In addition to shortening the period in which a free agent’s current team gets exclusive negotiation rights, the September agreement between the union and the league sought to impose “restrictions on the abilities of the Clubs, players and agents to conduct their free agent negotiations through use of the media.”
What that means is anyone’s guess. I assumed it was aspirational more than anything else because, really, how is the league going to stop an agent or an assistant GM or whatever from texting a reporter about this, that or the other? If the policy does anything it will only make matters worse. Instead of having a bunch of anonymous stories coming from “a team source” or “a league source” you’ll simply have a lot more 100% unsourced stories or, at the most, stories that cite “sources.”
Which, while a problem when the story is about sensitive or important topics, isn’t something I care all that much about when it comes to silly things like free agent rumors. Those are ephemeral, relatively unimportant and more fun than anything else. And, ultimately, if a reporter or a blogger constantly whiffs on such rumors, people will ignore them anyway. It’s kind of self-policing in that regard. The league cares, though, and I don’t know that they’ll be happy with what results of their new policy.
But no matter how little the policy helps, it’s already a worthy one, because it gave Buster Olney a chance to use it as a means of slamming my buddy Jon Heyman. From Buster’s column this morning:
And the mechanism by which the Players Association and MLB would investigate media leaks is unknown; maybe these are rules put in place that both sides want the participants to enforce on their own, like an honor code. Maybe the greatest indication that we would see that the rules are actually working would be if we never see another “mystery team” tied to a Scott Boras client.