Professional Baseball Player
Background: For a variety of reasons, a player often decides to leave his agent and sign with a new one. When this happens one of the many issues that arises is what, if anything, does the player owe the former agent in terms of fees. In recent years, agents increasingly included clauses in their representation agreements with players that provided that the agent would be entitled to his full fee on any player contract negotiated after the player fired the agent, so long as the contract was negotiated “during the term” of the now-terminated representation agreement. Under this provision, the former agent would be entitled to a fee even if the player’s contract was negotiated entirely by the player’s new agent.
In a case filed by one of baseball’s most prominent agents against an equally prominent All-Star player, JFA represented the player and successfully argued that the MLBPA’s Agent Regulations precluded the agent from enforcing such a clause. JFA argued that once the player terminates the agent, the agent’s authority to represent the player is terminated, as is the agent’s underlying contractual authority. This means, JFA asserted, that the agent’s representation agreement is no longer in effect and the clause is unenforceable. JFA also argued the clause violated the Agent Regulations by providing for a specified remedy (the full fee for the agent) for breach or termination of the representation agreement.
The Arbitrator agreed on both points and denied the agent’s grievance in its entirety. One of the major results of this important decision is that players who leave their agents no longer face the prospect of paying two fees – one to the new agent who solely negotiated the contract, and one to the former agent on the basis of the now-outlawed clause. In the past, the mere possibility of such a scenario often interfered with the player’s free choice of agent. Now, that is no longer the case.