Enigmatic hurler Trevor Bauer has left the Wasserman Media Group to become the first client of Luba Sports, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Luba Sports is a new sports agency started by Rachel Luba, who officially became certified as an MLB agent on November 1st. Luba Sports will make up just one part of Bauer’s new representation, however. Bauer hired another certified MLB agent, Jon Fetterolf, a litigator from Zuckerman Spaeder who has a history of assisting agents in arbitration proceedings.
Bauer had no qualms with his previous agency, who did, after all, help him win consecutive arbitration cases against the Cleveland Indians, but at this stage in his career, he’s looking not only at his own upcoming arbitration case, but at the system as a whole. Surprise surprise, but the innovative and free-thinking Bauer has eyes towards making a difference for the betterment of players. Still, Bauer makes a point not to disparage the Wasserman Media Group or the current system. Rather, he aims to give players another option of representation moving forward
As such, the structure of representation set up between Bauer, Luba, and Fetterolf differs from the standard practice in baseball, in which players typically pay 5% of their salaries to their agents upon reaching the majors. Instead, Fetterolf will make a lower commission (1.5 to 2.5%) that differs depending on the player’s career status, plus an hourly rate. Still, the overall fee caps at 5% for an arbitration-eligible player and 4% for a free agent. Depending on the hourly workload, then, players have the potential to pay a good deal less under this structure.
The goal of this system would be to allow players to pay strictly for services rendered, thereby allowing a more personalized agency experience. Rather than being locked into the commission model, an “a la carte” system gives players the option of paying less for fewer services (or paying more for more). This would not wholly upend the player-agent relationship, though it does provide an interesting opportunity for players to reconsider the current structure and explore a system that might work more in their favor. It’s certainly on brand for Bauer to push for this type of innovation, and it will be interesting to follow the extent to which Luba Sports or similar agencies can make inroads with the MLB player community.
Bauer and Luba’s relationship dates back to their days as undergraduates at UCLA when they met in a communication studies class. Luba would go on to become an attorney and work for the players’ union during the 2018 arbitration season. She would be offered a position as an agent with another agency, but chose to forge her own path instead.
The timing here, of course, is not coincidental as Bauer prepares for his final time through arbitration this winter. MLB Contributor Matt Swartz projects Bauer to earn $18.6MM with the Reds this season.