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'Like a paid therapist': Baseball agents' role broadens during time of uncertainty

Maria Torres, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Baseball

LOS ANGELES -- Sixty-seven pages of safety protocols sat on a desk in Andy Mota's South Florida home a week ago. The document, crafted by Major League Baseball to explain in extreme detail how the league can avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus during a potential abbreviated season, required careful reading.

Yet Mota couldn't help letting his mind wander, thinking about players in distress. In addition to his major league clientele, he manages 25 minor leaguers, a group coming to grips with the likelihood its 2020 season will not be staged.

One of his clients, a 20-year-old who signed as an international free agent for more than $600,000 about three years ago, recently concluded he would need to sell the home he purchased for his mother in the Dominican Republic. The weekly $400 check MLB has sent to minor league players since April 8 will cease May 31. He has not been paid regular wages since last season ended in early September. If he doesn't play this summer, he will not receive a salary again until next April.

The player, who Mota declined to identify out of respect for the delicate nature of the situation, told his agent, "I don't even know how I'm going to eat."

"It's heartbreaking to have to tell the minor league players they might not play in 2020," said Mota, a senior vice president of baseball at Wasserman Media Group and the son of former Dodgers player and coach Manny Mota. "Imagine a Dominican kid. This is his job, to play for five months and make $1,500 a month (in season). That's his income for the year."

Three months ago, Mota and other agents were prepping their major league clients for arbitration hearings. They were traveling from Florida to Arizona, bouncing around spring training sites, to spend time with minor and major leaguers about to embark on a new season.

 

Now?

"I'm kind of like a paid therapist," said Ryan Hamill, a player representative for Creative Artists Agency.

Hamill has spent his 15 years as an agent talking players off all sorts of emotional ledges. So have his counterparts at other firms.

The coronavirus pandemic complicated that duty. It spawned a set of concerns that encompasses more than a player's career arc.

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