Menu

Labor and Agents: Wasserman negotiates more than $500M in MLB deals

Wasserman Baseball negotiated more than half a billion dollars in free-agent and extension deals, including two nine-figure contracts during the strong but bifurcated MLB offseason.

In all, Wasserman MLB agents negotiated $557 million in deals and extensions, including shortstop Javier Baez’s $140 million free-agent deal for the longtime Chicago Cub to join the Detroit Tigers, and starting pitcher José Berrios’ $131 million deal to stay with the Toronto Blue Jays. 

Nick Chanock, Wasserman Baseball executive vice president, negotiated Baez’s six-year deal, which includes a player opt-out after Year 2. He also negotiated the seven-year deal for Berrios, who would have become a free agent after this season, and it includes a player opt-out after five years. 

Chanock negotiated a six-year, $70 million extension for Colorado Rockies third baseman Ryan McMahon, which includes an opt-out for him after the fourth year. 

“All three deals have opt-outs and all three deals have no options,” Chanock said. “That’s pretty hard to do.” All players want opt-outs in their agreements because it gives them the flexibility to test the free-agent market, depending on the market and their circumstances, he said. 

Wasserman’s Nick Chanock (left) with José Berrios and Sammy Zapata, Berrios’ manager. Berrios signed a $131 million deal to stay in Toronto.wasserman

Joel Wolfe, Wasserman Baseball executive vice president, negotiated a five-year, $85 million deal for Japanese outfielder Seiya Suzuki with the Cubs, the largest ever for a Japanese position player. Suzuki, who has a full no-trade clause as part of his deal, was named the National League Player of the Week for April 11-17. Suzuki hit three home runs, five RBIs and two doubles, and was walked five times in his first six games.

Wasserman has been a leader in bringing the best Japanese baseball players to MLB, as former agent Arn Tellem represented Hideki Matsui and Yu Darvish. Both Wolfe and Chanock trained under Tellem, who left Wasserman in 2015 to become vice chair of Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Detroit Pistons.

Chanock also recently negotiated a five-year, $51 million extension for Seattle Mariners shortstop J.P. Crawford. Chanock said the market for baseball players was strong both before the lockout that started on Dec. 12 and after it ended on March 12. 

Wasserman also completed deals for Los Angeles Angels catcher Max Stassi, new Atlanta Braves closer Kenley Jansen, Minnesota Twins closer Alex Colomé, Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo, Pirates pitcher Jose Quintana, and Boston Red Sox pitcher Hansel Robles

“The free agent market was stronger before, but the extension market was really strong after,” Chanock said. 

Asked if it was one of the best years for Wasserman Baseball, Chanock said, “Yeah, it’s one of the best years for anybody.” The deadline of the lockout sped up deals, as did the short time period between the end of the lockout and the delayed April 7 Opening Day, he said.

Craig Goldstein, Baseball Prospectus editor in chief, noted that clubs spent a record $3.1 billion on free-agent deals; the previous high-water mark was $2.4 billion spent in the winter of 2015-16. There were several reasons for the splurge, Goldstein said. “The class itself was exceptionally deep, especially at the top, including multiple players hitting the market in their prime while coming off very good seasons.” 

Additionally, the competitive-balance tax threshold was raised due to the new collective-bargaining agreement and the designated hitter position was added in the National League. “Lastly, there was a group of non-contenders that were looking to make moves and create foundations for their immediate futures that drove a lot of spending in the marketplace,” Goldstein said. 

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

SBJ Morning Buzzcast: August 10, 2022

Endeavor sells minor league teams; Eddy Cue meets with MLS BOG; NFL eyes Black Friday game for '23

SBJ I Factor: Jed York

SBJ I Factor: Jed York, presented by Allied Sports SBJ I Factor presented by Allied Sports features an interview with San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York. York is in his 17th year with the organization and his 12th as CEO. He is a two-time SBJ Forty Under 40 honoree as a member of the classes of 2012 and 2013. York talks with SBJ’s Abe Madkour about what he learned from growing up in the sports business, working in multiple departments at the team, the challenges of building Levi’s Stadium, and how his leadership style has evolved through the years. SBJ I Factor is a monthly podcast offering interviews with sports executives who have been recipients of one of the magazine’s awards, such as Forty Under 40, Game Changers and others.

SBJ Spotlight: Warner Bros. Discovery

CNBC media reporter Alex Sherman joins SBJ’s John Ourand to discuss Warner Bros. Discovery’s streaming strategy. The two talk about the company’s interest in sports rights, with Sherman noting that the company is in a cost-cutting mode, which is one reason why it has not been active in media rights negotiations over the past several months.

Shareable URL copied to clipboard!

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2022/04/25/Insiders/Labor-and-Agents.aspx

Sorry, something went wrong with the copy but here is the link for you.

https://sbjcd02.centralus.cloudapp.azure.com/Journal/Issues/2022/04/25/Insiders/Labor-and-Agents.aspx

CLOSE
;