Sports Law

Bad Bunny’s Baseball Agency Sues The MLBPA

On May 16, 2024, Diamond Sports, LLC, doing business as Rimas Sports, initiated a federal lawsuit against the Major League Baseball Players Association in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico. A Verified Complaint and Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (TRO)/Preliminary Injunction were filed. One day later, the Court denied the request for TRO and set a hearing on the request for preliminary injunction for June 18, 2024.

The Complaint begins with the feel of it serving as a press release to boast about the agency co-created by Benito Martinez-Ocasio (a/k/a Bad Bunny) with the stated goal of building a sports agency that caters to the Latin American community and highlights some of the impressive players it has signed in three years of existence, including Francisco Alvarez, Ronny Mauricio, Wilmer Flores, and Eddie Rosario.

Then, at the bottom of Page 2 of the Complaint, Rimas Sports goes to bat against the MLBPA. It says, “[f]rom late April 2022 through February 2024, the MLBPA worked to eliminate Rimas Sports from the sports agency market, intentionally preventing certified agents from working with Rimas Sports in any capacity. Then, on April 10, 2024, the MLBPA issued a Notice of Discipline to Rimas Sports’ agents, William Arroyo (“Mr. Arroyo”), Mr. [Noah] Assad, and Mr. Miranda decertifying Mr. Arroyo, while also preventing Mr. Assad and Mr. [Jonathan] Miranda from even applying to become certified MLBPA agents, and categorically prohibiting all ‘MLBPA Certified Agents from working for or associating themselves with Mr. Arroyo, Mr. Miranda, and Mr. Assad or any entity owned by or affiliated
with Mr. Arroyo, Mr. Miranda, and Mr. Assad including, but not limited to, Rimas Sports, Diamond Sports LLC, and Rimas Entertainment LLC[.]'”

Rimas Sports refers to the above as a “death-penalty sanction.”

It has been previously reported that the MLBPA took punitive action against Rimas Sports and its agents based on alleged improper benefits being provided to players. Jeff Passan and Jorge Castillo of ESPN reported that “[w]ithin one week of Rimas’ official launch in mid-April 2023, the MLBPA received evidence the company had offered players cash and gifts to switch agencies, according to sources.” The punishment included a $400,000 fine. The decision was appealed and an arbitrator appointed by the MLBPA rejected same.

Rimas Sports has sought declaratory relief in the form of a ruling that the MLBPA has exceeded the scope of its statutory authority under the National Labor Relations Act, specifically with respect to the MLBPA seeking to prevent Rimas Entertainment from working with clients who want to enter into deals with brands, which would be outside the scope of negotiating MLB team contracts. The company has also brought claims for tortious interference with contract and tortious injury to its business interests while also seeking injunctive relief.

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.