12/05/08 9:00 AM EST
Other agents will play ball at Meetings
Genske, Kinzer, Meister among those who have star-power clients
By Ken Gurnick / MLB.com
Contrary to free-agent legend, there is more to baseball representation than Scott Boras Corp.
An argument can be made that the upcoming Winter Meetings actually will introduce fans to Greg Genske. He's just not as media accessible as Boras. He likes to fly under the radar and his rhetoric is dialed way down.
But he represents Sabathia, who already has received a reported six-year, $140-million offer that could rival Boras client Mark Teixeira for the biggest one tendered this offseason. Sabathia has seemingly logjammed the pitching market. Once he signs, the dominoes of Derek Lowe, Burnett, Ben Sheets, etc., are likely to follow.
The fact that Sabathia received the Yankees' offer three weeks ago and still hasn't accepted is a peek at the inner workings of agenting. Maybe he doesn't want to be a Yankee or play on the East Coast. Maybe it's a decision to be made jointly with his family. Problem is, no other club has come close to that Yankees offer, creating the possibility of Sabathia accepting a lesser one.
How is that a problem? For one thing, the Players Association hasn't become the force that it is by forging salary increases to encourage members to settle for less. Agents are certified by the union and the pressure to push the salary bar ever higher is coordinated.
Another problem is agent fees. They range from three to five percent of the player's compensation and when the player gets less, the agent gets less. In the early days of free agency, representation was generally a sidelight for a lawyer with a ballplayer for a friend. Now it's big business, with most of the medium-sized agencies rolled into behemoths through consolidation earlier in the decade.
And the agency buyouts came at boom-time prices based on projected revenues that didn't allow for a worldwide financial collapse or a player like Sabathia accepting a below-market contract that could impact every deal that follows. Additionally, below-market contracts are hard for an agent to spin when he's trying to recruit new clients, which is what occupies the bulk of a successful agent's workload.
Genske's agency, Newport Beach-based L S Legacy Sports, started out as a partnership between Leigh Steinberg and Jeff Moorad. They split, with Steinberg taking the football clients and Moorad the baseball clients. Moorad Sports Management then was sold to the Loring Ward division of Assante Wealth Management, and three years ago Genske headed a management buyout as Moorad jumped sides to run the Arizona Diamondbacks.
How did Genske become an agent? As an attorney, he helped win a $44.6 million judgment for Steinberg and Moorad against former partner David Dunn for unfair competition and breach of contract. Genske is CEO of the agency that also includes agents Brian Peters and Scott Parker.
Among the free-agent clients of Genske's agency this winter alone, besides Sabathia, are Hudson, Penny, Pat Burrell and Adam Dunn.
If you think it's hard to tell the ballplayers without a scorecard because of turnover, it's just as confusing among agents. Atlanta-based Paul Kinzer represents a top shortstop in Furcal and a top closer in Rodriguez. Los Angeles-based Arn Tellem represents a large stable that includes current free agents Nomar Garciaparra and Randy Wolf. But both agents are part of Wasserman Media Group, an integrated sports management, marketing and content operation.
WMG is run by Casey Wasserman, grandson of the late Hollywood mogul, Lew Wasserman. Casey Wasserman in 2006 purchased SFX Entertainment, which had earlier purchased Tellem's agency, and the agency run by longtime agents Tom Reich and Adam Katz.
Edgar Renteria, who signed with the Giants, is represented by Barry Meister, who also partners with Alan Nero in the representation of Randy Johnson. Burnett, one of the hot pitchers going into the Winter Meetings, is represented by former Minor League pitcher Darek Braunecker.
Safe to say that Boras won't be the only agent holding court with the media next week.
Ken Gurnick is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.