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MLB, Scott Boras fire shots at each other

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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.

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.”