Rob Manfred
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Report: Owners back off demand for international draft

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Ken Rosenthal reports a development from the Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations: the owners, he says, have backed off their demand for an international draft as a requirement for a new CBA. Rosenthal says that they did so out of a “desire to move talks forward.”

As we’ve discussed on several occasions, the idea of an international draft is a bad one. At least if you give a fig about the rights of amateur players and don’t believe that it’s more important for billionaire club owners to save a little money than it is for 16-year-olds from poor countries to earn what they are worth on a free and open market. The Players Union — whose membership does not include international amateur free agents — was assumed to be relatively indifferent to the idea or, at most, was thought to be prepared to use the international draft as a bargaining chip to obtain something greater for itself. Their opposition to the idea, however, proved to be surprisingly strong. Indeed, several high profile major leaguers showed up at bargaining sessions yesterday to personally voice their disapproval of the idea.

Rosenthal says that despite the concession by the owners, the CBA talks have not exactly barreled forward. He notes, however, that the final item which remains is agreement on luxury tax levels and that such matters are usually the final ones agreed to in CBA talks.

The current CBA expires on Thursday. While some have suggested that the owners could lock the players out if an agreement is not reached before its expiration, that scenario seems highly unlikely. After all, the owners’ resolve to do such a thing was reported to be weaker than it was to impose an international draft and we see how quickly that demand was dropped. That aside, the expiration of the CBA has rarely, in and of itself, signaled a work stoppage. Indeed, enitre seasons have been played without a CBA in place and have been so under far more acrimonious relations between players and owners than which currently exists.

Madison Bumgarner apparently hunts bears, too

Madison Bumgarner
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We welcomed “Mason Saunders” into our lives on Sunday, thanks to The Athletic’s Andrew Baggarly and Zach Buchanan. Mason Saunders is the alias of Diamondbacks starter Madison Bumgarner when he competes in rodeos, something he’s done as recently as December (when he was still a free agent).

Given that one of Bumgarner’s other extracurricular activities, riding dirt bikes, resulted in a serious injury, many have been wondering how the Diamondbacks would react to the news that the lefty they inked to a five-year contract two months ago is roping steers in his spare time. It seems like the Diamondbacks just accept that that’s who Bumgarner is.

On Tuesday, Baggarly and Buchanan answered some frequently asked questions about the whole Bumgarner-rodeo thing. They mentioned that former Giants manager Bruce Bochy, in a radio interview on KNBR, slipped in that Bumgarner also hunts bears in his off-time. Bochy said, “You think, ‘Madison, you’re looking at signing your biggest contract ever to set yourself up for life and you’re going to risk it on the rodeo?’ But he’s got confidence. I mean there’s some stories I do know that he probably wouldn’t want me to share, with him bear hunting, and the tight situations he’s gotten himself into.”

As Baggarly and Buchanan explained, when Bumgarner — I mean, Saunders — is roping steers, he’s not taking much of a risk. They wrote, “The header and heeler don’t chase the steer around the ring. Each trial is more or less a one-shot deal and it’s over in less than 10 seconds. If the header or heeler misses on the first attempt, then no time is recorded.” Bumgarner has also said he ropes with his non-pitching hand. Hunting bears is an entirely different level of risk, one would imagine. That being said, no one seemed to be surprised that Bumgarner moonlights as a serious rodeo competitor. That’s likely also the case that he, as Bochy puts it, goes “mano a mano” against bears.