The relationship between a player and their agent is more complicated than most consider. Obviously, both parties typically want to strike the biggest deal possible, but sometimes other factors play a role.
When you take the dollar sign out of the equation, the rest of the factors only concern the player. The agent doesn't have to pick his/her family up and move to a new location when the player he/she represents takes a deal in a city across the country. The agent's children don't have to leave all of their friends behind, sometimes even in the middle of the school year. The agent's spouse doesn't have to find a new job, etc. Those burdens are solely on the player, therefore the decision is ultimately up to the player, even if it means turning down a better deal, thus resulting in the agent making less commission on the contract.
Conflict of Interests
What I just described is an obvious conflict of interest. What happens when one team offers a boatload of money in a deal, but the player would prefer to stay put with the team he's played for his entire career? In theory, the agent should be representing their player with the player's best interests in mind.
However, in practice, we can assume that the agent wants to get paid. I'm sure the agent in my example is pushing for that huge contract in a new city, because it doesn't affect him & its a bigger paycheck.
On the other hand, agents also want to keep great relations with the players they represent, in hopes to attract more clients and be well respected in the industry. If you screw your clients in any industry, chances are you'll have a harder time securing new ones, or keeping the ones you already have. Due to these facts, we don't see too many issues arise with these player/agent relationships.
Freddie Freeman Fired His Agent
We saw what this conflict of interest can look like if handled poorly. According to reports (by Doug Gottlieb), Freddie Freeman's agent, Casey Close, acted in the best interests of his pockets, as opposed to the best interests of Freeman.
Freeman, who'd been an Atlanta Brave his entire career, was in ongoing negotiations to re-sign with the team. Allegedly, Atlanta offered a 5-year, $135M contract to Freeman. Close then gave the Braves a one hour deadline to accept 5-years, $165M instead, adding $30M to the deal. The Braves weren't willing to put that money up, as their final offer was 5-years, $140M. The Braves moved on & traded for All-Star Matt Olson. Freddie Freeman and his management also moved on, signing a 6-year, $162M deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Seems like business as usual, right?
So, What's The Issue?
This past weekend, the Dodgers traveled to Atlanta for a series vs the Braves, Freeman's first time being back in Atlanta wearing his new Dodgers uniform. It's being reported that Freddie Freeman JUST found out about the Braves final offer of 5-years, $140M, while in town for the series. Finding that out to go along with the emotions of returning to his home of 15 years probably felt like a grand slam punch in the mouth.
This would mean that his agent, Casey Close, purposely hid the final offer from Freeman, knowing Freddie would take the deal because he wanted to stay in Atlanta. That deal must not have been lucrative enough for Close, but Freddie may have preferred it as opposed to moving to LA to play for the Dodgers.
As I said before: In theory, the agents are working in favor of the best interests of their clients. However, in practice, this isn't always the case. I'm sure it happens more often than we hear about.
The Agency Fires Back
Freddie Freeman has fired his agent & is now listed as representing himself at present. The agency & Casey Close have also denied these allegations, stating that they'll be pursuing legal actions against the reporter who leaked this information, Doug Gottlieb.
This may be the beginning to an ongoing story. The agency formerly representing Freeman seems to be taking a strong stance against these allegations, as we'd expect, and Freddie Freeman has declined to comment. Who knows who's telling the truth? What we do know for sure, is that Freeman was VERY emotional throughout his return to Atlanta.
The eye test tells us he definitely did not want to leave Atlanta.
Is this a perfect example of a conflict of interests? Will we find out? Either way, this story gives us a deeper understanding of the complicated relationship between a player & an agent.