Yesterday Buster Olney asked several anonymous executives what they would offer free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales if they had a need for them. There were extended quotes from the executives talking about their value in both dollar terms — anywhere from $5 million to $10 million depending on the circumstances — and on the factors that might go into it, including their injury history, their lack of a spring and things like that.
A little bit ago union director Tony Clark put out a statement decrying Olney’s story, saying it violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement and can harm the value of Drew and Morales. He went further, saying that Commissioner Selig should investigate and unearth the anonymous sources for Olney’s story and punish those who spoke to him for what he calls collusive activities.
Let’s unpack this:
1. Yes, that kind of talk likely does violate the CBA. It could easily constitute collusion, by having executives signal to one another what to pay Drew and Morales, thereby messing with their ability to market themselves to teams. In this regard, Clark has a legitimate beef; but
2. There is little or no way Selig, even if he is inclined to agree with Clark, would be able to figure out who said this stuff to Olney. Neither Olney nor ESPN are going to tell him, that’s for damn sure, because journalism doesn’t work that way. What does he expect? Selig to sue ESPN as a means of pressuring them to cooperate with Major League Baseball, thereby causing them to spill the beans— oh, wait. That is already in MLB’s tool kit, so maybe he could expect that. I dunno.
But I do know one thing: Drew and Morales’ value has been harmed far more by the draft pick compensation/qualifying offer system that the MLBPA agreed to a couple of years ago than any potentially collusive stuff appearing in Olney’s little story. If Clark wants to prevent that from happening to players in the future, he had either best strongly advise players to accept qualifying offers or else find a way to reopen negotiations on free agent compensation.