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Suit: Bad Bunny's agency hit with 'death penalty'

Rimas Sports, the agency founded by recording artist Bad Bunny, is accusing Major League Baseball's Players Association of "placing a death penalty" on the agency, according to a federal lawsuit the company filed Thursday.



Suit: Bad Bunny's agency hit with 'death penalty'
Suit: Bad Bunny's agency hit with 'death penalty'
Rimas Sports, the agency founded by recording artist Bad Bunny, has accused the Major League Baseball Players Association of "placing a death penalty" on the agency through "a discriminatory, biased, and pre-determined investigation" into Rimas' business practices, according to a federal lawsuit the company filed Thursday.

On April 10, the MLBPA decertified Rimas agent William Arroyo and prevented Rimas executives Noah Assad and Jonathan Miranda from seeking certification after accusing the agency of providing improper benefits to players. Additionally, Rimas' other MLBPA-certified agent, Michael Velasquez, was threatened with decertification and quit the company, according to the lawsuit.

In a 27-page complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, Rimas sought a temporary restraining order and injunction against the penalties levied by the union, which the company argued were "designed to put Rimas Sports permanently out of business." The suit alleged that the MLBPA had "exceeded the scope of its statutory authority under the National Labor Relations Act" by extending sanctions on individuals to what amounts to the whole of the company. Rimas employees were previously denied a temporary restraining order to continue doing business, and, the complaint said, relief is warranted from overreach by the MLBPA that extends to the entire company.

"By blanketly prohibiting any MLBPA certified agents from affiliating with Rimas Sports and Rimas Entertainment in any capacity," the complaint said, "the MLBPA has effectively placed a death-penalty sanction on Rimas Sports as an agency and prohibited Rimas Entertainment, which is not in the sports agency business and has never had a MLBPA Certified Agent, from contracting with clients who may wish to secure branding, sponsorship or endorsement deals. These restrictions extend well beyond the scope of the MLBPA's authority to regulate its agents."

The MLBPA declined comment through a spokesperson.

Rimas previously sought relief from the sanctions on Arroyo, Assad and Miranda through an arbitrator, who denied the effort. The American Arbitration Association will determine the appeal of their individual penalties, which were filed before a May 10 deadline.

The effect on Rimas as a whole, the complaint argued, goes far deeper. Rimas argued that the sanctions have caused the company "irreparable harm," citing the union's prevention of certified agents from working with Rimas; a note sent from MLB to teams warning them not to deal with Rimas employees; and the unwillingness of third parties to engage with the company.

As examples, Rimas cited an inability to continue negotiating a contract extension for New York Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez as well as losing the opportunity to sign reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. as a client due to the penalties. Topps, the baseball card brand owned by Fanatics -- in which the MLBPA has invested -- "notified Rimas Sports that because of the MLBPA's prohibitions that they cannot speak with Rimas Sports marketing, endorsement, and sponsorship deals, such as one for Ronald Acuña," according to the complaint.

Rimas Sports, which was started in 2021 by Assad, Miranda and Benito Martínez Ocasio -- the international recording superstar known as Bad Bunny -- aimed to cater to players from Latin America and quickly built a list of clients that included Álvarez, Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio and Colorado shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, for whom the agency negotiated a seven-year, $63.5 million contract extension. Other agents accused Rimas of paying players to join the agency, which would run afoul of MLBPA regulations. While Assad and Miranda sought MLBPA certification, Martínez, according to the complaint, remains "a semi-passive investor."

While the lawsuit does not address the substance of the MLBPA's disciplinary action against Rimas employees, it suggests that the union and others believed "these Puerto Rican 'outsiders' were disrupting baseball sports agency order too much, too fast. This was something that the MLBPA and Rimas Sports' competitors would not allow."

About a year before the completion of the MLBPA's investigation and its decision, entertainment attorneys Oswaldo Rossi, John Baldivia and Jimmy Barnes sought union certification, according to the complaint. In a letter from an MLBPA lawyer, the complaint said, they were told their "certifications will be conditioned on your agreement not to work for or with Rimas Sports, represent Rimas Sports clients" -- an "unprecedented condition imposed on them [that] is not part of the MLBPA Regulations."

"The MLBPA knew, or should have known, that such actions have caused and will continue to cause severe and agency-killing harm to the Rimas Companies," the complaint continued. "In fact, the intended effect of the MLBPA's actions was precisely to eliminate the Rimas Companies from participating altogether in the sports agency market for MLB and MiLB players."