History and Services
The Sparta Group, Inc., has been representing professional baseball players since 1980. Over this time, we have developed what we believe is a unique and effective approach to the representation of professional athletes. This philosophy revolves around a number of factors, the most central of which are listed below:
Overall Negotiating Experience: The Sparta Group has over 30 years of contract negotiating experience. This experience includes preparing and presenting numerous salary arbitration cases, as well as major free agent negotiations. A few of these negotiations are noted below:
International Experience: Baseball is a global business, and our experience with players and teams from all over the world is extensive. In our more than 30 year history, we have represented players from Japan, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Panama, Australia, Canada, Curacao, the Virgin Islands, the Netherlands, as well as the United States. We have done numerous contract negotiations for both foreign and American-born players in both the United States and abroad. They include the following:
As noted above, Julio Zuleta's 2006, two-year plus option guaranteed contract worth $11.1 million with the Chiba Lotte Marines made him the third highest paid player in the entire Japanese Pacific League.
Following an outstanding season in Japan in 2005, we negotiated a one year Major League contract for left-handed reliever Pedro Feliciano with the New York Mets. Pedro finished the 2006 season with the 3rd best ERA amongst National League relievers.
Tsuyoshi Shinjo's 2003, two-year, $1.85 million guaranteed contract with the New York Mets made him the FIRST Japanese position player in history to sign a Major League contract in the United States. We are proud to have negotiated such a landmark contract.
The 1995 contracts of Australian amateur free agents Matthew Gourlay ($500,000) and Chad Needle ($525,000) represented the second and third highest signing bonuses EVER given to an Australian Free Agent. In addition to the above Major League contracts, we negotiate winter baseball contracts every year with teams from Mexico, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and Venezuela.
Amateur Advisory Services: The Sparta Group has also been advising amateur players since 1980. This group of players has ranged from college and high school first round draft choices to Australian-born free agents. Our philosophy with regard to amateurs has always centered around two major points: maintaining a player's amateur eligibility so as not to jeopardize their standing as a student athlete; and educating both the player and the family on the realities of entering professional baseball (i.e. the present and true value of any contract they may consider, given taxes, expenses, etc.).
We strongly believe that our job, even more so in the case of amateurs, is to provide education and information. Because of the "newness" of the process for amateur athletes and their families, it is incumbent upon us not to tell them "what they want to hear" but rather to provide them with truths about the process that will allow them to make the best and most informed decision given their particular circumstances. Signing a professional baseball contract is a life-changing decision for an individual AND a family. We believe it must be treated as such.
Minor League Negotiations: We also take great pride in negotiating every contract for our players, from the $1,500 per month negotiations in the minor leagues, up through the multi-million dollar negotiations of arbitration and free agency. We feel that this allows the client to become comfortable with the process of negotiation, and allows him to get to know The Sparta Group. It also establishes a record of preparedness and professionalism on behalf of the client with the club.
We have a reputation with Major League clubs, as well as the Major League Baseball Players Association, of being very well prepared and diligent, whether we are talking about millions of dollars, or a minor league contract. We take great pride in this reputation.
Endorsement and Marketing: In addition to negotiations with all of the Major League Baseball teams, as well as International clubs, we also have extensive experience negotiating endorsement and equipment deals. We believe in establishing a personalized marketing strategy for each player, both at the Major and Minor League level, so that we can most effectively maximize his success on the field. From national commercials with companies such as MasterCard™ and Sony™ to card and equipment deals with Upper Deck™, Topps™, Nike™, Rawlings™, Adidas™, etc., we have a long and established history of endorsement contacts and negotiations.
Client Education: Our approach with regard to ALL of our services is to EDUCATE the client so that he may make good, sound decisions. We do not believe in the philosophy of making decisions for our clients. Instead, we believe in providing each client with the information and understanding necessary to make the best possible decision, whether he be leasing a car, buying a house, or signing a multi-year contract.
Workout Facilities and Trainers: We believe that the work and preparation an athlete does in the off-season is imperative to his reaching peak performance during the season. In order to help our clients reach that level of performance, The Sparta Group has access to, and experience with, an extensive network of trainers and workout facilities throughout the country.
Our goal is to provide our clients with the necessary resources to help them reach their full potential as baseball players. Having years of experience with the best baseball-specific trainers and facilities around the country allows us to reach this goal.
Quality Over Quantity: The Sparta Group is, and always has been, built on personalized service and attention. We do not measure our success by the sheer number of clients we represent. In fact, we have intentionally remained small to mid-size over the years to distinguish ourselves from the large, conglomerate sports firms that attempt to represent hundreds of players. Our approach is to target a smaller, more select group of players, and to provide personalized, one-on-one attention. Once we have made the commitment to represent a player, we honor that commitment, regardless of what path his career may take. The Sparta Group does not strive to be the biggest, but rather strives to be the best.