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About those glossy free agent brochures …

Apr 11, 2011, 12:00 PM EDT

Carl Crawford Signs with the Boston Red Sox Getty Images

Scott Boras famously makes up these big crazy notebooks for his free agent clients, talking up their skills, their marketability and all of that. This past winter we heard about how Carl Crawford’s agent, Brian Peters, made up an iPad presentation (along with a free iPad) for teams interesting in his client’s services.  I always wonder why agents think that baseball teams with sophisticated scouting departments and oodles of video on everyone would want such things, but I think we get a good idea of it in Ken Rosenthal’s notes column this morning:

“It was an innovative idea, and we got a chuckle out of it, though it didn’t really do anything to change our evaluation,” Red Sox GM Theo Epstein says … Crawford said he initially saw no need for the video, telling Peters, “the teams know what I do, man.” But he acknowledged that the finished product was “nice to see” …

It’s to impress the clients, right?  To make the player (a) feel like he’s awesome; and (b) feel like the agent is going working his butt off on his behalf.  It’s a client retention device, not a marketing device.

Or am I nuts?

  1. ThatGuy - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:03 PM

    Plus you have to have something for those interns to work on…

  2. mrhojorisin - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:12 PM

    You’re not nuts. If the client can get the same deal without the pitch package, what does he need the agent for? So, the agent makes as much noise as possible and by all accounts looks indispensible.

    • marshmallowsnake - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      I think the agents are there just for the legal side. If contracts were easy, then there would not be a need for the agents.

      • bigxrob - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:25 PM

        I would think agents are more valuable for marketing the athlete for endoresments, commercials and the like. I have no evidence of this, just a thought.

      • gammagammahey - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

        Exactly. Teixiera recently recently dropped Boras because he no longer needed a negotiating/contracts agent and more of an endorsements/charities agent.

  3. dreamkafka - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    You’re very wrong in your analysis, some agents are just more clutch at keeping clients.

    • paperlions - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:19 PM

      Excatly! Scott Boras is scrappy, he brings a veteran presence to the office, and he just knows how to…close a deal.

  4. fquaye149 - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:27 PM

    You’re probably not nuts, but then again, you might be wrong. Of course Theo doesn’t think he was swayed by an iPad presentation, but then again, who thinks they are swayed by advertising? No one thinks Google’s targeted ads are affecting them, but it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. No one thinks that stadium naming rights cause them to switch cell phone providers or pet food suppliers, but the businesses feel like the branding is worth multi-million dollar contracts. I doubt the iPad thing does much, but for a percentage of a percentage of the agent’s take in a contract, it might do SOMETHING, no?

    • scottp9 - Apr 11, 2011 at 12:34 PM

      I’d assume that marketing materials are not just directed at an organization’s baseball sophisticates (if they are at all) but rather at those who might be more susceptible to these sorts of pitches and might or will have an influence on the club’s big-ticket decisions – owners, upper level executives, local media, etc.

      • fquaye149 - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:02 PM

        Also, another impact such a medium might have is that it will make an exec much more likely to actually read the material if for no other reason than out of acute curiosity at how the iPad can present such information. Now, Theo Epstein is probably not going to be swayed by agent-stats, since most GM’s have their own rigorous research compiled by their own parties, but the agents make those stats to be read, and anything that makes those stats more likely to be read is probably something an agent (and his client) will value. Or, you know, something like that.

  5. Detroit Michael - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:03 PM

    I think agents probably do provide substantial value, but you’re right that in this instance it’s just client relations.

    I recommend reading “Licensed to Deal” for those who haven’t done so. Fine book.

  6. amhendrick - Apr 11, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    I don’t know. It looks like Crawford had pretty much the same reaction as Epstein.

  7. proudlycanadian - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    I suspect that Boras prepares similar brochures when he is courting draft eligible prospects. In these cases he would be both selling himself and would also be telling the prospect what he will be saying in order to extract extra bucks from the team that drafts the prospect.

  8. victormilan - Apr 11, 2011 at 2:27 PM

    Why not? After all, an agent actually has to market him or herself to two parties: his client as well as the client’s perspective employers.

    As someone who’s dealt with agents in my own professional life, I can say that evidence that the agent actually gives a damn is reassuring. In the case of high-ticket sports stars, an agent can get pretty rich just sitting on her ass and taking whatever deal a club offers.

    Nor is what GMs say – even if they honestly believe it – necessarily the final word. Funny, even empty little gestures can have profound subconscious effects. Think about military medals, or how avid some smart, successful people are for honorary doctorates.

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