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.”