Word broke earlier this month that agent Rafa Nieves was leaving the Wasserman Agency, and Nieves tweeted yesterday from his personal account that he had finalized his departure. The next step appears to be his own firm, as Nieves’s Twitter bio identifies himself as the CEO and founder of Republik Sports.
As per Jesse Dougherty of the Washington Post (Twitter link), “many players” currently represented by Nieves are leaving Wasserman for Republik. A look at Republik’s Instagram page gives hints about some of those names, and the TalkNats blog tweets that Nationals outfielder Victor Robles will indeed be joining Nieves at the new agency. This change has been reflected in MLBTR’s Agency Database.
It was less than three years ago that Nieves joined Wasserman, bringing several well-known clients (including Robles, Jose Ramirez, Gregory Polanco, Alex Colome, Francisco Cervelli, Frankie Montas, and Kelvin Herrera) along with him to the agency. Nieves, a 36-year-old Venezuela native, has already become a notable figure in the representation business, as detailed by The Athletic’s Marc Carig in a profile from last August.
The 22-year-old Robles became an everyday player for the first time in 2019, hitting .255/.326/.419 with 17 homers over 617 plate appearances for Washington. While Robles’ hitting (88 OPS+, 91 wRC+) was nothing to write home about, he was a major plus on the basepaths and especially in the outfield. Robles immediately established himself as one of the sport’s top defensive center fielders, posting a +6.1 UZR/150, +23 Defensive Runs Saved, and a league-best 23 Outs Above Average. This performance earned Robles a sixth-place finish in NL Rookie Of The Year voting, and his emergence helped the Nats make up for the departure of Bryce Harper in the outfield as the franchise went on to capture its first World Series title.
Between his age, glovework, and a solid offensive track record in the minors that hints at more progress to come at the plate, Robles looks like a foundational player for Washington. He is still two years away from arbitration eligibility and is under team control through the 2024 season. Though teams are unable to discuss contract extensions during the league-wide roster freeze, it stands to reason that the Nats would have interest in locking Robles up in a long-term deal. It’s worth mentioning that Nieves has a couple of prominent early-career extensions on his record, negotiating Ramirez’s current contract with the Indians and Polanco’s ongoing deal with the Pirates.