As the hot stove continues to run ice cold, let’s take a few minutes and look at the fun, weird world of agent politics. A little less than two weeks ago, Rockies All-Star center fielder Charlie Blackmon agreed to a one-year deal worth $14 million to avoid arbitration. That deal almost doubles what the reigning NL batting champ made in 2017 and constitutes the third highest raise in arbitration history among position players, trailing only Bryce Harper ‘s raise for 2016 and Chris Davis‘ for 2013. All in all it seemed like a pretty nice haul for him. Good player gets a big raise in his last arbitration year. A tale as old as time, right? Not to everyone. This past Friday, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports wrote a strange article attacking the deal. Why was it strange? It was strange because, rather than it being a one-off comment in a notes column or something, it was an article dedicated specifically to attacking it, headlined “Did Charlie Blackmon get a bad deal?”; It was strange because, rather than focus primarily on Blackmon’s production or his and the Rockies’ respective positions, it focused on Blackmon’s agents, the ACES Agency, and made a comment about how Blackmon’s very choice to switch to ACES “shook the industry” (More on that below); It was strange because it cited an anonymous “arbitration expert” to say that his deal was light but did not make a case why Blackmon deserved more. At the very most it cited some pretty different and exceptional players like Bryce Harper and Josh Donaldson as comps in an attempt to make that case. I love me some Charlie Blackmon, but c’mon, he’s not otherworldly like Harper or Donaldson and his specific contractual situation is not similar to theirs at all. I’ve been doing this for over a decade and I can’t recall an article quite like this one. So what gives? Having read it several times now, I cannot escape the conclusion that it’s less about baseball and Charlie Blackmon than it is about agents fighting with one another behind the scenes, with Jon Heyman serving as one of the fighting agents’ mouthpieces. It may seem weird for agents to fight with each other through the press over someone like Charlie Blackmon, but there’s a heck of a lot more going on these days in the land of agents than just Charlie Blackmon. In case you haven’t noticed, it’s a bad market out there. Players aren’t getting signed and they’re getting antsy. They call their agents in distress and, one can imagine, with no small amount of anger. “Why don’t I have a job yet, man?!” Maybe they’re even threatening to fire their agent and find someone new. That happens all the time anyway, but it has to be happening even more now, and that’s some serious pressure.
Charlie Blackmon and a look inside the backstabbing world of sports agents
Hardball Talk | Jan 24