Marvin Miller

Marvin Miller doesn’t know why the players agreed to HGH testing

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I liked to Shaughnessy earlier, so why not link to Murray Chass?

He spoke with former union head Marvin Miller — they’re bffs, you know — about the MLBPA agreeing to submit to HGH blood testing in the new collective bargaining agreement. Miller is perplexed by the union agreeing to this and to earlier concessions regarding drug testing:

 “I don’t understand the rationale of this. I don’t understand the rationale of a lot of things. It’s an unproven test. We don’t know the basis for this. I haven’t heard any rationale for this and there is no rationale for it … I understand Selig wanting it, but I don’t understand why the union would agree to it … It’s not a step forward … They didn’t get anything when they agreed to reopen testing when there was no reopening in the agreement to test. I can’t imagine anything appreciable to make you think twice about saying yes.”

Setting aside that Marvin Miller is 94-years-old and may not completely have his finger on the pulse of what’s going down in labor relations at the moment, he has a narrow technical point regarding negotiation tactics. You don’t, traditionally, give something up in this way. And he’s right that the HGH test is kind of a joke.

But Miller’s position is also some pretty old thinking when it comes to baseball labor relations.  What the union finally figured out — too late, but did figure out — was that there was a serious downside to the public thinking that everyone was on ‘roids. And that that perception was going to eventually translate to lower confidence in the game and ultimately lower revenues.

So, like Miller, you could just view this through the lens of owner-player politics.  Or you could see the longer game in which the players giving in on drug testing was actually in their own financial interests. And that’s before you talk about how, you know, getting on board with drug testing was the right thing to do anyway.

I agree with Miller that the HGH test thing is kind of silly — I’ve spoken about why before — but I don’t think you can give the union much hell for agreeing to go down this road, even if they’re doing it for reasons other than “HGH is bad, mmmkay?”

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.

Spring training will be slightly shortened in 2018

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - MARCH 15:  General view of action between the Oakland Athletics and the San Francisco Giants during the spring training game at Scottsdale Stadium on March 15, 2014 in Scottsdale, Arizona. The A's defeated the Giants 8-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Associated Press is reporting that the spring training schedule will be shortened by two days starting in 2018. That change comes as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, which was agreed to last month.

Specifically, the voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and injured players has been changed to 43 days before the start of the regular season, down from 45. For the rest of the players, the reporting date is 38 days before the start of the regular season, down from 40.

The change goes hand-in-hand with allowing teams 187 days, rather than 183, to complete their 162-game regular season schedule.

While just about everyone seems to be in agreement that the spring training exhibition schedule is too long, team owners are likely very hesitant to shorten that part of the spring schedule because it would cost them money. So they’re just allowing players to arrive to camp a couple of days later.