A Young Agent’s Attempt To “Make It”
A good buddy of mine/CEO of Chaney Sports Group, Chris Chaney, passed along this interview with his friend, Matthew Seminara. Matthew is the CEO of Seminara Sports, which looks to be a full-service baseball agency with an office in New York City. Seminara Sports seems to have a nice stable of Minor League clients after only a little over a year of existence and boats a beautiful website that I am sure will attract others in the future. Here are some of the Q&A’s I grabbed from the interview:
FCP: Do the clubs try to take advantage of minor league players that are not high draft picks? Do the player and the agent have any leverage over the club if they are not a “sure thing”?
MS: I don’t think clubs try to take advantage of minor league players that are not high draft picks in as much as some of the opportunities for lower round picks are not as abundant as, say, a first or second-round draft pick. This past year we had a player that wanted to play winter ball in Hawaii. He was told by his organization that at this stage in his career winter ball wasn’t an option for him although it was an option for their first-round draft pick. Our player had a far superior batting average, slugged more home runs and did so in far less at bats than the other player. The fact of the matter is that the organization just invested upwards of $1 million in its first-round pick so he will be given every opportunity to succeed. However, all organizations understand that a time will come when draft status wares off and a team must pay particular attention to a player’s performance in the minors irrespective of his draft position. While it may certainly take more time for a middle-of-the-draft player to get his fair chance, if he continues to shine his day will certainly come.
FCP: Do minor league players have perks in their contracts like many Major Leaguers do (i.e. MVP or innings bonus)?
MS: What we are seeing today is that players drafted in the first round of the Amateur Draft are beginning to receive guaranteed contracts by being placed on their respective team’s 40-man roster. Typically when a player is drafted he will receive a bonus, the sum of which is likely based on the round in which he was drafted (i.e. the “slot”) and a standard salary scale based on years of service and playing level. A standard minor league contract is six years and terminable at will meaning the team is entitled to release the player at any point in time. The typical salary at the A level is $1,200 per month. Thus, the perks and bonuses are few and far between. An athlete must work his way through the ranks of the minor league system to the big leagues. And, after three years at the major league level (or two years in special circumstances), a player becomes eligible arbitration. Clearly, the carrot is free-agency.
FCP: What are the pros and cons of representing minor league players? Do you have any desire to represent big league players? Does “client stealing/poaching” concern you if/when the young players you represent make it to the big leagues?
MS: We wholeheartedly believe in our philosophy and our ability to obtain results. If an athlete would want to leave us for another agency that is his choice. However, I don’t care who he is leaving us for, he is not going to get a better attorney and advocate in the athlete representation business today. I tell our athletes all the time that as they advance in their careers they will be receiving more and more calls from various agencies and agents that will be offering them the world. I tell our athletes to ask that particular agent:
- Where were you when I wasn’t the next “sure thing” prospect?
- Where were you when I was struggling with my command or had a subpar year and hit .260?
- Where were you when I couldn’t get my dream deal with Nike?
When one is at the advanced levels of Major League Baseball and can command a high salary, it’s a pretty safe bet that many in the industry can negotiate a C.C. Sabathia or Mark Teixeira type free-agent contract. The importance is having someone that can help an athlete from day one, who has proved his worth to the athlete over the long haul and has stood by his word throughout the relationship. Certainly, the agent-principal relationship should not be culminated solely on a hollow percentage of an athlete’s salary negotiated during free agency.