Group Created with Sketch.
Volume 21 No. 31
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.
  • Created with Sketch.

Baseball agent Close leaving CAA

Hollywood agencies have tried to enter the sports business over the past two decades, usually by having entertainment agents sign star athletes for entertainment work. Creative Artists Agency in 2006 took a different tack, hiring a powerful NFL agent and a leading MLB agent, each of whom had years of experience in athlete representation.

Last week, news broke that baseball agent Casey Close was leaving CAA Sports when his five-year deal is up next month.

Close is best known as the longtime representative of New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

Close did not return repeated phone calls, and CAA did not comment.

Close’s departure was somewhat expected. Hired originally to run the CAA Sports baseball division, he worked out of the New York office of Century City, Calif.-based CAA. After hiring Close, CAA beefed up the baseball practice by hiring several younger agents.

But for at least a year now, Close has not been running the practice. As reported last year, CAA quietly shifted the management of the division from Close to Nez Balelo, Brodie Van Wagenen, Jeff Berry, Joe Urbon and Greg Landry.

Casey Close’s client list includes Derek Jeter (left) and Ryan Howard.
Despite the apparent split within the baseball division, CAA had a very successful offseason in 2010, negotiating more than $400 million in new, guaranteed MLB contracts.

While the speculation that Close would leave has been going on for at least a year, in recent months there was also talk that CAA had been in discussions to extend his contract. Sources said those talks fell through, though, and Close has left.

It was not clear last week what Close will do. He could go out on his own and open his own shop, or he could merge with another firm.

Sources said CAA likely will have a continuing relationship with Close’s marquee clients, Jeter and Howard, especially since Jeter is not expected to sign another player contract and his next big deal may involve off-the-field work. Close is an MLB player contract agent.

Meanwhile, sources said Close’s departure is not expected to have any effect on whether Tom Condon, agent to a number of marquee NFL quarterbacks, including Drew Brees and brothers Peyton and Eli Manning, will end up staying at CAA when his deal is up next April.

Close and Condon both worked at IMG for years before joining CAA in April 2006. While Close signed a five-year deal, Condon, sources said, signed a six-year employment contract.