Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Steve Caruso, Jeter's first agent, gets his drafted client signed

From "The Captain: The Journey of Derek Jeter"

The Yankees’ Brian Sabean immediately began negotiations with Steve Caruso, a labor relations consultant turned beginner agent who landed Jeter as a client after landing A. J. Hinch, the Oklahoma high school star.

Caruso would come to see Jeter as the second-best teenage prospect he had ever seen, right behind a Miami phenom named Alex Rodriguez. On a strong recommendation from Hinch’s father, Charles Jeter had invited Caruso to Kalamazoo and, over a few slices of pizza, agreed to let him represent his son.

“Then [Scott] Boras showed up at the airport and he was bugging Charles a couple of weeks later,” Caruso said. “Charles, to his credit, wouldn’t let Boras come over because he’d already made a deal with me.”

Caruso would go to bat for Jeter, a client he saw as “a skinny seventeen-year-old who barely said three words,” a client who lived in a home modest enough to greet a visitor with a broken handle on the screen door. That modest existence was about to change in a big six-figure way.

Sabean faxed Caruso an opening offer of $550,000. The agent assured the Yankee executive these negotiations would not be nearly as acrimonious as the Brien Taylor talks but also told him that bid would not get it done.

Caruso wanted to beat the $725,000 bonus Toronto had given the California high school star Shawn Green and his agent, Moorad, the year before. As the faxes and phone calls went back and forth, Jeter phoned the Michigan head coach, Bill Freehan, to seek his counsel. Freehan was in a delicate spot — he wanted Jeter on scholarship in the worst way, but as a former All-Star catcher with the Tigers he understood the lure of the big leagues.

“The kid wanted to go to Michigan,” said Freehan’s assistant, Ace Adams. “No one knows this, but Jeter did not want to sign [with the Yankees]. He wanted to go to Michigan with his girlfriend, and he wanted to play there.”

But the Yankees kept inflating their offer. Derek called the Michigan ead coach and said, “Mr. Freehan, what should I do?” You’ve got to sign,” Freehan finally told him. “You’re crazy if you don't."

Adams was flabbergasted over his boss’s show of integrity and good aith. “I don’t think many college coaches would’ve ever said that,” dams said, “but Bill was such a classy guy.”

Jeter listened to Freehan. On June 28, 1992, two days after his ighteenth birthday, Jeter signed an $800,000 deal with the Yankees hat included a $700,000 bonus (Caruso’s 5 percent cut amounted to $35,000) and enough to cover the full ride to Michigan that Jeter was giving up.

His deal at number 6 doubled Chad Mottola's at number 5 and beat those signed by the top three picks.

from The Captain

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