SBD/Issue 43/Leagues & Governing Bodies

MLBPA Monitoring Remarks That Could Affect Free Agent Spending

MLBPA Monitoring Comments It Believes
Are Meant To Put Crimp On Free-Agent Market
The MLBPA is "monitoring comments from team officials that it believes are meant to put a crimp in the money spent on talent this offseason," according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com. Incoming MLBPA Exec Dir Michael Weiner said that the union is "keeping tabs on remarks by anonymous club officials who have made dire forecasts about the state of free agency this winter," as the MLBPA is "concerned about predictions that a flood of 'non-tendered' players will drive down salaries for free agents already on the market." While Weiner "declined to use the word 'collusion,' his comments hint at an orchestrated effort by club officials." Weiner: "If we could prove there was a plan by management to use the press to try to depress free-agent salaries, in our view that would be a violation of our contract." MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred "quickly disputed Weiner's take on events." Manfred: "It seems to me a bit far-fetched to suggest that we are attempting to effect the free-agent market through anonymous quotes from unnamed sources." Crasnick noted the MLBPA "took note of two recent blog items" by ESPN's Buster Olney, who "sought input from multiple general managers before writing that 'dozens' of players with three, four or five years of service time will be cut loose by teams rather than offered contracts next month." White Sox GM Kenny Williams said, "I don't think we're out of the woods yet with sports getting slapped in the face of reality. It's not fun and games anymore. It's a business, and it's got to be run as a business." Weiner "didn't dispute that observation but thinks an improving economy and the desire by teams to field competitive clubs should make for an active market" (ESPN.com, 11/10).

DEFINE MID-MARKET: In St. Louis, Joe Strauss notes MLB player agent Scott Boras yesterday "sneered at the premise" when asked about a "mid-market franchise's capacity to remain competitive after retaining a franchise player with a payroll-rattling long-term deal." Boras: "I don't know what a mid-market franchise is. That's like a midsize aircraft carrier. They all have the potential to have an economic bomb. If you're drawing 3.3 million fans and you're averaging $50 a fan coming in, I just don't know that mid-market term. I'm trying to think if that's part of the laissez-faire system. I don't know" (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 11/11).

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