Moderator: Jerry Crasnick will hit the chat room at 2 p.m. ET
to discuss his new book, “License To Deal: A Year in the Life of a
Maverick Baseball Agent”. Please note, this is not a 2005 Draft chat.
Allan Simpson will be here Friday afternoon to discuss the upcoming
John S. from Gastonia asks: Why
do players select Scott Boras as an agent — all it seems he does is
delay the beginning of careers. With guy like Stephen Drew getting such
a huge offer, why not sign?
Thanks for the question. Obviously, Boras is a huge lightning rod both
pro and con. I think he definitely appeals to a certain type of player.
Many of his advisees — and their parents — feel they’re worthy of
“special” treatment because of their elite talent. History shows that
Scott is going to get you a lot of money. But if you’re a kid who wants
to go out and play right away, he’s definitely not for you.
PimPim from Philly asks: What are the legalities for getting agents? why are college players allowed to have advisors? Isn’t that the same?
The system of baseball players having agents or “advisers” is rife
with hypocrisy. A kid can’t sign with an agent until after the draft
because he risks losing his college eligibility. But everybody knows
the teams are talking to the advisers, and vice versa. It’s just a
given that it’s part of the process now.
Cheryl from Toronto asks: What are the qualifications for being an agent? Do you have to apply somewhere or be certified?
It’s surprising how much difference there is between baseball and, say,
football. In the NFL, you have to pass a test, pay a fee and fulfill
certain educational requirements. In baseball, you need to have a
40-man roster client, and you’re essentially an agent. And you can’t
have any felony convictions. So I guess Charles Manson wouldn’t qualify.
Finners from Cleveland asks: Do
agent steal clients from one another? What is that process like? Does a
player sign a year long or more contract with an agent?
Yes, agents steal players from each other with regularity. You’d be
shocked by how pervasive it is. That’s a major handicap for people
trying to get established in the business — fending off the sharks.
One problem is, the union hasn’t shown that it really cares about the
issue very much.
Mike Marinaro from Tampa, FL asks: What is the common eduactional and occupational background of the agents you have researched for your book?
I don’t think there really is a common trait. Being an attorney helps,
given all the contract work, and some agents sell the fact that they’re
former ballplayers. I think that’s Boras’ biggest selling point — he’s
both a lawyer and a former ballplayer. Honestly, the most important
thing a person needs if they’re trying to get established as an agent
is a big bankroll. You can lose an awful lot of money for several years.
Josh from L.A. asks: Who
really is making the call here? Can’t Stephen Drew or Jarrad Weaver
just tell Scott Boras to stop it and they want to sign? Do they ever
talk to the players?
That’s what Boras’ critics say — that he calls all the shots, and that
the players basically work for him instead of the other way around.
Boras denies that’s the case, obviously. I’m sure Scott talks to his
players, but they depend a lot on his advice and his counsel.
Mark from Coral Springs, Fla. asks: What
percentage of players don’t have agents? What is the biggest
disadvantage in not having an agent? Does a player really need an agent?
I talked to a lot of parents while doing my book, and most of them said
it was very helpful to have an adviser during the draft process. The
draft is a stressful time for families, and it’s tough to deal with all
those scouts, the rumors, preparing for the draft, etc. Even people
with teams tell me that they’d rather deal with an agent, or adviser,
in many cases, because it removes the emotion from the process. On the
other side of the coin, I have to wonder if a kid being picked in the
sixth or eight or 18th round really needs an agent. And a lot of scouts
would say that “slotting” makes agents a lot less relevant.
Ken Jennings from JeopardyLand asks: Jerry!
I love your work on ESPN and can’t wait for the book! The except
mentions Matt Harrington working at Target now. Does he have any legal
recourse for the seemingly AWFUL job Tanzer did?
Thanks for the nice note. Harrington was in the process of pursuing
legal action, but it’s been settled out of court, and my understanding
is that he recouped a sizeable amount in his settlement. Still, that
entire episode was a mess, and hopefully we won’t see anything like it
Brian from Austin asks: How
much money to the best agents make? If some pick signs for five
million, how much does the agent get? is it different with signing
bonuses for draft picks and mlb free agents?
