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Volume 21 No. 1
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In big free agent signing, pushing money to deal’s end was key

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os Angeles Angels of Anaheim general manager Billy Eppler and Larry Reynolds, agent for outfielder Justin Upton, worked out a restructured contract that gives Upton less money up front but an extra year and $17.5 million more over the life of the deal.

The Angels acquired Upton in August in a trade from the Detroit Tigers. He had until three days after the World Series to decide whether to opt out of his contract.

Instead of doing that and becoming a free agent, Reynolds agreed to a new deal that will allow Eppler and the Angels room to sign more players by moving some of the money Upton was going to get to the back years of the contract.

The new $106 million, five-year restructured deal was the most significant contract signed early in the MLB free agent market. The old agreement had four years left on it and would have paid him $88.5 million over four years.

“We saved $10 million over the first two years by pushing the money back over the back years of the contract,” Eppler said.

Under the new deal, Upton will receive $16 million in 2018, $18 million in 2019, $21 million in 2020 and $23 million in 2021. He will get $28 million in 2022, the year he turns 35.

While the overall dollars in the contract increased, the average per year went down slightly, from $22.125 million to $21.2 million.

Upton was named an All-Star this year for the fourth time and won the Silver Slugger award last month for the third time, soon after he re-signed with the Angels. Eppler sees him as an important part of the lineup in what he hopes will be a World Series-contending team next year.

“Justin’s willingness to do this shows his desire to win and play for a contending team,” he said.

Reynolds said Upton likes the Angels and was persuaded by Eppler’s plan to put together a champion team.

“It’s been an unpredictable market for hitters, power hitters, and Justin didn’t see the need to change,” Reynolds added.

Reynolds and his agency, Reynolds Sports Management, has represented Upton and his older brother Melvin Upton Jr., formerly B.J. Upton, their entire careers. Melvin Upton was drafted No. 2 overall in the 2002 draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, and Justin Upton was picked No. 1 overall by the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2005. “They are the highest-drafted siblings in the history of the game,” Reynolds said.

Melvin Upton is a free agent this year, after playing in the San Francisco Giants organization.

Other free agents that Reynolds Sports Management is representing in this MLB free agency are relief pitcher Juan Nicasio, who last played for the St. Louis Cardinals, and second baseman/outfielder Howie Kendrick, who last played for the Washington Nationals.

> ISE SIGNS MLB PLAYERS: Independent Sports & Entertainment has signed several new baseball clients, including Philadelphia Phillies catcher Jorge Alfaro and New York Mets pitcher Rafael Montero.

ISE agent Giovanni Rodriguez is representing the players. Rodriguez, who joined ISE four years ago, also signed Luis Urias, an infielder in the San Diego Padres organization, Arizona Diamondbacks infielder prospect Domingo Leyba and Detroit Tigers shortstop prospect Isaac Paredes.

Alfaro and Paredes were formerly represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council. Montero was represented by TLA Worldwide. Leyba was represented by Sports Management Partners. Urias was represented by Jackson Management Group.

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