On Plesac’s agents dumping him

Zach Plesac

Zach Plesac, earning his D.A.* of the Month award 26 August.

I promise, I have more important things to ponder. Things such as whether next year’s rule changes really will do anything substantial. (If what I saw watching the Las Vegas Aviators host the Tacoma Rainers Wednesday night says anything, don’t hold your breath. Even with the pitch clock and strict obedience thereto, the 8-7 Aviators loss still took about three hours and ten minutes to play. Thank 37:19 minutes worth of between-innings time for the real culprit: broadcast commercials )

Things such as whether Aaron Judge will reach not 60+ home runs but maybe 70, at the rate he’s going. (He parked 56 and 57 in Fenway Park Tuesday night while his Yankees beat the Red Sox 7-6 in ten innings. He left himself four short of Roger Maris, the Yankee single-season record-holder, in game 143 of the season, if you still really care about such arbitrary things.)

Things such as whether the coming expanded postseason will prove a convoluted mess on top of its going in as a true competition dilution. (Why is Commissioner Rube Goldberg more interested in arbitrary time-of-game tinkering than he is in adjusting divisions, eliminating regular-season interleague play, and restoring real pennant races? He still doesn’t get it: 2:15 minutes worth of commercials after each half inning elongate games more than pitchers or hitters adjusting after every pitch, in-inning pitching changes, or mound conferences ever did.)

Things such as the Rays making history by putting the Show’s first all-Latino team on the field to commemorate Roberto Clemente Day, and clobbering the Blue Jays 11-0 while they were at it. The leading lashers: Randy Arozarena (3-for-5 including a double, a run scored, and a run driven home), Yandy Díaz (a three-run homer in the second), and Manuel Margot (a three-run double in a six-run ninth).

But no. I have to ponder a very rare instance of a player being dumped by his agents instead of the other way around. And this is because Zach Plesac, Guardians pitcher, did something dumb once too often for their taste.

On 26 August, Plesac surrendered two long balls already when he had Seattle’s Jake Lamb 1-2 in the bottom of the seventh. Then he fed Lamb a meal fit to pad a Mariners lead into 3-1 after Lamb fed it over the right center field fence. Plesac spun around on contact, bent over a bit as he watched the ball fly, then punched the mound in abject frustration.

Uh-oh. Even as the Guardians struck back to bust the tie and hang in to win off a three-run eighth, that punch took Plesac out for the rest of the season thanks to the fractured hand that resulted. This was the last thing the American League Central-leading, postseason-bound Guards needed.

It also proved the last thing Creative Artists Agency needed, too. About two weeks after the Guards put Plesac on the injured list, CAA dropped him as a client. “Three strikes appeared to be enough for CAA to say ‘you’re out,’” writes the New York Post‘s Jeremy Layton. “Plesac, despite a 3-11 record in 2022, has pitched decently for Cleveland (4.39 ERA), and is eligible for a big arbitration payday in the offseason. Still, the agency clearly decided the juice was not worth the squeeze.”

This is the pitcher who co-violated the team’s COVID protocols in 2020, having a night out  in Chicago including dinner in a restaurant and a card game at a buddy’s place, without getting team clearance first. The Guards ordered Plesac and co-partyer Mike Clevinger to issue statements. Then he went on Instagram and said the incident being reported in the press made it the media’s fault.**

This is also the pitcher who incurred a thumb fracture in May 2021. Was he hit by a comebacker? Was he hit by a pitch while batting in an interleague game in a National League ballpark? Nope. He suffered the injury . . . while ripping his jersey off and apart after he was battered for five runs (only three earned) during a Guards loss to the Twins. It cost him a month and the Guards another team migraine.

Not many players self-destruct as publicly, spectacularly, or ridiculously as Plesac. He’s  probably cost himself a considerable enough piece of the arbitration payday he might have expected otherwise this offseason. Maybe that will finish sending the message CAA began.

If Plesac’s agents can dump him merely for being a repeat jerk, why don’t other baseball agents—and teams, for that matter, whether trading, releasing, or letting them just walk into free agency—drop those guilty of far more grave behaviours? They’ve done it before, in various ways, and they can and should do it again.

Especially regarding such behaviours as domestic violence. A player being a repeat jerk is just that. Domestic abusers are many things more serious. Calling them mere jerks would be an unwarranted compliment.

* —Dumb Ass.

** —When you like us, we’re the press. When you hate us, we’re the media.—William Safire.

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