Well, if a kid signs for $5 million and the agent gets a 3-5 percent
cut, that’s $150,000 to $250,000. But not many kids sign for $5
million. And after the kid signs, it might be 6-7 years before he’s
making decent coin in the big leagues — if he gets there at all. Even
Scott Boras told me that it took something like 8 years before he
started running his agency in the black. You have to have patience and
a strong stomach.
J.P. Whatley from Spray, Oregon asks: Jerry, after what you’ve learned about agents writing your book, would you ever consider being an agent yourself?
God, no. I don’t have the money, for starters. And I couldn’t stand the
constant confrontation. I talked to dozens of agents who eventually
became jaded or bitter because of the client-stealing, the animosity,
etc. It’s an unbelievably tough racket.
Chris from Raleigh, NC asks: Jerry,
I enjoyed the excerpt. IN hanging around the Sosnick-Cobbe group for a
while, did you have a sense that Dontrelle Willis was getting in better
shape this offseason, and would come out so strong this year (last
night’s start notwithstanding!). Thanks for your time.
Actually, Dontrelle had a quality start last night (6 innings, 3 earned
runs) and might have had a chance to win if the bullpen didn’t implode.
I think the more you hang around him, the bigger a fan of him you
become. He’s incredibly well-grounded for a kid who has had so much
early success. He attached himself to a good role model — Juan Pierre
— who knows the meaning of hard work. And now he’s reaping the
Mike from mineola, ny asks: What
else does the job of an agent entail. AFter a guy signs, is the process
pretty much over until his next contract needs to be negotiated? THANKS
FOR THE CHATT!!!!!
To be honest, if an agent is representing a kid in the minors, he
spends a lot of time making sure the kid has equipment and helping him
with girlfriend problems and other issues. In some ways, agents are
like glorified babysitters. The interesting stuff comes when the kid
makes it to the majors and is eligible for arbitration or free agency.
But by then, he might have already left for one of the mega-agencies.
Justin from Columbus asks: Is Tanzer even an agent now? Why would anybody hire him?
Tommy Tanzer has combined his agency with CSMG, which is run by Alan
Nero. Tanzer still has several established clients, like Steve Finley,
but he’s gradually stepping away from the business. He told me that he
wants to be a “sports gossip comedian.” Whatever you think of him, the
guy is quite entertaining.
ROBERT from SEATTLE asks: IS SCOTT BORAS BAD FOR BASEBALL?
That definitely depends on who you ask. A lot of scouting directors and
general managers might say so, but I think they respect him as a
formidable adversary. Carlos Beltran, J.D. Drew, Bernie Williams and
Kevin Brown sure like him a lot. Gene Orza of the Players Association
said he admires Boras because Scott doesn’t care if teams like him.
Boras thinks that’s a sign he’s doing his job.
Coop from Upper Arlington, OH asks: Many
NBA players (like Ray Allen) now just have lawyers instead of agents,
as a lot of the contracts are fixed, moneywise. With the draft having
slot bonuses, do you see this happening in baseball?
We’ve already seen it in the big leagues, with guys like Matt Morris,
Curt Schilling and Jamie Moyer negotiating their own deals with the
help of a lawyer to go over the contract language. I’m pretty sure that
Rickie Weeks of the Brewers uses Lon Babby, a highly-respected attorney
who represents a bunch of NBA players. The problem with the baseball
draft is, a player’s adviser is going to influence where he’s picked —
and that might have an impact on his bonus. I don’t care what teams say
— that’s how it works.
Mark DeCascos from The Worst Lumbario in Rio asks: What
do you make of the Yankees? Are we seeing the real team during this
10-game win streak or is it a product of weak competition? Do you
anticipate them being able to climb back into it before the all-star
Glad to take a non-agent question. The Yankees definitely benefited
from playing the A’s and Mariners, but they’ll also benefit from
playing Kansas City, Tampa Bay and some other AL punching bags once
they get rolling. Now that the hysteria has subsided, I think we’re
looking at a 95-win playoff team. I know they’re old and vulnerable to
injury, but they’ve got too many weapons not to be a contending club.
Chuck from Lenexa asks: How
do clubs have enough time during the draft to call agents players and
ask them these signability questions? I mean, the guys you’re calling
could be picked right as your on the phone, and the draft goes so fast.
There’s a lot of advance planning and pre-draft intelligence that goes
into the process — especially in the first few rounds. These teams
have meeting after meeting and have to anticipate dozens of scenarios.
