MLBPA Takes Braves GM To Task Over Free Agency Comments
MLBPA Exec Dir Tony Clark has "all but accused teams of colluding" after Braves Exec VP & GM Alex Anthopoulos earlier this week "alluded to conversations with other teams about free agency and how it would affect trade discussions," according to Jeff Passan of ESPN.com. Clark yesterday said Anthopoulos called "into question the integrity of the entire free-agent system." Clark: "The clear description of club coordination is egregious." Passan noted it is a "bold attack by the union, one that drew huzzahs from some players who believe the league is colluding and eye-rolls from others who saw it as little more than grandstanding." Either way, it was a "shot across the bow from Clark on the third day of free agency." With another offseason "expected to mirror" the past two winters, Clark has "made his style clear." Passan: "He is going to fight" (ESPN.com, 11/6). Anthopoulos on a conference call Tuesday after re-signing RF Nick Markakis and C Tyler Flowers said, "Every day you get more information. And we've had time to connect with 27 of the clubs -- obviously the Astros and (Nationals) being in the World Series, they were tied up -- but we had a chance to get a sense of what the other clubs are going to look to do in free agency, who might be available in trades" (USA TODAY, 11/7).
GROWING CONCERN? MLB Network's Ken Rosenthal said Clark's statement "reflects the continuing tension between the sides, tension that shows no sign of abating anytime soon." There is "so much friction right now that any little spark can set off" Clark and the union and "that’s where the game is that this moment." If the MLBPA has a "real problem, they can file a grievance and again press forward with charges of collusion." But they have only "whispered about this" so far. With the CBA two years away from expiring, this is the "kind of thing that just is unsettling for everyone who follows the sport" (“MLB Tonight,” MLB Network, 11/6).
JUST DOING HIS JOB: ESPN Radio's Trey Wingo said Clark is "using what he sees as an opening for leverage for him." Anthopoulos with his comments gave the MLBPA an "opening," and it is Clark's "job to be as aggressive as he can and swing as hard as he can to try and improve lives of his players" (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 11/7). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown writes Clark is "doing his job, keeping the gate." The union and the players "sense more of the same coming" this offseason, and they are "sensitive to all the words, all the phrasing, all the smoke that reminds them something feels unfair, all the evidence that seems just out of their reach" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 11/7).
TWITTER REAX: Forbes' Phil Rogers: "I get it that Braves probably aren’t acting 'in concert' w/other teams but I understand union’s position. Bad optics, at a minimum." NBC Sports' Craig Calcaterra: "I'm not saying that that Anthopoulos provided some smoking gun of collusion. But do not, under any circumstances, believe that today's way, way more smart and sophisticated operators in front offices and MLB would not couch collusive behavior as 'pragmatic innovation.'" Baseball Prospectus Editor-in-Chief Craig Goldstein: "Do I think Anthopoulos was actually discussing free agent plans with other teams? Not really. I think probably they discussed trades and maybe someone says 'we can go get that in FA.' Probably just poor word choice at the time. It should also be looked into. It's not complicated." Sports writer Dan Clark: "MLBPA's investigation ... is nothing more than a witch hunt and grandstanding."