Dexter Fowler’s agent, Casey Close, is upset with the Orioles and the media over erroneous report

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Update (6:52 PM EST): Orioles executive vice president of baseball Operations Dan Duquette responded. Per Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun:

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Dexter Fowler became the big ticket item of the day when his reported three-year deal with the Orioles was never finalized and he ended up signing a one-year deal with the Cubs. The Baltimore and national media reports reported the deal in no uncertain terms. As Craig Calcaterra wrote earlier, he’s never seen anything like this happen in nine years of covering the sport. Nor have I, for what that’s worth.

Dexter Fowler’s agent, Casey Close of Excel Sports, is none too happy with the media nor with the Orioles organization. Close released a statement on Thursday evening that doesn’t hold back:

This isn’t the first time that Close has issued a critical statement. He did so regarding the Astros’ handling of the Brady Aiken negotiations in 2014.

Does Close have a case? If we apply Hanlon’s Razor, which essentially advises to assume ignorance over malice, then it’s reasonable to see a situation in which there was some degree of miscommunication between whichever source(s) within the Orioles organization communicated with members of the media. And the media, doing what they’ve done since social media became a thing, tweeted the information. 99 times out of 100, the information beat writers get is accurate, as we’ve seen countless times in recent years. Mistakes do happen.

If, as Vocativ’s Jack Moore notes on Twitter, an Orioles representative was leaking contract details to the media, he or she might be in violation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. That would be a whole ‘nother can of worms.

The situation gets even muddier considering the Orioles’ reputation for backing out of deals themselves at the last minute. Their agreement with Yovani Gallardo was reworked after they became concerned with the results of his physical. They also backed out of a deal with reliever Grant Balfour in December 2013 for similar reasons.

We don’t know all the details yet, so it’s probably best to sit on the sidelines and wait. The Orioles will likely counter with a statement of their own, and any of the writers who reported on Fowler’s deal with Baltimore could as well.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
LG Patterson/MLB via Getty Images
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: