SBD/Issue 87/Franchises

MLBPA Reportedly Watching Additional Teams Over Payroll

Rays Identified As One Of Four Teams In Union's
Sights Following Marlins' Payroll Agreement
Following the Marlins' agreement with MLB and the MLBPA to raise payroll, no other such deals "have been reached and none apparently will be sought until after April 1," but the Pirates, Rays, Padres and Royals "remain in the union's sights," according to sources cited by baseball writer Murray Chass. April 1 is the deadline for "revenue-sharing recipients to report on their use of the 2009 money." MLB Exec VP/Labor Relations Rob Manfred "declined to confirm the identity of teams that have been discussed with the union." However, he admitted, "We've had more conversations than just about the Marlins. It's not a Marlins-only issue." Rays Owner Stuart Sternberg said that he "knew nothing about the union's interest in the Rays' use of the Rays' revenue-sharing money." Sternberg: "I saw the thing with the Marlins, but we've never been asked at all about it so whether we are or not I don't know. I think we've invested a lot in the team, and certainly you can see the results from it." Padres Vice Chair & CEO Jeff Moorad also said that he was "not aware of any union interest in the Padres." Pirates President Frank Coonelly did not return calls seeking comment. Meanwhile, no figures were released regarding the Marlins' deal, but a source said that the team's "share of the revenue-sharing pool has been around $40[M] a year;" the Marlins' '09 payroll was $36.8M. Chass reported last week's agreement "resulted from extensive talks among the three parties and forestalled the union's plans to file one or more grievances alleging that multiple clubs were violating the part of the collective bargaining agreement dealing with revenue sharing." MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's office "evidently felt the union had a strong case against the Marlins and didn't want to risk a hearing before an arbitrator because too much financial information would most likely had to have been disclosed" (MURRAYCHASS.com, 1/17).

CAUSE AND EFFECT? In Miami, Clark Spencer reports the Marlins yesterday signed 2B Dan Uggla to a one-year, $7.8M contract, the "third-largest deal in Marlins history for a single season." Uggla's deal could make him the "richest player on the team next season" (MIAMI HERALD, 1/19). The deal "does not preclude the Marlins, who have been shopping Uggla, to trade him before Opening Day" (South Florida SUN-SENTINEL, 1/19). Meanwhile, ESPN's Buster Olney said of the Marlins last week signing P Josh Johnson to a four-year, $39M extension, "A lot of people are going to say, 'Wow, this deal was finished right after the Marlins got their wrist slapped by [MLB] and by the players' union.' I think it's a total coincidence -- the timing of this deal -- because these negotiations were way down the line. ... On top of that, the Marlins already have been increasing payroll" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN, 1/15).

WHAT TOOK SO LONG? In N.Y., Bill Madden wrote, "What took the union so long to press the issue of teams pocketing their revenue-sharing booty instead of spending it on players -- which is what the system was supposed to be all about?" It took Red Sox Owner John Henry, a "longtime Selig loyalist, to blow the whistle on baseball's revenue-sharing welfare cheats" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 1/17). Meanwhile, in Boston, Nick Cafardo wrote MLB player agent Scott Boras' November comments regarding revenue sharing "had a major effect on last week's union demand for the Marlins to spend more money on payroll." Boras at the MLB GM meetings in November said that some teams "weren't using their revenue-sharing and central-fund sourcing money to improve their rosters." The Marlins were "one of the teams targeted and, lo and behold, the union was able to get assurances from them and [MLB] that they would start using their free money for payroll." Cafardo noted the Pirates "for some reason ... continue to fly under the radar in this regard," as they "were not part of this conversation between the union and MLB" (BOSTON GLOBE, 1/17).

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