MDR Sports Management is the only baseball representation firm in Puerto Rico and Latin America representing Hispanic players. Baseball agent Melvin Roman founded the company in 2006 after serving as Vice President of Latin America Baseball for the now defunct CSMG Sports in Chicago, Illinois. At CSMG, Roman assisted in negotiating mega contracts for MLB players like Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson.
When Roman opened MDR Sports Management, he represented only two baseball players as clients; today he has 10 employees and oversees the daily operations of every aspect of MDR’s client business matters, which entails 52 players. Among his A-list players is stellar Puerto Rican catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals. Besides Puerto Rican baseball players, MDR Sports Management represents clients from Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and the Dominican Republic.
His major league clientele include St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Jaime Garcia, New York Yankees pitcher Pedro Feliciano, Milwaukee Brewers catcher Yorvit Torrealba, Arizona Diamondback catcher Wil Nieves, Chicago White Sox pitcher Jose Quintana, Miami Marlins infielder Donovan Solano, Tampa Bay Rays catcher Robinson Chirinos and Boston Red Sox infielder Ivan de Jesus Jr, among others.
I recently chatted with Roman about his experiences as a baseball agent. I found out that Roman also has the benefit of being a former professional baseball player in the San Francisco Giants organization. The following is the transcript of our conversation:
Darren Heitner: When and how did you first realize you wanted to be a baseball agent?
Melvin Roman: My career path began to take shape when I was playing in the minor leagues and saw firsthand how some agents and agencies were taking advantage of non-English speaking players. At the time, some of my teammates and friends were signing representation contracts without really understanding what they were signing. Seeing young Latin players get taken advantage of in that manner really opened my eyes and made me realize that this was an area where players really needed help understanding the business of baseball.
Heitner: How does being a former professional baseball player assist you in your current representation of athletes?
Roman: For me, it has provided a greater understanding of the people I deal with and the situations they are faced with. Most agents look at the value of a player from a statistical standpoint, but the bigger picture goes way beyond just that; having a feel for and an understanding of a player’s value to a particular club or a player’s value in the free agent market, could equal millions in a contract.
Heitner: How are you able to recruit players from so many different countries, including Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia and the Dominican Republic?
Roman: It is twofold really: first, you must have a clear understanding of each market and then building off of client referrals in those markets. Referrals are one of the highest compliments we can be given by our players and we are fortunate to have built a solid portion of our clientele that way. As a company, we have to have a great understanding of our clients’ values as players, but we have to have an even greater understanding of our players’ roots and personal values.
Heitner: What are some of the most important negotiation tactics for negotiating a mega contract on behalf of a superstar baseball player?
Roman: It is important to be prepared and have a complete and accurate understanding of the true value of your client.
Heitner: How does preparation for arbitration differ from preparation for a free agent contract negotiation?
Roman: The key difference is that preparing for arbitration is all about statistics and comparable whereas the main focus of free agency is the basic concept of supply and demand.
Heitner: How has the representation and recruitment of Puerto Rican baseball players changed since you entered the business?
Roman: It is still the same.
Heitner: What are your thoughts on creating an international draft?
Roman: I think implementing an international draft would reduce the growth of international players in the major leagues. I think it would lead to fewer players signing, thus less international players realizing their dream of becoming a major league player.
Heitner: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in becoming a baseball agent?
Roman: Don’t become one! (ha ha ha) I would advise aspiring agents to have a full understanding of the league’s basic agreement in order to understand the business climate and know their clients’ rights.