K-Rod and the Mets settle

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Francisco Rodriguez and the Mets have settled the grievance K-Rod filed after the team tried to make his deal non-guaranteed. The settlement: his deal is still guaranteed, but he drops his challenge to the Mets placing him on the disqualified list for the end of the 2010 season. That means he basically forfeits the $3.1 million he was owed for that last month and a half or so. He’ll be back on the Mets, deal in place, for the 2011 season.

Thus concludes a really weird chapter in Mets history.  I’m certainly no fan of K-Rod’s in light of this whole incident, and if the allegations about his history with his girlfriend that have emerged in preliminary hearings related to his criminal case are true, he can drop dead as far as I’m concerned. At the same time, I think the Mets approached all of this pretty poorly.

The Mets’ get-tough-stance with K-Rod was one of financial opportunism, not disapproval of his actions.  After the incident in the clubhouse, but before it was revealed that K-Rod hurt his hand, the Mets used him in a game. If he had not been hurt, they no doubt would have continued to use him in games. The extent of the punishment they would have leveled against him was that game or two suspension he served prior to his final appearance. The idea of disqualifying him and then seeking to void his contract — or, at the very least, render it non-guaranteed — was in no way a statement regarding his actual behavior. Just the results.

Nor do I know for certain that the Mets were even viewing it as some kind of stand against that behavior. I’m not accusing them of anything. It may be the case that the team merely saw this as a situation in which they were trying to recoup losses from a player who could not perform as contracted to and the domestic violence stuff didn’t enter into it at all.  I’m just saying that I wish the Mets would have viewed it as a serious situation before they realized K-Rod was hurt — I wish they would have considered his outburst, and not just his injury worthy of punishment — and acted to suspend him then.

I would applaud any team that wanted to take a stance against domestic violence, even if doing so meant going up against the union on what may have been a lost cause. I don’t think the Mets were doing that here, and that bums me out a little.

Bryce Harper will not be discussing his impending free agency with the media

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Bryce Harper is entering his walk year and it is widely expected that the Scott Boras client will, indeed, test out free agency next fall rather than engage in any substantial way with the Washington Nationals about a contract extension. There were some “casual conversations” between the parties in the early fall of 2017, but the Nats came away from that, quite reasonably, believing that Harper, who stands to land the largest contract in baseball history, will shop around.

For his part, Harper met the media on his first day of spring training workouts and let everyone know that, no, he does not plan to answer questions about his potential free agency every day between now and November. From MASN:

“Just want to let you guys know I will not be discussing anything relative to 2019, at all,” said Harper. “I’m focused on this year. I’m focused on winning and playing hard, like every single year. So if you guys have any questions about anything after 2018, you can call Scott and he can answer you guys.”

Makes sense. The alternative would be for Harper to give the same canned “I’m only focused on our next game” responses in front of his locker 150 times this summer, and that doesn’t serve anyone.

Thinking back to any other impending free agent’s comments about his free agency, I can’t remember a story along those lines which was worth much of anything. The genre generally consists of headlines which oversell an innocuous or offhand comment from a player as a means of guessing where his head is at with respect to his current team. I can’t think of any story in which a player, during his walk year, said something that concretely and definitively signaled his intensions in free agency one way or the other.

Reporters covering the Nationals who are curious as to how Harper feels about his current team at any given time would be better served just observing and inferring, with particular attention paid to how Harper and his teammates view the Nats’ competitive position as the season goes on, how they react to trades and stuff like that. There’s a lot of guesswork in all of that, but it sure beats trying to get a media savvy player like Harper to admit, after going 1-for-4 against the Phillies, where he plans to spend the next seven to ten years of his professional life.