A Very American Coup By Michael – Louis Ingram, Editor-in-Chief...
Former Oakland A’s pitcher Dave Stewart Turns Agent
Oakland, CA —A former A’s great is aligned with a current Oakland star, and the combination might ensure that the team is able to keep one of its best around longer than other home-grown sensations, such as Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada.
Dave Stewart, the 1989 World Series MVP, has moved into the player agent business, and his first major client is Eric Chavez, the A’s third baseman. So Stewart’s initial challenge in his new role is working on a long-term extension for Chavez, who will be a free agent at the end of the season.
“All things being equal, Eric would like to stay in Oakland,” Stewart said by phone this week. “At this point, I don’t foresee any problem getting this thing done, but you never know what (the A’s) financial situation is.
Eric and Billy (Beane, the A’s GM) have a nice relationship, and we should be able to get this working.”
Stewart was certified to be an agent in November, and although other ex- players have served as representatives before, the four-time 20-game winner is the most high profile — and has the most intriguing resume as far as potential clients go, because he also served in both the A’s and Blue Jays’ front offices.
In fact, it generally was believed that Stewart would become a general manager, but after he was bypassed for Toronto’s job following the 2001 season and wasn’t contacted for other openings, he abandoned that plan. At the time, he and others believed that racism played a part in his failed GM hunt.
“He wasn’t even called, that’s the amazing thing,” said long-time baseball agent David Sloane, who conducted several player negotiations with Stewart when Stewart was with Toronto. “Considering that some of the people who got jobs were no more qualified than he is, I was surprised.
“In our society, to say that racism played no part in any decision would be a very difficult statement to make, but I really don’t know. I think, candidly, that there’s a good possibility that Dave has too much of his own mind (from an owner’s standpoint), but I think he would have been a great GM. He would have had a tremendous impact.”
Stewart has moved on, however. “When I left Toronto, I made it very, very clear there was no doubt there were obstacles (for minorities interested in GM jobs) and since then, more GM jobs have come up, and there are more qualified minority candidates, and none of them have been hired,” Stewart said. “As far as trying to be a GM, there’s no sense in trying to knock on a door that isn’t going to open.
“But this (new job) has nothing to do with the fact I didn’t become a GM.
I like to negotiate, I have the gift and the ability to do it, I’m trusted in the industry and I still have a lot of contacts left in baseball. So it’s a natural move to make.”
J.P. Ricciardi, once Beane’s right-hand man in Oakland and now holder of that Toronto GM job, thinks Stewart suits the bill perfectly.
“He’s been a player, he’s been on management side, he knows all the ins and outs of the business,” Ricciardi said. “That’s what a player is looking for. So I think Dave will be successful. He’s got so many resources.”
Stewart lives in San Diego, Chavez’s hometown, and has known Chavez since he was in high school, so when Chavez parted ways with his former representatives, the Beverly Hills Sports Council, after last season, he eventually called Stewart.
“He visited, and we shook hands the same day,” said Stewart, who has about 10 other clients who will be on 40-man rosters.
Next up: extending Chavez’s deal, something the A’s couldn’t do with either Giambi or Tejada, although Beane has said since last spring that he wants to get Chavez signed before this season begins. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Jermaine Dye’s $11.667 million/year deal is up at the end of the season.
“It’s a good start that Dave is someone I know well and get along with,” Beane said.