Gordon Wittenmyer of the Chicago Sun-Times reports that the Nationals and Braves have expressed interest in acquiring Marlon Byrd from the Cubs.
Makes sense on one level: each team could use an outfielder. The Nationals have been searching for a centerfielder forever, and Byrd could handle that probably as well as Jayson Werth could. The Braves have moved their starting left fielder Martin Prado to third base to cover for Chipper Jones, meaning that Eric Hinske and Matt Diaz will be covering left rather than serving as bench bats as God and Nature intended.
Of course, the fact that Byrd had an awful year at the plate last year means that he’s no panacea. He’s 34, he’s owed $6.5 million and he hit 276/.324/.395 last season, so it’s hard to see how such a deal would look, what with neither the Nats nor the Braves likely wanting that salary or wanting to give up anything for him.
MLBPA player representative Max Scherzer sent out a short statement late Wednesday night regarding the ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. On Tuesday, ownership proposed a “sliding scale” salary structure on top of the prorated pay cuts the players already agreed to back in March. The union rejected the proposal, with many worrying that it would drive a wedge in the union’s constituency.
Scherzer is one of eight players on the MLBPA executive subcommittee along with Andrew Miller, Daniel Murphy, Elvis Andrus, Cory Gearrin, Chris Iannetta, James Paxton, and Collin McHugh.
After discussing the latest developments with the rest of the players there’s no reason to engage with MLB in any further compensation reductions. We have previously negotiated a pay cut in the version of prorated salaries, and there’s no justification to accept a 2nd pay cut based upon the current information the union has received. I’m glad to hear other players voicing the same viewpoint and believe MLB’s economic strategy would completely change if all documentation were to become public information.
Indeed, aside from the Braves, every other teams’ books are closed, so there has been no way to fact-check any of the owners’ claims. Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts, for example, recently said that 70 percent of the Cubs’ revenues come from “gameday operations” (ticket sales, concessions, etc.). But it went unsubstantiated because the Cubs’ books are closed. The league has only acknowledged some of the union’s many requests for documentation. Without supporting evidence, Ricketts’ claim, like countless others from team executives, can only be taken as an attempt to manipulate public sentiment.
Early Thursday morning, ESPN’s Jeff Passan reported that the MLBPA plans to offer a counter-proposal to MLB in which the union would suggest a season of more than 100 games and fully guaranteed prorated salaries. It seems like the two sides are quite far apart, so it may take longer than expected for them to reach an agreement.