Donald Fehr could return as MLBPA head due to Michael Weiner’s health

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Jeff Passan of Yahoo! reports that an old face could come back to the players’ union:

With the condition of cancer-stricken union chief Michael Weiner not improving, MLB Players Association officials have discussed the possibility of a return of his predecessor, NHLPA director Donald Fehr, sources told Yahoo! Sports.

Fehr’s possible return — in some role, be it advisor, leader or something altogether different — would be very strange. He led the union at a very different time and when the issues between it and the league were very different. More significantly, the tone of the relationship was much different. It was often combative, and necessarily so given the times in which he ran the show. Part of his transition out of the MLBPA and the ascension of Michael Weiner, in my view, was an acknowledgement that those great battles of the past were over and a new, more collaborative effort was what was needed.

Fehr, of course, has gone on to lead the NHL player’s union, where battling was and continues to be more of the order of the day. As Passan notes, there is no indication that he’s ready to leave that job and no comment from anyone involved as to whether he’d come to assist the union.

The bigger takeaway here, however, is Weiner’s health. I’ve never met the man but all accounts of him I’ve ever heard have been incredibly positive. He’s a smart and thoughtful leader, well respected by his coworkers, the players he represents and the league with which he negotiates and, occasionally does battle.

Here’s hoping his battle with cancer is a successful one and that the reports of someone needing to take his place prove to be wrong.

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.