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Volume 25 No. 177
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Issues Raised At MLB Owners Meeting Likely Will Be Part Of CBA

Defensive shifts are just one of many topics that will be debated at this week's meetings
Photo: GETTY IMAGES

The issues that are raised during this week's MLB owners meetings in Atlanta "likely will be a part of the CBA negotiations," according to Nick Cafardo of the BOSTON GLOBE. According to MLB Deputy Commissioner/Baseball Administration & Chief Legal Officer Dan Halem, some of those issues include roster size, a 20-second pitch clock, defensive shifts, reducing strikeouts and sign stealing. Meanwhile, Halem rejects agent Scott Boras’ idea that "lower attendance was linked to teams tanking it or in less-dramatic terms, rebuilding." Halem said, "I certainly don’t agree with that characterization. I don’t, and our owners don’t believe that there’s any connection between the rebuilding process and overall attendance. There are a variety of reasons for our attendance numbers" (BOSTON GLOBE, 11/11).

CHECK THE STOVE: ESPN.com's Jesse Rogers noted there is a "distinctly different tone being set at the beginning of this MLB offseason compared with the last one, as money seemingly is going to flow back into the game -- and into players' pockets -- one year after one of the slowest markets since the advent of free agency" (ESPN.com, 11/9). But YAHOO SPORTS' Jeff Passan noted the early indications given by the Yankees, Dodgers and the Cubs "do not portend an offseason of free-flowing cash from the game’s financial titans." Meanwhile, MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark knows it is an "imperative offseason not just for the union but for him." Historically, players have "judged the union’s success on the fecundity of a free-agent market" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/9). In Baltimore, Jon Meoli noted across MLB, the "general aversion" to crossing the luxury tax threshold -- which will be $207M in payroll -- will be part of a "major focus in free agency this year if the market is suppressed the way it was last winter." However, all that will do is "give clearance to teams at the bottom end of the payroll spectrum to keep doing what they're doing" (BALTIMORE SUN, 11/9).

THE $400M MAN: In DC, Chelsea Janes noted some MLB execs "scoff at the notion" that free agent RF Bryce Harper will be the first player to ink a $400M contract -- or that "anyone is, at the moment." But Boras, who reps Harper, would argue that $400M is "not only a reasonable figure for Harper, but a conservative one." Boras likely "won't go" to GMs and will instead "sell to ownership." An investment this big could "change the future of a franchise."Boras needs only "one team to bite, to see reason to overpay or to buy into Harper as a once-in-a-generation talent" to make that $400M figure "seem a lot more realistic." Janes: "The question, of course, is whether that team exists -- and if it does, does Harper want to coexist with it?" (WASHINGTON POST, 11/10).