Bad Bunny’s agency, Rimas Sports, sues MLBPA for alleged discriminatory sanctions and unfair trade practices

Rimas Sports, the sports agency founded by international recording artist Bad Bunny, has filed a federal lawsuit against the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). The agency claims the MLBPA imposed harsh and unfair sanctions through a biased investigation into its business practices, effectively aimed at shutting down the company.

In the lawsuit filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Puerto Rico, Rimas Sports accused the MLBPA of exceeding its authority under the National Labor Relations Act by imposing sanctions on individuals that affect the entire of the company. The complaint argues that these sanctions are intended to permanently put Rimas Sports out of business.

On April 10, the MLBPA decertified Rimas agent William Arroyo and barred Rimas executives Noah Assad and Jonathan Miranda from seeking certification. The union accused the agency of granting improper benefits to players. Michael Velasquez, another certified MLBPA agent at Rimas, resigned after facing threats of decertification, according to the lawsuit.

Rimas Sports is seeking a temporary restraining order and injunction against these sanctions, arguing that they have caused “irreparable harm” to the company. The lawsuit points out that the MLBPA’s actions prevent certified agents from affiliating with Rimas Sports or Rimas Entertainment in any capacity, thereby crippling their business operations.

The MLBPA declined to comment on the matter

NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 16: (L to R) Baseball Commissioner Robert D. Manfred Jr., 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Ken Griffey Jr., and MLBPA Executive Director Tony Clark look on during a press conference on youth initiatives hosted by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association at Citi Field on Thursday, June 16, 2016 in the Queens borough of New York. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Rimas Sports previously sought redress from an arbitrator, who denied its efforts. The American Arbitration Association will handle the appeal of individual sanctions against Arroyo, Assad and Miranda, which were filed before the May 10 deadline.

The lawsuit outlines the significant financial and operational damages Rimas suffered as a result of the MLBPA’s actions. These include the failure to negotiate a contract extension for New York Mets catcher Francisco Álvarez and the loss of an opportunity to sign reigning National League MVP Ronald Acuña Jr. Additionally, Topps, the baseball card brand owned by Fanatics, informed Rimas that they could not engage in marketing, sponsorship or endorsement deals due to MLBPA bans.

Rimas Sports, created in 2021 by Assad, Miranda and Benito Martínez Ocasio (Bad Bunny), focused on representing Latin American players. The agency quickly gained notable clients, including Álvarez, Mets prospect Ronny Mauricio and Colorado shortstop Ezequiel Tovar, for whom it negotiated a $63.5 million contract extension. However, the agency has been accused by other agents of paying players to join, which would violate MLBPA regulations.

The lawsuit suggests that the MLBPA and Rimas’ competitors viewed the Puerto Rico-founded agency as a disruptive force in the baseball sports agency market. It also alleges that entertainment attorneys Oswaldo Rossi, John Baldivia and Jimmy Barnes were denied certification by the MLBPA unless they agreed not to work with Rimas Sports or represent its clients.

Rimas claims that the MLBPA’s actions are intended to eliminate them from the sports agency market for major and minor league baseball players, thereby causing serious harm to their business.

The lawsuit marks a significant escalation in the dispute between Rimas Sports and the MLBPA, highlighting tensions within the sports agency industry and raising questions about the fairness and scope of the union’s regulatory authority.