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When news broke that Albert Pujols’ agent had left baseball player rep shop Beverly Hills Sports Council, the industry was abuzz with talk about where he might be going.
Sources say Dan Lozano left the agency, where he worked for 22 years with partners Jeff Borris, Dan Horwits and Rick Thurman, with a plan to start his own shop.
In addition to three-time National League MVP Pujols, who baseball sources say could command $30 million a year when he is a free agent after next season, Lozano represents Jimmy Rollins, Michael Young, Joey Votto, Dallas Braden, J.C. Romero and Orlando Cabrera, among others.
Before Lozano left, Beverly Hills had about 70 MLB players. Among those represented by the other partners are Tim Lincecum, Dan Uggla, Brian Wilson and Kurt Suzuki.
Several of Lozano’s current as well as former MLB clients made public statements supportive of him in a press release he issued last week. “I have the best agent in sports and a guy that I trust with my life … What more can you ask for?” Pujols said in the statement.
Lozano said in the statement, “After 22 years at the Sports Council I realized it was time for a change. With the talented core group we have in place, I will continue to represent all of my clients within an agency that reflects my vision and philosophy.”
What was not entirely clear: Within what agency? Numerous industry sources said that Lozano — nicknamed Lozo in baseball circles — would start his own shop, but at least one source said he has been fielding calls from other big agencies since he left. Speculation has centered on CAA Sports and Blue Entertainment Sports Television, which was recently acquired by French conglomerate Lagardère, as potential landing places for Lozano and his clients.
But others question whether Lozano would want to work for a mega-agency or whether he had the temperament to do so. “There is no ‘Lozo’ in ‘CAA,’” one baseball source joked.
Also, there is a question as to whether he would want to split fees on Pujols’ next deal, which could be one of the biggest contracts ever in sports.
Despite the statements from both sides, it is not clear that the split will be worked out amicably. Unlike many agents who have left agencies, Lozano was a 25 percent owner at Beverly Hills. In the past, the MLB Players Association has become involved when agents leave an agency and take clients. The MLBPA declined to comment for this story.
CAA FIRES AGENT WHO LEFT IMG: CAA Sports has terminated coaches agent Matthew Baldwin, who left IMG to work at CAA and is at the center of a legal battle being fought in Los Angeles and Cleveland.
Baldwin filed suit in Los Angeles federal court asking that the nonsolicitation clause in his IMG employment deal be declared invalid. IMG is suing Baldwin in Cleveland, alleging breach of contract and misappropriation of trade secrets, among other things. Although Baldwin is not a big-name agent, the case is being watched closely in the industry because it could decide whether agents can leave big firms and take clients.
Late last month, U.S. District Judge George Wu issued a temporary decision on IMG’s motion to dismiss the action in California, where employment law favors Baldwin, saying he was “inclined to deny” IMG’s motion to dismiss, but would entertain a motion to transfer the case to Ohio. Wu, however, has scheduled further hearings in late June to hear the issue, after IMG filed papers saying that Baldwin had been fired by CAA and no longer had a job in California. “CAA made its own independent determination to terminate Plaintiff due to his copying, and subsequent deletion, of IMG files,” the declaration states.
Baldwin’s lawyer said in court that no trade secrets were involved and that Baldwin was interviewing for jobs in California.
IMG SIGNS BUTLER COACH: IMG has signed Brad Stevens, coach of surprise Final Four team Butler, for representation in all areas. A team led by Sandy Montag, managing director of clients, will represent him. IMG also signed ESPN reporter Wendi Nix. Ben Stauber will lead her representation.
Liz Mullen can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @SBJLizMullen.