Ben Verlander's 'Flippin' Bats' welcomes MLB agent Rachel Luba
From the very beginning, Rachel Luba never backed down. She broke into a largely male space, becoming the youngest certified female agent in MLB.
The founder of Luba Sports joined Ben Verlander on "Flippin' Bats" to talk about the business and what it's like representing big names such as Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Trevor Bauer and free-agent outfielder Yasiel Puig.
Luba fostered a passion for sports at a young age and has competed in gymnastics and boxing at times in her life, but her desire to work in MLB wasn't because she was a fan of baseball growing up.
"I realized this idea of being a sports agent was intriguing to me ... I was friends with a lot of baseball players at UCLA. I arranged a meeting with an [baseball] agent – that was the first agent I ever talked to. I walked in there, and he pretty much told me, 'Look, you're a girl ... what I'm really saying is you're not really welcome in the industry. ... I'm not saying you can't do it, but it's a boys club.'"
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The agent did leave Luba with at least one decent piece of advice: Get a law degree. Luba walked out of his office and immediately applied to law school. She was dead set on baseball and proving the agent wrong.
Luba had to teach herself everything she knew, but she had some help from a college classmate and former UCLA baseball player – Bauer. The pitcher was willing to teach her the game. But just because they were close doesn't mean he made the decision to transition to Luba as his agent without serious consideration.
"I think Bauer was the perfect person because if you kind of just look at who he is, he isn't your typical baseball player. He's not necessarily the most gifted athlete, but he was able to make himself into something in baseball. He doesn't view things as there's only one mold of the kind of person you have to be in order to do something. ... He never thought, you don't fit the mold."
Luba created a different model for agencies, one that operates more like a law firm and creates more value for the player. And that's what makes her different. She charges a flat retainer fee and billable hours instead of a commission, so the athlete is paying based on services instead of based on the value of his contract.
Another player often in the spotlight on her roster is Puig, whom she recruited this offseason. Currently, Puig is playing in Mexico looking to return to MLB.
"He's not done with baseball ... he's still an incredible talent. And I truly believe baseball is better with him in it. ... He's gotten to the point where he realizes while baseball needs Puig, Puig needs baseball too. ... This isn't the first time he's had to fight for something and fight through some low points."
To hear more, including why Mets fans aren't a fan of Luba, check out the entire episode below.
Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the "Flippin' Bats" podcast. Born and raised in Richmond, Virginia, Verlander was an All-American at Old Dominion University before he joined his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick of the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years in the Tigers organization. Follow him on Twitter @Verly32.