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MLBPA releases statement denying threat of a spring training boycott

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In a column for The Athletic published on Friday, Ken Rosenthal reported that players asked union officials in a conference call about collectively refusing to report to spring training until February 24, the mandatory reporting date. Union officials said that would constitute an unlawful strike in violation of the CBA, so the players put the kibosh on the idea.

Just to make things clear, the MLBPA released a statement on Sunday clarifying that the union isn’t threatening or recommending any such boycott.

In the past week or so, we’ve seen some agents (Brodie Van Wagenen and Josh Kusnick) and some players (Kenley Jansen) make some public comments regarding the current situation that finds many free agents teamless with spring training on the horizon. It was Van Wagenen in particular who threw out the idea of a spring training boycott, writing, “There is a rising tide among players for radical change. A fight is brewing. And it may begin with one, maybe two, and perhaps 1,200 willing to follow. A boycott of Spring Training may be a starting point, if behavior doesn’t change.”

Players and agents can go rogue all they want, but as a cohesive group, the union wants to make sure all the i’s are dotted and all the t’s are crossed, so to speak, when it’s going up against ownership. As Craig pointed out on Twitter, players and agents are only “going rogue” because they feel like their voices are not currently being adequately represented by the union. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that one player wanted to make a mockery of the arbitration process by filing for a salary figure ending in 420,069. The player ultimately decided against doing that. Other players have suggested starting their own free agent spring training camp.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021. That’s a long time from now. The owners and the players are going to eventually have to work together to bring balance back to the marketplace. Passan quotes an unnamed longtime agent saying, “The war drums today are louder than they were in 1993. There is anger. Real anger.”

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.”