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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Top 2023 MLB Draft Prospect Is Taking A Different Approach to NIL

  • Tennessee pitcher Chase Dollander is signing NIL deals that give him access to products that help his on-field performance.
  • He’s gained access to technology, products and resources he didn’t have before.
Jake Crandall/ Advertiser

As MLB.com’s No. 2 projected prospect and top-rated pitcher in the 2023 Draft, Tennessee’s Chase Dollander could be using name, image, and likeness deals to cash in on his star power. 

But the SEC Pitcher of the Year has taken a different approach: He focused on deals that specifically help improve his on-field performance — specifically partnering with companies that help with physical recovery. 

“I’ve been focused on companies and brands that contribute to my health and performance. Specifically brands that can put me in a financial situation to help me to invest in other products to help me become the best I can be,” Dollander told Front Office Sports. The slate of deals he’s signed have “helped me be able to become the next tier of player — just because I feel like recovery is such an important aspect of the game.”

His experience with NIL illustrates that deals can provide much more than just a weekly or monthly paycheck. Many agents and industry experts have been wary, for example, of deals that offer athletes products as part of their compensation. 

But Dollander’s approach shows that for college athletes, access to company products can be a game-changer. The cash he receives is also going toward improving his performance. With his extra earnings, he said, “I’m able to go out and eat a healthier meal.”

  • Before NIL, he relied on his family and his athletic department to provide all of the resources he needed to be a star, he said. 
  • But after last season, he realized he needed to place an extra emphasis on post-outing recovery. 
  • So he turned to NIL deals — which provide him not just disposable income, but also get access to products he may not be able to afford otherwise. 

Dollander has one partnership with Therabody, for example, which includes monetary compensation as well as access to the company’s recovery products. He received the massage gun — the most basic of which go for $179 — as well as compression boots for leg recovery that start at $699 a pair.

He also has a partnership with Six Star Pro Nutrition, which helps him refuel, particularly with protein-based products. 

Dollander is using NIL to make sure he’s ready for the draft, which will be held July 9-11 in Seattle. But he also acknowledges it could provide career opportunities for athletes in the future who build relationships with brands.

“I thought it could potentially be one of the best things that’s happened to college sports, just so the athletes can No. 1 can get paid for what they’re doing on and off the field, but not only that, but just kind of reinvest in themselves.”

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