Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the MLB Players Association has filed a grievance on behalf of Carter Stewart, the Braves’ first-round selection (No. 8 overall) in the 2018 draft. The Braves did not sign Stewart in part because of a physical that gave them cause for concern. MLB set the slot value for No. 8 at $4,980,700 million. In order to qualify for draft pick compensation for failing to sign their first-rounder, the Braves would have had to have offered Stewart 40 percent of slot value, or a minimum of $1,992,280. According to the grievance, they did not.
Stewart now faces having to enroll at a junior college before reentering the draft in 2019. He and his agent Scott Boras seek instead for him to be made a free agent, which would be a more lucrative endeavor as he would be able to negotiate personally with any interested team rather than those who have the requisite bonus pool. Per Rosenthal, Stewart is believed to be a long shot to win his case. The case was heard before an arbitration panel in New York last Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday and will resume at a later date.
Rosenthal also notes that the Stewart situation had a ripple effect on the Braves as they also failed to sign pitcher Zack Hess, selected in the 34th round. The Braves had planned to sign Stewart below slot and Hess above slot.
Earlier today the Major League Baseball Umpire’s Association made multiple posts on social media registering its displeasure at what it feels was the league’s weak discipline of Manny Machado following his run-in with umpire Bill Welke. It was an unusual statement, as it’s not common for umpires, individual or via their union to comment on such matters.
This evening, in an official statement, the league called it inappropriate:
“Manny Machado was suspended by MLB Chief Baseball Officer Joe Torre, who considered all the facts and circumstances of Machado’s conduct, including precedent, in determining the appropriate level of discipline. Mr. Machado is appealing his suspension and we do not believe it is appropriate for the union representing Major League Umpires to comment on the discipline of players represented by the Players Association, just as it would not be appropriate for the Players Association to comment on disciplinary decisions made with respect to umpires. We also believe it is inappropriate to compare this incident to the extraordinarily serious issue of workplace violence.”
That final bit, about workplace violence, is something that I didn’t really consider when I read the umps’ statements, but it’s a damn good point. In an age where people are literally shooting up workplaces, umpires making reference to that kind of thing in response to a player throwing a bat is pretty rich indeed. And in pretty poor taste.