The life of a sports agent isn’t always glamorous. Beneath the veneer of expensive suits, luxury cars, and pricey meals with world famous clients, the job has its fair share of rejection. Of course, most agents wouldn’t tell you that. Apparently Joshua Kusnick isn’t the typical sports agent.
The MLB certified agent, who represents Brewers pitcher Jeremy Jeffress and countless other players, calls himself “an outsider in the agent world.” He dabbles in comedy, and he regularly opens up about his trials and tribulations in the cutthroat and largely mysterious industry on “The Joshua Kusnick Experience” podcast that’s hosted on NatsGM.com.
On an episode that was posted January 15, Kusnick expresses frustration for his “inability to be transparent, given the constraints of [his] job,” before deciding to open up a bit. Okay, a lot.
“I think enough time has passed and with the scope of my career—and I could be totally wrong and the my career is over and then everyone will just have this—I don’t mind talking about stuff that happened to me over the years in a way that, really, I had never seen discussed before because…I don’t know why.”
After talking about recently seeing Mr. Belding at Winter Meetings and an anecdote about eating Christmas dinners with Leslie Nielsen (his best friend’s godfather), Kusnick gets into a regular part of almost every agent’s life: getting fired.
“I’ve been fired a bunch of times! It’s happened…a lot! You know why? Because it happens to everybody,” Kusnick says. “You get fired a lot being an agent. The first guy I signed is also the first guy that fired me, so it happens.”
He continues on, speaking candidly about being fired by Kenley Jansen, despite allegedly convincing him to keep playing baseball when Dodgers decided to convert the All-Star closer from catcher to pitcher early in his minor league career. Kusnick follows that with a story about being let go by new Brewers outfielder Lorenzo Cain, whom he represented his entire minor league career and during his first season with Milwaukee in 2010.
“This is my rip your heart out moment in my career where I was like ‘Why am I even doing this?’ I used to tell people that if I ever got fired by Lo, I’d quit the industry. That’s how sure I was I wasn’t getting fired,” Kusnick says.
Shortly after the Brewers traded him to Kansas City as part of the Zack Greinke trade prior to the 2011 season, Kusnick says his dynamic with Cain “wasn’t the relationship I used to have with him” and he claimed Cain was upset about his agent’s inability to get him a shoe deal. At that point, Cain allegedly voiced his uncertainty about his representation. Kusnick says he drove eight hours to Cain’s home that day to try and keep his client.
“And then he just texts me after seven years [together], ‘Hey, I’m just going to make a move. I think it’s best for me right now.’ I’m like, ‘Wow! You didn’t even tell me. You texted me after I drove here.’ And that’s how I got fired by Lorenzo Cain.”
Though Kusnick says he’s lost his fair share of clients through the years, it seems losing Cain hurt him most, both emotionally and (now) financially. This episode was recorded before Cain signed his five-year, $80M deal with Milwaukee last week that would’ve made Kusnick about $8M richer. However, Kusnick recently tweeted “if you can’t take that kind of hit, don’t be an agent” in response to the signing, and he stresses his lack of monetary concern on the podcast as well:
“I’ve seen [Cain] a couple times since at the field and I’ve hugged him, but we’re not friends. It sucks. I don’t care about the money. I feel badly that I don’t get to be friends with him anymore. And that’s the part of the job that really sucks. With him, it certainly transcended baseball and it’s unfortunate. And like I told you before, I don’t care about the money and I can’t comment on his free agency, obviously, but I hope he gets everything that he deserves. I hope he gets paid everything that he deserves.”
Listen to the full episode below. Kusnick’s commentary about Cain begins around the 21:20 mark.