Derrik from Texas asks: Does Stephen Drew or Jered Weaver make it in the top 5 this year? Or the top 10 for that matter?
If I had to place a wager, I’d bet that Drew signs with the D-backs and
Weaver signs with the Angels right before the draft. Call me cynical,
but I think a lot of this is posturing and gamesmanship.
Ray from LaLaLand asks: Jerry
— last year there seemed to be record bonuses left and right in the
later rounds of the draft. Do you see this trend continuing and is it a
specific strategy by agents to say their player is unsignable to see if
they can get him to drop to a team with extra money? It seems like guys
like Mark Trumbo and that Rozier guy got more money by being
“unsignable” than they would have otherwise.
My understanding is that big league teams have a set amount budgeted
for the entire draft, and they might choose a seemingly “unsignable”
kid in the late rounds. If an early pick doesn’t sign, that money
becomes available — and presto — your low-round pick is suddenly in
CATHERINE from ARVADA,CO asks: MY
SON IS CURRENTLY IN THE PROCESS, HE’S A HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR-WE HAVE
CHOSEN SOSNICK, COBBE AND ARE EXCITED FOR THE PROCESS, CAN’T WAIT FOR
Jerry Crasnick: Catherine,
Thanks for the note. Good luck with the draft (and make sure to tell your friends about the book).
Derrik from New Braunfels, TX asks: How
does a person get into any type of baseball job? Anything from
managing, scouting, or even an agent? I would probably become a
work-aholic if given the opportunity.
My best advice is to go to the baseball winter meetings in December and
check out the minor league job fair. They have a ton of great (albeit
low-paying) jobs to help people get experience. The problem is, a lot
of people want to start in the big leagues, and that’s tough to do.
Gary from Santa Ana, CA asks: A
kid who is possible a lower round pick, or in my case, just the last
couple of weeks generating any interest form por clubs, would it be
beneficial to have an advisor?
My knee-jerk reaction is probably no — I doubt you really need an
adviser. The best agent in the world isn’t going to turn a 20th round
pick into a 5th round pick. But it might help to find a kid who was in
a similar situation and find out how it worked for him. There are an
awful lot of chat boards now where families can share draft experiences
and minimize the pre-draft stress.
Bryan from San Francisco asks: Through your research and followin some of these agents. If you had a son what agent would you pick
It’s hard for me to come out and endorse someone. I think it generally
depends on the circumstances. If you’re a fringe prospect, or a kid who
doesn’t care about the bonus and wants to sign right away, Scott Boras
probably isn’t for you. If you’re an elite kid and don’t mind waiting a
while to sign, you might lean more that way. Matt Sosnick and Paul
Cobbe, the agents I wrote about, like to get their kids signed quickly
and try to cultivate positive relationships with the clubs. It’s worked
pretty well for them so far.
Carl from Boston asks: How
do contract negotiations work? If a team says four dollars and the
agent insists on six dollars, do they just hang up on eachother and
then wait for one of them to callback? it just seems like a giant game
of chicken to me.
That’s generally how it works — although when agents and general
managers are negotiating, I think there’s a lot more screaming involved.
Bobby from Astoria, NY asks: Jerry,
Is the book currently available in bookstores, and if not when is it coming out?
Glad you asked. My understanding is that the book will be in stores
within the next week or so. Amazon and Barnes and Noble say it will be
out in June, but I think it’s already available on those sites (or will
be in the next few days).
Ozzie Fan from Chicago asks: So are the White Sox for real?
I have my doubts that they’re this good — how many one- and two-run
games can a team win? But if the starting pitching holds up, they’ll be
a threat all season.
Phife Dawg from Queens, NY asks: Agents get a bad rap because most people assume they are sleazy. What is the biggest misconception about them?
Many agents are sleazy. But I think the biggest misconception is that
they don’t all wear $2000 Italian suits and drive around in Corvettes.
A lot of these guys work hard to build clienteles, and it’s pretty
heartbreaking for them when players reach the cusp of stardom, then
bolt for bigger agencies. I found the backbiting and internal battles
among agents pretty fascinating.
Well, I guess my hour is up. I just want to thank everybody who sent
e-mails. Sorry I couldn’t get to all of them. I hope people enjoy the
book. Maybe we can do this again soon.