Trades never get old. Sometimes they’re stressful, sometimes they're exciting, and it always depends on how your client reacts. Last week I had a player traded from the Pirates to the Braves: Bryton Trepagnier. I have a neat story about the trade process, and about how I found Bryton in the first place.
I first scouted Bryton in Port St. Lucie, where I was watching a client I had on the St. Lucie Mets. I came to the game with zero expectations of finding a new client, nor did I have any intention of watching the Pirates’ club. The game ran long and the Mets were losing, and Bryton entered in the ninth to close the game. He's listed at 6-foot-5 but he's at least 6-foot-6, maybe 6-7. All arms and legs. I was stunned that someone with this body type was playing baseball. I immediately Googled him and saw that he was a 41st-round pick but only 22 years old. There isn’t even a 41st round anymore!
He threw 17 strikes and 23 balls and got the save. The arm strength was evident—the first day I saw him he got up to 96 with a very above-average slider. It was one of those eureka moments where things added up in my head. 41st-rounder from L.A., first year in high-A, early in the season: He probably didn’t have an agent! I ran down to the dugout post-game to try to speak to him, but of course he ran to the complete other side. I asked one of his teammates to grab him for me but I guess he was expecting me to ask for his autograph and angrily shrugged me off, walking away and into the clubhouse. I debated whether or not I should wait the hour post-game to try and speak with Bryton, but I had other plans and had to leave so I bit my lip and chalked it up as a missed opportunity.
Fast forward to the FSL All-Star game. I had to get to the team hotel at 7 a.m. for a pre-arranged autograph signing for a client who was playing in the game. I was waiting in the breakfast area with the autograph dealer and he keeps asking me who each player was so that he could get stuff signed. Eventually he points out this giant guy and asked who that was. Much to my shock it was Trepagnier. He hadn’t been on the roster but evidently was a late add the night before. I ran over to him—probably way too overeager—and introduced myself. I told him how much I enjoyed watching him throw earlier in the year and that I really liked him as a player. I asked him for his info and we exchanged numbers. Fortunately, and most shockingly to me, he still did not have an agent even as an all-star. About a week later we were able to meet up in Jupiter, Florida to discuss me possibly becoming his agent.
The meeting went so well it lasted a solid five hours. We really hit it off. The kid has the exact kind of makeup I look for before anything else, and when I told him to talk things over with his family he surprised me again by hiring me on the spot. Over the course of the second half of the year I saw him throw about 10 more times and got to support him in a variety of ways. Knowing it was his 40-man year there was a slight chance he could go in the Rule 5 draft, something that has been kind to me over the years (Cassevah, Kroenke, Monasterios, Browning, Herndon, Nieto). I knew he would need to go to winter ball so he would get scouted by the other 29 clubs. Getting a job in Puerto Rico for a Class-A guy is hard, but baseball is a very small world. There was a club that was banking on an MLB player showing up, but the guy had been denied permission to go play winter ball. That guy was my client, Jeremy Jeffress. I told the club I had the perfect replacement player. Boom, it was done.
Bryton had a difficult winter ball season. However, it opened his eyes to what kind of adjustments he needs to make for the 2015 season and really gave him a leg up on things. Ultimately, he was not selected in the Rule 5 draft, but this was not the end. Last week Bryton was traded to Atlanta and I really believe this will advance his career. All the roadblocks that were in his way in Pittsburgh are gone. Had he never gone to winter ball the Braves never would have seen him throw and this trade likely never would have happened. So as an agent I feel good because this is one of the small ways I got to make a difference in a player’s life.
Bryton was first called by the Pirates and then the Braves about the transaction. Then he called me. We spoke for 20 minutes, both of us very excited about the future, and now we're playing things for the 2015 season. I am setting up interviews and trying to capitalize on endorsements that the trade might open up. More important than all that is that Bryton has a real chance to play in the major leagues in 2015, or at least get added to the 40-man after the year. He should start in Double-A, and the Braves traded for him knowing full well he'd have to be protected after the season.
Trades are unexpected and exciting for agents, and as always finding players is an inexact science for clubs and agents alike. The Pirates found a gem in the 41st round that they turned into an asset. The Braves found a power arm they liked enough to trade for, and as an agent I found another terrific kid who I greatly enjoy working for, a kid I believe has a chance to have a long career. Ultimately it falls on Bryton’s shoulders, but with a trade like this his chances of playing in the big leagues sooner than later has jumped tremendously. As an agent what more can you ask for?
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a possibility of something happening.