We’re starting to see some drama unfold between the players and the owners. Spring training is just a week away but players like J.D. Martinez, Jake Arrieta, Mike Moustakas remain unsigned. Earlier today, MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that teams are in a “race to the bottom” that represents “a fundamental breach of trust between a team and its fans” that “threatens the integrity of the game.”
More shots were fired on Tuesday evening, this time between agent Scott Boras and Major League Baseball chief legal officer Dan Halem. From Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports:
Halem’s response, frankly, really doesn’t pass muster, especially for someone in as high of a position as he is. Halem chose to mock Boras instead of respond directly to his criticism. It’s the kind of comment you’d read at the bottom of articles like this, not hear from the mouth of an MLB executive.
The “information bank” to which Boras refers was set up between owners in the mid-1980’s so they could share negotiation information with each other, improving their leverage against players. In other words, when a team made an offer to a player, the information pertaining to that offer was stored in a database that was accessible to any of the owners in baseball. That information was not made available to players, creating a power imbalance in negotiations. The information bank was the focus of the final of three collusion grievances between 1985-87.
Boras is wondering how Major League Baseball, in its response to Clark’s earlier comment, was able to find out that “some” players have “nine figure” offers. That would involve teams discusssing contract negotiations with either other MLB officials or representatives from other teams. Boras is also saying that MLB publicizing to all — including all MLB teams — that “some” players have received “nine figure” offers is not effectively any different than a database in which offer information is stored. That’s certainly debatable.
Attachment 49 in the collective bargaining agreement, coincidentally authored by Halem, says the following:
This letter is to confirm our agreement regarding certain prohibited conduct by the Office of the Commissioner, the Players Association, Clubs, players, and player representatives (collectively, the “Covered Parties”) with respect to public comments about free agents, which is as follows:
(1) The Covered Parties may not (i) disclose to the media the substance of contract discussions between a player and a Club (including but not limited to the facts of offers, the substance of offers, or decisions not to make offers or to withdraw offers) until after terms on the contract have been confirmed by the Office of the Commissioner and the Players Association; or (ii) announce an agreement on a contract that is contingent on the player passing a Club-administered physical examination until after the player has passed that physical examination.
So it seems that Boras has some legitimate gripes with MLB’s earlier comment and Halem should address them directly.
Boras represents players and makes more money when they make more money, so he is on the players’ side. No surprise there. Halem makes more money and earns more praise when he helps MLB (and, by proxy, the owners) make money. This is, of course, a very simplistic summation, but they’re naturally opposed. One doing his job well means the other one likely isn’t. That’s why things are starting to get heated. There should be more and more shots being fired as representatives from both sides get more involved in this labor issue. Getcha popcorn ready.