Baseball dad/NIKE sales rep offers shoe deal to 10 year old to join travel team
SANTA BARBARA, CA—While the NBA free agent market is the focus on ESPN, the travel baseball free agent market is reaching unprecedented competitiveness. With tryouts for the 2019-2020 season just around the corner, teams of all ages are finding creative ways to stack their rosters. Usually, kids are offered more play time, lower fees, and a date with the coach’s teenage daughter. For one youth baseball prodigy, a shoe deal with NIKE might be what draws him to the Carpinteria Select Elite 11U club.
Robert Dawson, a NIKE sales rep, also happens to be the Select Elite’s head bleacher coach and has been working hard at recruiting this summer. In his latest pitch, he’s offered 10 year old Carlos Renteria a starting position on the team, waved team fees, and free baseball cleats for the rest of his playing career or until he’s 14.
Carlos, a rising star at shortstop, runs a 8.9 60-yard-dash and can almost hit the ball 220 feet. Standing at whopping 4’10 and weighing in at 102lbs, Carlos is already being eyed by several scouts in his young career and is a shoe-in for the MLB in a few years. He probably won’t even play minor league ball.
“We get emails all the time from USA Baseball, USSSA All-America, and D1 universities wanting to see him play at their showcases,” explained Rosaria Renteria, Carlos’s mother. “With attention like that, I’m not surprised he’s getting offers like this to join teams.”
Dawson has never made an offer like this before, but with the Select’s travel league as competitive as it is, he needed to do whatever necessary to sign Renteria. Although he isn’t technically allowed to offer shoe deals like this, he is allowed to buy the shoes and give them to Carlos, which is kind of the same thing, and Carlos doesn’t know the difference.
During the Spring, the Select will have full rights to Renteria, but during the summer he will be allowed to play for other teams in tournaments, so long as the team is not from California and he is not competing against the Select. So far, he is planning to play in Cooperstown, Orlando, Las Vegas, Myrtle Beach, and San Diego with five different teams. All of those tournaments are completely expense free for the Renteria’s, including travel and lodging. He’s still accepting offers for the remaining 6 weeks of summer he has free.
All of these perks rid Renteria of his amateur status, thus making him ineligible to compete in the NCAA. However, he plans to get his GED at 16 and sign as a free agent at that point.