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MLBPA hired a new chief negotiator

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Over at FanGraphs, Sheryl Ring wrote an informative article about a recent hire by the MLBPA. Attorney Bruce Meyer is the union’s new Senior Director of Collective Bargaining and Legal, which was announced last week.

In the MLBPA’s announcement, Meyer is touted as having “advised the players’ unions in basketball, football, and hockey on a wide variety of legal matters.” MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said, “With the experience and expertise he has gained from decades of protecting and advancing player rights, Bruce is uniquely qualified for this new role and will play an integral part in all that we do moving forward.”

Ring, a lawyer herself, says that Meyer is “by just about any metric, on the short list of the best trial lawyers in the United States and very likely the world — and he has experience turning around labor disputes for unions.” Ring adds that Meyer is “the only trial lawyer on the planet to have won the right of free agency for two of the four major North American sports.”

In other words, the MLBPA is gearing up for a fight in the lead up to the current collective bargaining agreement’s expiration date of December 1, 2021. We’ve covered various issues here since the current CBA was ratified, including service time manipulation, the qualifying offer system, and the recent stagnation of free agency. All will very likely be points of contention between the union and ownership. The arbitration system could also be subject to change, especially vis-à-vis service time manipulation.

In the time since the current CBA was ratified, the union has come off looking weak under Clark’s leadership. The MLBPA focused more on quality-of-life changes like more off days rather than fighting back on ownership’s expansion of power. Meyer’s hiring shows that the union has no intention of being a pushover at the next round of negotiations.

Meyer’s hiring, however, does not necessarily mean the MLBPA is preparing for a lockout. With Major League Baseball making money hand over fist, some of which indeed makes its way down to the players, neither side actually wants a work stoppage. But both sides will use the threat of it in what will amount to a game of chicken. With Meyer in the fold, the MLBPA intends to win that game this time around.

White Sox won’t make bid for Bryce Harper

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The White Sox won’t make a bid for free agent outfielder Bryce Harper, Bruce Levine of 670 The Score reports. Believed to be the favorites to land shortstop Manny Machado in free agency, the White Sox watched him ink a 10-year, $300 million contract with the Padres. The club is apparently content with its roster otherwise.

Harper would certainly be an upgrade in the outfield, which currently features Adam Engel, Nicky Delmonico, and Jon Jay. It will soon feature prospects Eloy Jiménez and Luis Robert.

Last season, Harper hit .249/.393/.496 with 34 hom eruns, 100 RBI, 103 runs scored, and 13 stolen bases in 695 plate appearances. He led all of baseball, drawing 130 walks. Harper is also a six-time All-Star who won the 2012 NL Rookie of the Year Award and the 2015 NL Most Valuable Player Award.

The Phillies are still believed to be the favorites to sign Harper and the club is confident it will land him, Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Daily News reports.