The William Morris Endeavor Agency (WME) has made fairly rapid strides in MLB player representation over the past two years. Carlos Correa hired WME’s Jon Rosen in September 2019. In 2021, the company landed a few notable player reps formerly of established agencies like Excel Sports Management and CAA. (WME also briefly hired Billy Eppler between his stints as general manager of the Angels and Mets).
Last month, Endeavor also announced the purchase of a handful of minor league teams, including the Triple-A affiliates of the Cubs, Yankees, Braves and Cardinals (report via Business Wire). At the time, the company expressed a desire to buy additional minor league clubs — all of which are under the purview of Diamond Baseball Holdings, a subsidiary organization of Endeavor’s with a stated goal of “supporting, promoting and enhancing the sport of baseball through professional management, best practices, innovation and investment.”
That combination is apparently not sitting well with the MLB Players Association. Evan Drellich of the Athletic reports that the union, which is responsible for regulating player agents, has warned WME’s reps they’re in danger of losing their MLBPA agent certifications if they don’t divest themselves from Endeavor. Union regulations prohibit agents from acquiring or holding financial interests in professional baseball teams unless authorized by the MLBPA to do so.
Reached by MLBTR, a spokesperson for Endeavor declined comment. Drellich notes that MLBPA regulations do contain an appeals process for agent-union disputes, although it’s not clear whether the WME-MLBPA situation will eventually require such a development.
Buying up minor league teams. Man thats a mighty endeavor right there.
I can definitely see the conflict of interests. Not sure what they’re thinking.
For Love of the Game
What conflicts? Minor league teams don’t choose or pay the players and coaches; they operate under player development contracts and are little more than landlords hosting players and coaches as they move through the ranks.
The only conflict would be if they unionized minor league players, which wouldn’t be a good idea because it would lead to further contraction of the minors in favor of unaffiliated leagues.
However, if agents have a contract that precludes ownership, well a contract is a contract and the agents ought to know how to read the fine print.
It would be a conflict if they own the team and use that access to sign players to their agency.
As long as they don’t sign any player that ever played for them, there’s no conflict.
Maybe they shouldn’t be allowed to sign anyone who played for their endeavor owned teams
Milb team owners have no control on which players get sent through their team or for how long.
So you basically answered your own question with your last paragraph. That part is clearly the conflicting issue.
For Love of the Game
Iowa, having contract language saying you can’t do something isn’t a “conflict of interest;” it is a violation of the contract. Those are two entirely different legal issues.
@4theloveofthegame cool. So the clause was made because of clear conflict of interest. Regardless it violates both the contract and any concept of conflict of interest. You can’t spin this story. The word play was cute tho.
It’s a complete conflict of interest, it’s so offside it’s mind blowing that it was even able to go through.
Using minor league teams as access to players for the agency, promising playing time based on signing switching representation, giving preferential treatment to players already signed to the agency, etc etc.
It’s fine. Really, the only guys they would sign as FA’s are retreads, who have been released and have almost -0- chance of becoming MLB players, or IFA guys anyway. What’s wrong with that?
Old days, MLB teams owned their own MiLB franchises, but that all ended 30-40y ago when they found a way to make a dime and sold the rights to them, so who cares? Somebody wants to buy them? Fine, Endeavor pays the most? Sell it to them. Stop messing with free enterprise, which so many do all the time.
That’s hogwash. They’re buying minor league teams. Superstar prospects and mediocre retreads both play in the minors. Takes one 10 minute conversation to plant a seed in a major leaguer rehabbing an injury that your agency will get more money than their current agent. It’s a huge conflict of interest cmon
You’re speaking like MiLB owners control which players they have, how long they have them, and which ones play. Everyone knows the parent club controls these things. It’s laughable to insinuate a player will benefit from which agency represents him at any point in time before reaching arbitration or negotiating an extension like Wander Franco signed last year. If you don’t believe me, just ask Kris Bryant.
I don’t get it. The minor league players aren’t even members of the players union. Nor are they even cared about by the players union. What’s the big deal.
Another reason for this MLBPA to just go away. They’ve out grown there intended use
It is about talent recruitment for an agency. It potentially gives William Morris an unfair advantage to accessing talent to sign as representatives.
