This is surprising, likely unprecedented and truly pathetic. Baseball America’s Aaron Fitt reports that the Phillies turned in their fifth-round draft pick from 2013, Ben Wetzler, to the NCAA for negotiating with the team through an agent. Fitt surmises that the Phillies did so due to sour grapes over Wetzler deciding not to sign and instead returning to Oregon State for his senior year.
Fitt calls the Phillies’ informing on Wetzler a “significant departure from industry norm.” Indeed, draftees routinely use agents to negotiate such deals — or even hire agents as “advisors” before being drafted — and teams never tell the NCAA about it. Mostly because everyone except the NCAA knows that the no-agent rule is idiotic and harmful to these kids who are drafted given how much money is at stake. With the NCAA itself and major league teams looking to take advantage of young athletes, often an agent is the only person looking out for their best interests. Many teams have actually said that they prefer to deal with an agent because it gives everyone involved some security and comfort knowing that a 20 year-old is not going toe-to-toe with seasoned baseball negotiators.
But the Phillies — or at least someone who works for them — ratted our Wetzler. Apparently out of spite. And in doing so there is an NCAA investigation pending against him which could cause him to be ineligible for his senior year and put his very future in baseball in peril.
This was a shameful move. Simply pathetic.
UPDATE: Ruben Amaro was asked about the report:
Ruben Amaro Jr. would not comment on Baseball America report. “It’s an investigation.” Referred inquiries to Marti Wolever.
— Matt Gelb (@magelb) February 20, 2014
Not your investigation, Rube. You could talk about it if you wanted to. I can see why you might not want to.
At any rate: it was not the Phillies’ business to tell the NCAA about his agent, but they did. It is their business to answer for what they’ve done, but now they won’t. Got it.
(Thanks to Bicepts for the heads up)