Baseball agent Matt Sosnick speaks strongly of loyalty, honesty and trust in his industry.
His agency, Sosnick Cobbe Sports, was grown from scratch in the hills above the San Francisco Bay and relies on building relationships, sticking with clients regardless of on-field performance and adheres to principles such as automatically dropping players who engage in detrimental activity like domestic violence. He discusses his clients as friends rather than means to a paycheck. Character above all.
It probably should come as no surprise then that he holds the Minnesota Twins operations in high regard for similar reasons. When asked the agent’s perception of the organization, Sosnick raved.
“First of all, I love the Twins,” he admitted. “I obviously have had lots of players who have run through there the past few years. I have [Josh] Willingham and [Ryan] Doumit. I have a very close relationship with both [assistant GM] Rob Antony and [vice president of player development] Mike Radcliff and there’s no GM that I respect more than Terry Ryan.”
That may seem like an odd response from a person whose livelihood is tied to how much a team is willing pay for one of his clients and, so far, the Twins have not been exactly a blank check. In fact, Willingham’s 2012 contract has been the richest free agent contract the team has distributed to date.
What is interesting is that had Willingham’s home was further west, he may never have been a Twin to begin with. When fans wonder why their team didn’t sign a particular free agent, there are factors that go beyond just the dollars and cents. As a free agent after the 2011 season, Sosnick fielded an offer from a West Coast team that was superior to that of the Twins. But Willingham, who calls Alabama home, opted to sign with Minnesota because it was in closer proximity to his family and turning down more money in the process.
Willingham’s reign as the team’s highest compensated free agent may come to an end this winter and one of Sosnick’s other clients could be the one to dethrone him. Among the Sosnick Cobbe client list are Josh Johnson, Ricky Nolasco and Randy Messenger -- three pitchers whom the Twins have had varying degrees of interest.
Under different circumstances, Johnson could have been the headliner of the offseason. At just 30 years old, Johnson has battled both shoulder inflammation (2011) and elbow issues (2013) that has curbed his innings over the past three seasons. More importantly, it has curbed teams’ appetite for doling out a large contract.
“He’s probably got the highest upside of any free agent pitcher,” says Sosnick, “but when you factor in the amount of games he started the last few years and the amount of different injuries he’s had you realize, in our case, our choice was to take a shot at a two or three-year deal or take a shot a one-year where we rebuild his value. There’s no question that we are going to go after a one-year and try to rebuild his value because he’s going to be treated as an injury liability -- even though I think he’s totally healthy right now -- but I understand that mindset.”
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