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Scott Boras thinks J.D. Martinez was snubbed in AL MVP voting

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The finalists for the 2018 awards voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America were revealed on Monday. Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez was not among the three finalists for the American League Most Valuable Player Award. His teammate, Mookie Betts, as well as Mike Trout and José Ramírez were. The winner will be revealed on Thursday, November 15.

Scott Boras, Martinez’s agent, thinks his client was snubbed, per Casey Stern of MLB Network Radio. Boras said, “Every voter should be brought publicly into a forum and be taken to task for their negligence.” Boras also said, “There’s a complete breach of understanding of the value of the player.”

Boras is almost certainly just making a stink to draw more eyeballs to Martinez’s numbers this past season: a 1.031 OPS, 43 HR, 111 runs, 130 RBI (best in the majors). Martinez can opt out of his current contract after the 2019 or 2020 seasons. Making his 2018 production memorable is a small way Boras can add more leverage on behalf of his client if he goes in search of a new contract. It might make the difference between an exec focusing on Martinez’s age or his gaudy numbers. Boras is banking on the media picking this up and running with it based on his outlandish claims. Boras is well aware that 1B/DH types have found less and less success in free agency as front offices have integrated analytics to a greater degree. This is the kind of stuff that makes Boras such a successful agent.

MLB now trying to get minor leaguers exempted from minimum wage law at the state level

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In recent years, Major League Baseball spent significant amounts of money lobbying Congress to exempt minor leaguers from the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938. They succeeded last year, as minor leaguers are now considered seasonal workers and as such are not owed minimum wage or overtime pay.

MLB is not yet done attacking minor leaguers. Ben Giles of the Arizona Capitol Times reports that MLB is trying to get Arizona lawmakers to exempt players from state minimum wage law. A proposed bill, HB 2180, is being sponsored by Rep. T.J. Shope (R – Coolidge) and would protect MLB from lawsuits, past or present, for not paying minor leaguers at least minimum wage during spring training. Minor leaguers already do not get paid for their work in spring training, so this is simply a preemptive maneuver by MLB to protect itself from potential lawsuits. As Giles notes, HB 2180 would enshrine the exemption in federal law in Arizona’s state statute.

Shope said, “I think it’s just trying to clear up what MLB considers a gray area on their blank. … My assumption is they obviously do have a concern, and are trying to protect a flank of theirs more in the pro-active sense.” Talking about minor leaguers, Shope said spring training is “essentially a tryout. You’re not on the team yet.”

Garrett Broshuis, a former major leaguer and one of the lawyers representing Aaron Senne, Michael Liberto, and Oliver Odle in a case Craig wrote about here, spoke to Giles for his article. Broshuis said, “It really is just unfortunate, because the people of Arizona passed this law to require employers to pay all workers a minimum wage, and these ballplayers are performing a service that is a valuable service, and they deserve to be compensated at least the minimum wage for it.”

Broshuis is seeking class action status in a lawsuit against Major League Baseball in Florida and Arizona, the league’s two homes for spring training. Arizona is home to the Cactus League, the spring training league for the Angels, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Rockies, White Sox, Royals, Dodgers, Brewers, Athletics, Padres, Giants, Mariners, and Rangers. A federal judge denied Broshuis’s request but he appealed and is waiting on a ruling.

MLB makes a ton of money during spring training the same way it makes money during the regular season: by charging for tickets, concessions, merchandise, and parking. Minor leaguers are part of the player population helping attract fans to the ballpark, so they deserve to be compensated for their work. That they are not is criminal enough, but to brazenly push legislation to remove any legal remedies they might have had is even more evil. MLB has been setting revenue records year over year, taking in more than $10 billion last year. The league and its individual teams can afford to provide a comfortable life for minor leaguers, but every day it makes the choice not to do so out of avarice.