Why players can't own a piece of the team

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Employee owenrship.gifI’ve always known that players can’t hold equity stakes in their teams due to the Basic Agreement (see paragraph 4(c) on p. 213 of this massive document), but I never knew why.

Today, however, Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus explains. Once upon a time Rogers Hornsby got a cut of the Cardinals, was traded to the Giants, and quickly found his ownership stake to be a conflict of interest. And it got worst when he went to divest, as the Cardinals tried to lowball him, leading to everyone in the National League having to chip in to buy him off.  As a result of all of that, the rule was passed and has been incorporated into player contracts and/or the Basic Agreement ever since.

The only exception: players can take a stake in the team with special approval of the Commissioner.  Goldstein speculates whether or a team could give a chunk of the team to a player with language built in to deal with any Hornsby-esque conflicts of interest and have it approved by Selig. He dismisses it almost immediately, however, which is probably sensible given that it’s not likely to ever happen.

The only thing I’d add is the notion of maybe offering a player a chunk of a team — or at least the option to buy a chunk of the team — that doesn’t vest until retirement.  I kind of doubt that would ever happen, though, because it would require something akin to financial transparency for baseball teams and they really, really hate that.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.