The corporation(s) that own the MILB franchise(s) are not the owners of the MLB franchise(s). The MILB franchises decide which MLB organization can call their field home. The MLB organization’s player development team decide which players report to which MILB affiliate. The players hire their agent before they sign with an MLB team. The said agent has no control over which MILB affiliate a player is assigned.
This does seem like a pretty clear violation.
The MLBPA should move forward with unionizing the minor leagues affiliated with MLB. It’s a headache they’ve wanted to avoid, but once they control all the talent, they’ll have greater control over future CBA negotiations.
Good for the MLBPA. This is just loaded with possible issues. MLB is just becoming a joke.
Two paragraphs in is all you need to read and you can see the conflict of interest. Bold move by WME/Endeavor.
For Love of the Game
Where is the conflict of interest? See my post above.
I’m not saying WME’s move isn’t problematic. It appears to violate their contract with MLBPA.
I would imagine that the conflict of interest would be that if they own a team that has players they represent on it they may be inclined to advance the careers of those players over others..or even over fielding the best team.. Also opens the doors to ” you want to be the closer on my team? sign with my agents. type deals
Not saying there’s not a conflict of interest, but MiLB teams have no say in player or coaching personnel. The parent club dictates who advances, who stays, do gets demoted and what role they play. The actual MiLB team doesn’t dictate any of that.
But they control who gets on the field and who has access to the coaches.
I wouldn’t want to be signed to another agency when playing on another agency owned MiLB team.
There’s more subtlety to making the majors than fans can appreciate.
Minor league teams are the means by which players grow and develop.
If player agents own said minor league teams, those teams have an incentive to prioritize growth (and subsequent promotion, and subsequent $$$) of the players represented by those agents at the expense of others.
The teams will not act in the best interest of all players if they’re incentivized to act in the best interest of only a few.
The MiLB teams don’t make those choices.
Doesn’t mean an agent/owner wouldn’t get his guys more access. That’s the entire problem here. Agents/owners being incentivized by how their specific players turn out. If they make more money long term off a guy they have signed eventually some agent/owner will start giving out extra access. Whether that’s getting into the stadium, using said stadium to host event to make your clients better, etc. the number of incentives this would give agents to invest extra in there own clients would be impossible to pass up. They’d instantly have an edge in producing more Mlb players and therefore more $ in there pockets.
It’s a WWE Smackdown!
I thought it said WWE at first glance. Damn.
Now THAT would’ve been fun to see at minor league games been innings.
The conflicts are endless. MLBPA isn’t always right on everything, but this seems fairly obvious.
deal with it…
Could Endeavor just get around this by agreeing to not represent any players in those farm systems…or by having to cut ties with any players that are traded and end up in those systems? Although that may just make a player weary of signing with them in the first place I guess, because that’s just an unneeded headache.
I can’t imagine they would put their minor league business ahead of their agency.
I still don’t understand how owners of minor league teams make money. In most cases, they don’t pay the players nor do they own the stadiums they play in. What expenses are they responsible for and what revenue is theirs to keep?
This company recently made a bid in on the AAA Red Sox team (Woo Sox). The Woo Sox just built a $100M stadium in Worcester and I believe their bid for the team was $50M so they obviously aren’t buying the new stadium. What are they proposing to buy if they don’t own the stadium and don’t pay the players?
Chicks dig owners – its all about the babes
Primarily gate and concession receipts and local advertising, I assume. They likely also receive some money above and beyond just what it costs to pay players and accommodations in their contracts with the MLB team. They may also get a share of MLB.tv minor-league TV packages, but I’m not certain.
But the big thing is probably this: You can always sell the team later. Much as there is a finite number of major-league teams, so too a finite number of minor-league affiliates which works to keep the value moving up. If you can pay yourself a bit of money every year for administrative fees and then get back more than you paid later on if you sell, well, the return is both pretty decent and pretty stable.
Of course they do.
Conflict of interest.
Would also be great to see WME start fighting for better minor league pay and benefits.
Maybe they should buy a bunch of single A teams too
If they don’t back out and its a real issue for the MLBPA, MLB and/or Teams then teams can move their affiliates to another location. It doesn’t happen every year but it happens.
Not saying it is easy but the threat of might push it.
Hand the ownership off to a 3rd party offshore company that funnels the profits to Endeavor. Problem solved.
Ouch. WME broke the rules they are supposed to understand better than anyone other than the union reps. Now their agents will be decertified meaning they will lose all their MLB clients. Hope minor league team ownership is very profitable.