Rachel Luba, MLB’s youngest certified female agent, is in the middle of the most interesting free agency in the sport.
With her first client, free agent Trevor Bauer, Luba won the reigning NL Cy Young award winner’s business in a formal pitch to him and his father a year ago, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. Despite knowing Bauer for 10 years, going back to their days as UCLA athletes, Luba sold Bauer on how her agency – Luba Sports – separates itself from traditional agencies by emphasizing analytics and offering social media and marketing services.
“Rachel’s plan made so much sense to me – the value isn’t just determined by what the player does on the field,” Bauer told the paper of his decision after leaving the Wasserman Media Group in 2019.
“The days of an agent going into a room, getting drinks with the owner, getting them drunk and agreeing to a deal are long gone, but the agency world still seems to feel like players should be compensated on past performance rather than realizing the industry now pays for projected future performance.
“When you realize that shift, the value of negotiating a contract is drastically diminished and players need to be a brand off the field to set them up for what they might want to do afterward.”
According to the company’s website, Luba Sports “utilizes modern business practices and algorithmic data to elevate their clients’ negotiation potential, improve accuracy of valuations, and raise the players’ status in the public sphere.”
Bauer and Luba, 28, were friendly at UCLA — one a star pitcher, the other a standout gymnast. According to the Monterey Herald, Luba’s goal to become an agent started at UCLA after talking to a baseball player’s representative. She graduated from UCLA a year early and got her law degree from Pepperdine University.
Bauer, who declined a qualifying offer from the Reds this offseason, has become one of the most outspoken players in the league. He has offered his opinion and in the past, has gotten into it with fans who criticized him on social media.
After Nikki Giles, a senior at Texas State University, tweeted that Bauer was her “least favorite person in all sports,” the then-Indians pitcher began to harass her. He tweeted at her roughly 80 times, including rummaging through her past tweets and exposing her underage drinking. Bauer later acknowledged his behavior on the social media app, noting that it had “a negative impact” and that he would “wield the responsibility of my public platform more responsibly in the future.”
Luba has helped facilitate that.
“Trevor is very analytical; he was a mechanical engineering major,” Luba told the Chronicle. “The way he goes about everything — eating, training, people — there are specific reasons. He doesn’t do things that don’t have a purpose — except on Twitter. I tried to explain to him, ‘You need to operate on Twitter like you do in the rest of your life.’ That was a big change for him.”
Eventually the message got through to Bauer, who can count the Mets among his many suitors.
“Me being hard-headed, I didn’t listen and didn’t listen,” he said. “About the fifth or sixth time, I said, ‘You know, you’re right.’”
Luba, who recently added free agent Yasiel Puig as client, recently made Forbes’ 30 under 30 list. She is the only female with her own agency and she became the first female agent with a Cy Young winner.
She joins a growing list of powerful female agents in sports. Lonnie Murray is another female MLB agent. Emilie Castonguay represents Rangers pick Alexis Lafreniere, and is the first female NHL agent with the top draft pick as a client. Nicole Lynn represents Jets rising star Quinnen Williams; the former No. 3 pick is the highest NFL Draft selection represented by a woman.
“I had the motivation. I was like, I’m already being blackballed half the time because of my gender, and I didn’t want to join a traditional agency and get sucked into that world,” Luba said of her decision to launcher her own company.
“I was like, ‘Screw it, I’ll go out on my own. I want to do this myself.’”