SBJ/May 5-11, 2014/Labor and Agents

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  • Octagon’s golf division signs three players on European Tour

    Octagon, which restarted its golf representation business last month, has signed three young European Tour players: Chris Wood, Matt Baldwin and Marc Warren.

    All three players will be represented by Stuart Cage, who joined Octagon after working as the lead agent for Chubby Chandler’s ISM.

    Wood and Baldwin were formerly represented by ISM. Warren was formerly represented by Champions of Golf.

    A Champions of Golf official did not respond to a request for comment. Chandler, when asked whether he had a comment on the departures, replied in an email, “Not really.”

    Cage was involved in managing both Wood and Baldwin when he worked for Chandler. He said he believed his relationship with the two golfers was the reason for the switches.

    Cage said Warren’s contract with his former agency was up and that Cage was one of several agents who recruited him.
    Wood and Baldwin are from England; Warren is from Scotland. Wood, 26, and Warren, 33, are former European Tour rookies of the year, and Baldwin, 28, put together an impressive rookie season in 2012.

    Cage said he thinks all three could be in the top 50 in the world and play in the United States. “I am extremely happy to have all three, but there will be more to come in the next 12 months,” he said.

    Cage said he joined Octagon because it gave him the opportunity to build something from scratch. Octagon had been out of the golf talent rep business for a few years before hiring Cage and three other agents.

    Cage was Chandler’s lead agent and worked with several top European golfers, including Rory McIlroy, who left ISM in 2011 and now is represented by his own independent management group.

    David Yates, managing director of Octagon Golf, said all three players are good young players who have long careers ahead of them. Octagon is looking to build a global golf talent representation business on “parallel tracks” by signing players in Europe and the United States.

    “We have only been a golf division for a month,” Yates said. “This is a pretty good start.”

    > MIAMI SPORTS SIGNS RAMIREZ, ESCOBAR: Miami Sports Management, a baseball representation firm founded by three attorneys and former MLB shortstop Alex Gonzalez, has signed former MLB slugger Manny Ramirez and Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Yunel Escobar as clients.

    Attorneys Fernando Aran, J.M. Guarch and Alex Esteban, along with Gonzalez, will represent Escobar and Ramirez. Both players were formerly represented by Praver Shapiro Sports Management.

    Esteban said the players approached Miami Sports Management about representation; he does not know why they switched agencies. Praver Shapiro founder Barry Praver declined to comment.

    Miami Sports Management recently negotiated a two-year extension for Escobar with the Rays worth $13 million.
    As for Ramirez, who is 41, and a potential return to MLB, Esteban said, “We are in discussions with several teams.” He refused to predict, though, whether Ramirez may agree to a playing contract. His last at bat with an MLB club was in 2011, with Tampa Bay.

    Aran, 56, and Guarch, 54, are longtime partners in Miami law firm Aran Correa Guarch & Shapiro. They founded the sports agency in 2012 after hiring Esteban, 29, who was representing several baseball players on his own. Gonzalez, 41, who retired from MLB after the 2006 season, is Aran’s cousin and Guarch’s neighbor.

    In addition to Ramirez and Escobar, the firm represents about 15 minor league and overseas baseball players and also is advising several college and high school baseball players on this year’s draft.

    > ANTONIO BROWN LEAVES ROSENHAUS: Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown has left Rosenhaus Sports as a client. He had not re-signed with another agency by midweek last week.

    Brown had been represented by Drew Rosenhaus, who in 2012 negotiated a five-year, $42.5 million deal for Brown that was restructured this March for cap room purposes. Brown is under contract with the Steelers until 2017.

    Liz Mullen can be reached at lmullen@sportsbusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter at @SBJLizMullen.


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  • NBPA: New chief by next season

    The National Basketball Players Association plans to elect an executive director before the start of a new NBA season, NBPA vice president Roger Mason Jr. said last week.

    In addition to looking at new candidates, Mason said the association will review previously eliminated candidates. The plan would be to interview three or four finalists for the top job at its annual meeting in July.

    The executive director position at the union has been vacant since players fired Billy Hunter in February 2013, after an internal union investigation found he had acted against the interests of players. Recently, Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson was brought on to help assist in the search.

    Mason would not discuss the status of two previously reported candidates — Screen Actors Guild Executive Director David White and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom attorney Michele Roberts — who met with NBA players at a union meeting during All-Star Weekend in February. White and Roberts have been identified in media reports as finalists for the post, but it’s not clear where they stand now in the process.

    “We are going to vet possibly some new candidates and candidates who may have slipped through the cracks, but ultimately the best three or four will be put in front of our players,” Mason said, adding that Reilly Partners remains involved in the search process. “We are reviewing every résumé that we have gotten. They have already been re-evaluated. Anybody who felt they were not part of it, their name is going to be resurfaced.”

    Mason said Johnson was brought in after players and some agents, including Excel Sports Management’s Jeff Schwartz, complained about the process. Notably, Schwartz wrote an open letter to the union, published by ESPN on March 13, criticizing the lack of transparency and involvement of players in the search and asked that it start over from scratch.

    Schwartz also sent a letter to the union and several of his clients signed it, Mason said.

    “There were some players who signed it, obviously, so we listened to our players,” Mason said.

    He said other players and agents expressed similar sentiments to the NBPA, and that the union welcomes the input.


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