Rearguing the Curt Flood case

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Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s baseball bonafides are beyond reproach. A big Yankees fan from youth. The judge who effectively ended the strike in 1995. She knows her stuff.

So she was the perfect choice to sit in on a mock oral re-argument of the famous Curt Flood case, which sought to end the reserve clause and grant the players free agency.  Flood lost that round, of course, but it paved the way for the institution of free agency a few years later.

NPR has the story about it here. This exchange made me chuckle. Remember: they’re pretending it’s 1972 and the consequences of free agency are yet unknown:

Sotomayor, in mock horror, said that if the antitrust exemption were abolished and owners could no longer collude to set player salaries at will, the Yankees might have to pay Reggie Jackson $1 million a year!

Worse, replied Karlan, would be if the Yanks paid Alex Rodriguez a quarter of a billion dollars not to play.

“I can’t imagine such a thing!” answered a shocked Sotomayor.

She also gets a dig in at the Red Sox’ World Series drought, which was probably fun for her.  It’s also clear that if Sotomayor was on the court in 1972 she would not have joined the majority in upholding the reserve clause.  Too bad she wasn’t.

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”