories I was taking trying to get better from all the surgeries…There have been numerous times where I could have given up and Danny was there for me.
Have you ever recommended Dan to a player looking for representation or thinking about changing representation?
It's funny, he doesn't ever ask me to do that. I know he's asked other guys to do that when they have their eyes on a certain guy who may or may not have certain representation. But he really hasn't asked me to do that too much. There are guys that I've gone up to on my own and I ask what they're thinking. I always tell them that I'm very happy with my representation at the Sports Council and I tell them that it's a strong way to go. But he's never harped on me to recruit other players.
After a strong 2012, you turned down your side of a $5MM mutual option. Were you anxious to get your contract hammered out over the offseason and how often did you find yourself checking in with your agent as talks progressed this winter?
I called him quite frequently and he called me quite frequently. I think the important thing is that whenever I called, he's there. Danny is always there and he always got back to me promptly. Going through the arbitration process three times and then into the free agency process, I didn't want to believe him at times. Every step of the way there were times that I didn't trust his opinion, but in all three arbitration cases he was 100% correct and every time I got panicky in the season about free agency he was always correct. Like I said, he's always given me good advice and he's always right. I've been with him since '99 and I really don't have any gripes. I mean, I wish he could have gotten me an everyday big league job a little bit sooner but that's probably my fault, not his.
Were you at at all hesitant about turning down the option for 2013?
Not at all. I knew right away, we both knew right away, that we were going to go after a multi-year deal. I had never had one before. There were times in St. Louis where I played well early in my career that I thought St. Louis might let me have some security and play there. Then I went to San Diego and I had that awful year that got in my dome and mentally I just wasn't right. I went into free agency after that season, after being with San Diego and getting traded to Pittsburgh, thinking it was going to be a great thing.
It ended up being a thing where I only had four or five teams interested and I took a huge pay cut from the season before and I thought, "Hey man, I'm finally going to get my three year deal," and I only got a one year deal. I went to Cincinnati last year and Danny said, "You know, if you're unhappy with what you've got going, you've got no one to blame but yourself. If you're unhappy, you have to go out there and use Cincinnati to your advantage."
Cincinnati was a place I wanted to go but we were talking to other teams. Danny agreed with me, he said that we had to listen to other teams but that Cincinnati was the best fit. For one, it's a completely different ballpark from San Diego, it's a lot more hitter friendly. And for me, it was my favorite team growing up, Eric Davis was my favorite player, it's where my mom and dad were born and raised, and it just kind of struck home. It was a good feeling and he said that I should use it to my advantage to get back to where I was. I think after last year's season I proved to other people and Danny that I can still hit a little bit. And you know, Walt [Jocketty], Danny, and I got together and I let it be known to Walt that I wanted to stay there and that I was very happy with the situation I was in. Danny and him got the deal hammered out and I'm very thankful to be where I'm at.
Within the latest entry in MLBTR's Why I Chose My Agency series, Arizona outfielder Cody Ross talks about his relationship with SFX and his primary agents Mike Milchin and Mark Pieper. Ross signed a three-year, $26MM deal with the Diamondbacks this past offseason.
How did you come in contact with your agent Mike Milchin?
“I was with an agent right out of high school after I got drafted and I did my own deal but I ended up having to fire him. The guy who drafted me, Jim Olander, was good friends with Mike Milchin and he ended up calling me and Mike and Mark Pieper came out and sat down with me and basically told me what they were all about. I was in low-A ball and going into my second full year of professional baseball. That’s a time where you can really get taken in and smoothed by agents promising you equipment deals and wining and dining you and for some reason I had the ability to look past that and go with what was most important and that’s what can an agent do for you in arbitration and free agency.
“As a young player obviously you want to hear, ‘I’m going to be able to get you this bat deal and be able to get you this glove deal and this equipment deal’ but at the end of the day that’s not what’s important. What’s important and what sold me on them is they didn’t make any promises like that with me. What they talked about mostly was arbitrations and free agency contracts that they’ve signed and the way they go about it. They had a very good reputation as far as arbitration goes and I actually ended up going to a hearing with them and we ended up winning so I got to see it first-hand. The work and preparation that they do for each one of their clients, there’s a lot of good agents out there, but they put in the time and the work needed to be prepared to go to a hearing and that was huge. A lot of guys don’t do that."
What was it that impressed you about SFX?
“I actually sat down and interviewed quite a few agents and ultimately ended up picking SFX and couldn’t be happier. I’ve built a relationship with these guys that’s going to last not only through my playing career but throughout the rest of my life. I’ve built those kinds of friendships and that’s what you really want. That’s what the game is about, friendships and being able to call somebody your friend when the game is over. Obviously it’s a business and you want the best out of your agent. I’m not sitting here saying you should hire your friend as your agent. Not at all. You want to go out as a young player and interview multiple agents and ask them what they do in arbitration and what they do as a free agent and look at their rap sheet and their history and that was big for me.
“Here’s my thing. With my agent, Mike is always available, no matter what. I can call him at two in the morning or at noon on a Sunday and he’ll always be available and if he’s not he gets back to me ASAP. He makes me feel like I’m his only client and at the end of the day that’s what you want. You want to feel like your agent is almost like the movie Jerry Maguire, where your agent will do everything for you no matter what. That’s the feeling I get from my guy.”
How did SFX and Mike help get you what you wanted in your recent free agent experience this past offseason?
“Free agency is definitely an interesting process because it’s finally the time where you put in all that hard work and you get to choose where you want to play but sometimes choosing where you want to play doesn’t always end up being where you want to be. Fortunately for me it did and it worked out. A lot of times you go into free agency and teams you would like to play for don’t really have that sort of need.
“At the beginning of the offseason you know I was getting calls here and there and some feelers but it was kind of quiet and Mike just kept telling me to be patient and I was, and I believed in him that he was going to get the job done, but I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times where we would go a few days without hearing anything. But he always called me every night no matter what to kind of go over everything and some guys like that some guys might not. Some guys might not want to be called until they have an offer but I wanted to be in the process and know what was going on.
“I wasn’t picky although I did tell him I definitely wanted to try and get back over to the west coast because my family was from Arizona and I have two kids who are in school so those are things that we talked about, what’s important, location, length of contract, the AAV, those were the types of things we went over and like I said, luckily I got the best of both worlds. I basically got what I wanted and to be where I wanted to be. That was a lot to do with him being patient, us both being patient, but him really trying to look at every opportunity that was out there.”