The MLB Players Association is now requiring agents to consult with the union before they negotiate contracts for arbitration-eligible players . . . The move comes as some veteran agents have complained privately that other agents have agreed to long-term, below-market deals in order to secure client fees for themselves.
Some top agents are worried about a trend of multiyear deals for arbitration-eligible and pre-arbitration players that take them through their arbitration years and, in some cases, through their first few years of free agency. Some of those deals have included multiple club options, in which the club, not the player, decides whether to extend the deal at a prearranged price.
I don't suppose there's any reason why the union can't require agents to consult with it prior to signing an early deal. What the union can actually do about it is another matter. Not much, I guess, as whether the next Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun signs an early extension is ultimately up to the next Evan Longoria or Ryan Braun.
Not that the pros and cons of these deals shouldn't be debated a bit. As I've written before, I'm a bit of a risk averse guy who has a hard time wrapping my mind around the concept of saying no to an employer who wants to give me tens of millions of dollars a couple of weeks or months after I start working. I could get hit by a bus next week! I could suddenly lose my skills! Where do I sign?!
But it is exactly because I and, presumably, a lot of young players think that way that good representation is so important. Instead signing quickly because I'm worrying about getting hit by a bus, maybe I'd be better off signing a big insurance policy to cover the risk. Instead of focusing solely on that $60M my club is offering me now, maybe I need to focus on the $100M I might be worth if I wait a year or two to sign my deal. Man, that stuff is hard to know, and if this new policy provides a means for young players to get some greater insight into where they stand in the grand scheme of things, the better.
Of course, even with this level of insight, a young player is going to have a lot to figure out. Like, is my current agent -- the guy I've known since I was 18 -- trying to secure my future, or his? Or, is that slick, high profile agent honest when he tells me I'll make $50M more going with him and holding out until year-6, or is he just trying to steal me away from the only representation I've ever known? Those are some tough determinations for anyone to make, let alone a kid in his early 20s and, in all likelihood, nothing more than a high school education.
Obviously whether Evan Longoria or whoever leaves tens of millions on the table after making tens of millions is not the sort of problem we should lose a lot of sleep over. But it is an issue all of the young stars we spend so much time obsessing over, well, obsess over, and to that end it's something I think about a lot.
(thanks to Pete Toms for the link)