Labor talks: Now baseball is just rubbing it in

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The NFL labor situation turned apocalyptic on Friday, with talks breaking off, lawsuits being filed and rhetoric being unleashed that will take months to walk back before real progress can be made.  In light of this, it’s almost as if baseball is gloating, what with it being ahead of schedule in its efforts to get a new collective bargaining agreement in place. Barry Bloom of MLB.com:

The second round of collective bargaining between officials for Major League Baseball and the Players Association will occur sometime during the next few weeks in the Phoenix area, Michael Weiner, the union’s executive director, said on Sunday morning after meeting with the Rangers.

The two sides had an amicable meeting in Florida on March 2, and Weiner said he hopes that regular sessions occur once the season begins on March 31.

“In 2006 we didn’t really get into that sort of rhythm until sometime in June,” Weiner said. “I think we’ll be able to do that sooner this time.”

Both Weiner and Bud Selig wax cautiously yet optimistically, citing that “whole range of issues” thing we’ve heard before as opposed to anyone citing one issue that looks to be a sticking point.  Indeed, the lack of a single contentious issue is probably the biggest reason we’ll get a new CBA with very little strife.

Which has me rather contemplative about Bud Selig’s legacy.  The 1994-95 work stoppage that cost us the World Series is, in my view, primarily his doing and it should be in the first paragraph of his Hall of Fame plaque that — whether we like it or not — he will almost certainly be given one day.

But at the same time, he has also presided over what has been an unprecedented era of labor peace. At least unprecedented since the days when the owners treated players like chattel and the players didn’t say much about it.  Assuming this deal gets done, the game will have gone over 20 years without a work stoppage and over 12 years since there was even any contentiousness to speak of.

Bud can’t be forgiven for the strike.  But the hard lesson he learned from it has certainly informed his approach since then. And that’s to his credit, I think.

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.