The on-then-off deal between the
Atlanta Braves and Rafael Furcal
through the Wasserman Media Group
has created a rift between the club
and agency as Braves president John
Schuerholz calls the dealings " disgusting
and unprofessional" while Arn Tellem
issues a statement saying Wasserman
is within their right.
Yesterday, John Schuerholz, the former GM and current president of the Atlanta Braves, ripped publicly into the Wasserman Media Group, after Rafael Furcal decided to stay on with the Dodgers, after it is believed that the Braves had a verbal agreement with Furcal, and his agent, Paul Kinzer, who is part of the Wasserman.
“Having been in this business for 40-some years, I’ve never seen anybody treated like that,” Schuerholz said. “The Atlanta Braves will no longer do business with that company — ever. I told [agent] Arn Tellem that we can’t trust them to be honest and forthright. I told him that in all my years, I’ve never seen any [agency] act in such a despicable manner.
“It was disgusting and unprofessional. We’re a proud organization, and we won’t allow ourselves to be treated that way. I advised Arn Tellem that whatever players he represents, just scratch us off the list. Take the name of the Atlanta Braves off their speed dial. They can deal with the other 29 clubs, and we’ll deal with the other hundred agents.”
The lead agent for Wasserman, Arn Tellem, issued the following statement regarding the deal:
With regard to the negotiations between the Atlanta Braves and Rafael Furcal, the essential facts are clear and cannot be disputed.
1. There was never an agreement reached between Rafael Furcal and the Atlanta Braves.
2. In fact, the Braves were fully aware that Furcal was not prepared to make a decision but had requested an opportunity to sleep on it, before deciding.
3. Moreover, the Baseball rules which all agents and teams operate under are clear that no deal exists between a player and a team unless and until: (i) there is a signed and executed player agreement or; (ii) the Player’s Union and the Commissioner’s office have otherwise confirmed the deal. Neither occurred here.
4. Furcal ultimately decided to accept the Dodgers’ offer, taking into consideration a number of factors the most important of which was his desire to continue playing short-stop and not make the position change to second base that the Braves were requiring.
5. Losing out on an all-star player like Furcal is always disappointing, and we understand the Braves’ frustration with the outcome of this negotiation, but it does not change in any way the fact that we conducted ourselves with integrity and complied with all rules of major league baseball throughout this process.
6. Our primary obligation is to serve our clients best interests, and we will continue to do so in accordance with all relevant rules governing MLB negotiations and the utmost integrity.
7. If it serves our clients we will continue to present opportunities to the Braves, which in accordance with the rules governing Major League Baseball, the Braves must entertain. We hope that once emotions have subsided, the Braves will act in a manner consistent with not only their obligations under the Collective Bargaining Agreement and The National Labor Relations Act, but also the best interests of the franchise. In short, we would not want this incident to color their better judgment.
While Tellem says that he will continue to approach the Braves, the public manner in which Schuerholz has voiced his displeasure shows that breaking one of baseball’s unwritten rules – a verbal agreement/handshake is your word – means it can have serious consequences. Time will tell if the Braves and Wasserman ever do business together again.
Maury Brown is the Founder and President of the Business of Sports Network, which includes The Biz of Baseball, The Biz of Football, The Biz of Basketball and The Biz of Hockey. He is contributor to Baseball Prospectus, and is available as a freelance writer. Brown's full bio is here. He looks forward to your comments via email and can be contacted through the Business of Sports Network.
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