MLB Players Sports Agents

Insight Into Being A Baseball Agent

Dynasty Baseball Agent, Bryan Swalley, recently received an email from a graduate student at LSU asking Swalley for help on a school project he was working on regarding sports agentry (specifically, baseball).  I believe that the Q&A is valuable for readers and thus decided to post them below.

Q: What types of services do you provide to minor league players?

Swalley: We offer players a variety of services including (but not limited to) contract negotiation, equipment they need, and financial planning.  Our biggest service for minor league players, in my opinion, is marketing.  There are not a whole lot of agencies that market their minor league players like we do, and I feel that is what sets Dynasty apart from the rest of the field.

Q: What differences arise when a player reaches the majors?

Swalley: When a player reaches the Majors, the player must contact the MLBPA and let them know who his agent is.  If that agent is not MLBPA Certified, then he/she must do so.  However, an agent cannot become MLBPA Certified until a client reaches the Majors.  Also, once a player is placed on a 40 man roster, there are still MLBPA regulations in regards to commissions that agents an agencies must abide by.  A player cannot make below the MLB minimum at all.  Even if a player is signed at the minimum, then the agency or agent cannot charge a commission.

Q: Take me through a typical first year with a client.

Swalley: First year Minor League contracts cannot be negotiated.  Therefore, we focus on three things…marketing, marketing, and marketing.  We try to get the player well known throughout the organization as well as the town where they’re assigned or from.

Q: Are subsequent years any different?

Swalley: Although contracts can now be negotiated, they typically aren’t until a player is very close to making the Majors.  Therefore, we fall back to the three things we focused on in the first year, marketing, marketing, and more marketing. (Editor’s note: We had a big role in negotiating Leatherman’s most recent deal, so Swalley’s statement is not 100% accurate).

Q: What is the most difficult part of being an agent?

Swalley: Getting into the industry and building a reputation with future clients.  The route I took to becoming an agent was the non-traditional route.  Most agents enter the industry via internships and so forth.  I was a former Minor League player and scout, so coupled with a wealth of contract negotiation and marketing experience I gained in my after-baseball-life, it made me an ideal candidate to become an agent.  Also, you have to throw in that my area is virtually an un-tapped market for agents, that always helps.

Q: What is the most enjoyable?

Swalley: Working with great people, great clients, and still being a part of the game of baseball.  The folks at Dynasty are all great and very helpful to one another.  My clients are great guys as well.  It’s almost an everyday occurance that I have a conversation with a client that doesn’t directly involve business.  Baseball has been a very big part of my life and I truly love the game.  It’s great to still have that in my life after my playing days are over.

Q: How similar/different are different teams?

Swalley: For the most part, in terms of contracts, they’re similar.  However, some teams differ in that they may actually pay for their players a place to live, which is a huge help to a player on a very limited income.  Another difference lies within the organization’s Front Office.  Some organizations have a “win now” attitude at the MLB level, while others put a lot of money into developing their Minor League system.

Q: What type of compensation do you receive typically?

Swalley: Industry standard commissions are 5% on contracts and 15-25% on marketing contracts.  However, we can only collect on marketing contracts and signing bonuses while the player is in the Minor Leagues.

Q: Could you send me a sample of a standard representation agreement?

Swalley: Sorry, but the agreements are confidential.

By Darren Heitner

Darren Heitner created Sports Agent Blog as a New Year's Resolution on December 31, 2005. Originally titled, "I Want To Be A Sports Agent," the website was founded with the intention of causing Heitner to learn more about the profession that he wanted to join, meet reputable individuals in the space and force himself to stay on top of the latest news and trends.

Heitner now runs Heitner Legal, P.L.L.C., which is a law firm with many practice areas, including sports law and contract law. Heitner has represented numerous athletes and sports agents as legal counsel. He has also served as an Adjunct Professor at Indiana University Bloomington from 2011-2014, where he created and taught a course titled, Sport Agency Management, which included subjects ranging from NCAA regulations to athlete agent certification and the rules governing the profession. Heitner serves as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where he teaches a Sports Law class that includes case law surrounding athlete agents and the NCAA rules.

One reply on “Insight Into Being A Baseball Agent”

How come Swalley says “we can only collect on marketing contracts and signing bonuses while the player is in the Minor League?” Wouldn’t such contracts or bonuses be more lucrative once the player makes it to the Major League?

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