Collusion IV? The union is getting annoyed at ownership

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Once upon a time, baseball owners illegally conspired to keep free agent salaries down. Then they did it again. And again. And they were busted for it, hard.

Then, according to the union, they did it again, and again and again.  They were not busted for it in those instances — baseball owners are a lot more careful about those things these days and, admittedly, sometimes the players just don’t like it when the market isn’t insanely overheated and look for reasons why that is — but the union still watches them closely.

And, as Ken Rosenthal reports, they’re watching the owners again:

The players’ union, sources say, believes that some recent statements by club officials and other baseball employees violate the collective-bargaining agreement. Rules in the CBA state that team officials cannot communicate through the media the substance of economic terms discussed by players and clubs – the facts of an offer, or whether the club will decline to make an offer.

At issue are team officials are signaling through the media what players are asking for and what teams are willing to give them, thereby tipping off other teams about how high they need to go or, alternatively, how low they can go in making offers. Examples include Randy Levine’s comments about the kind of contract Rafael Soriano wants and unnamed executives’ comments about Josh Hamilton’s demands and how long a contract the Rangers would be willing to offer him. Rosenthal has many other examples.

I suspect that a lot of that is intended to signal stuff to other teams and constrain players’ markets. But I also suspect that there is no real way to make a case that it’s some coordinated effort like it was back in the bad old days of the 1980s.

Report: J.D. Martinez signing delayed by medical issue

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The Red Sox reportedly inked free agent outfielder J.D. Martinez to a five-year, $110 million contract last Monday, but there appears to be a slight hitch in the process. According to a report from Evan Drellich of NBC Sports Boston, the team is sorting through a medical issue that has delayed the signing. The specific nature of the issue has yet to be revealed, though Drellich adds that both the team and agent Scott Boras have involved additional medical experts in the process.

For what it’s worth, Martinez remained fairly healthy during his 2017 run with the Tigers and Diamondbacks. The 30-year-old outfielder spent six weeks on the disabled list after suffering a right foot sprain during camp, but managed to make a full recovery by mid-May and didn’t relapse once throughout the rest of the year. Of course, the medical issue holding up his new contract could be of an entirely different nature.

While spring training is already underway for the rest of the Red Sox, club manager Alex Cora doesn’t appear too concerned by Martinez’s absence — yet. “The thing I can do is my thing,” he told MLB.com’s Ian Browne. “My job here is to show up every day and get ’em ready.”