Sunday, May 19, 2024

Bad Bunny sports agency sues MLB players’ union over ‘death penalty’ ban

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Bad Bunny’s sports representation firm sued the baseball players’ association Thursday, asking for a restraining order against the union that would allow it to keep working with the company’s clients – a roster it says now includes NL MVP Ronald Acuña Jr.

Rimas Sports, under its corporate name Diamond Sports LLC, sued in US district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico, accusing the Major League Baseball Players Association of violating Puerto Rico’s general tort claim and tortious interference with its contracts to represent players.

The suit claimed the union’s actions blocked it from taking on Acuña as a client and negotiating a long-term contract for New York Mets catcher Francisco Alvarez. Rimas announced later Thursday it had signed a representation agreement with Acuña, but the union said the Atlanta star did not have a listed agent.

The union issued a notice of discipline to Rimas agents William Arroyo, Noah Assad and Jonathan Miranda on 10 April and fined them $400,000 for misconduct. Arroyo was an agent certified by the union to represent players and represented Alvarez and teammate Ronny Mauricio. Arroyo was decertified and the other two told they could not apply for certification.

Arbitrator Michael Gottesman denied the agents’ request to block the players’ association, a decision the union asked a federal court in Manhattan to confirm.

Rimas was founded in 2021 with the goal of representing Latin players and said it currently has 68 clients, including 14 major leaguers. Rimas said the union had prevented it from representing players with agents who had not been disciplined.

“For nearly two years, the MLBPA scrutinized the agency in a discriminatory, biased and pre-determined investigation, all designed to put Rimas Sports permanently out of business,” Rimas said in the 27-page complaint. “From late April 2022 through February 2024, the MLBPA worked to eliminate Rimas Sports from the sports agency market, intentionally preventing certified agents from working with Rimas Sports in any capacity.”

The company said the union banned “MLBPA certified agents from working for or associating themselves with Mr Arroyo, Mr Miranda and Mr Assad or any entity owned by or affiliated with Mr Arroyo, Mr Miranda and Mr Assad including, but not limited to, Rimas Sports, Diamond Sports LLC, and Rimas Entertainment LLC.”

It added: “By issuing this Prohibition, the MLBPA took the extraordinary and unprecedented step of essentially placing a death penalty on Rimas Sports and Rimas Entertainment that extends well beyond the scope of the MLBPA’s regulators authority.”

MLB told teams on 28 April that as a result of Rimas’ decertification, clubs should not to speak with Rimas about contracts and should contact players directly, according to a document submitted with the lawsuit.

Rimas said the union told Michael Velazquez, whom the company was considering for employment, that his certification would be suspended if he worked for or associated with Rimas or the banned employees. Velazquez then disassociated with Rimas, the company said.

Rimas claimed the union’s actions were beyond scope of its authority to regulate agents under the National Labor Relations Act and the union’s agent regulations. Rimas asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the union.

The MLBPA declined comment, spokeswoman Silvia Alvarez said.

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