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MLB will stop awarding prize belt to team that best suppresses salaries in arbitration

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Earlier this year, Marc Carig of The Athletic published a report on a belt, awarded as a prize at the GM meetings every year to the team that did the most to “achieve the goals set by the industry.” That’s code for salary suppression in arbitration.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark responded to the report, saying, “That clubs make sport of trying to suppress salaries in a process designed to produce fair settlements shows a blatant lack of respect for our Players, the game, and the arbitration process itself.”

The prize belt hadn’t been particularly well-known except by agents and various officials involved in the arbitration process. But following Carig’s report, it became emblematic of the labor strife within the sport. That’s why, as Carig now reports, the league will stop awarding the belt, saying it is not in their best interest to keep doing so. In other words: it’s bad PR.

The current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1, 2021. Many are worried that there will be a work stoppage, interrupting 25 years of labor peace. Along with arbitration, other sources of tension include free agency, suspicion of collusion, and the qualifying offer system. The odds that all of those issues and more are addressed satisfactorily seems low. The union got squashed during negotiations for the current CBA and won’t want to make that same mistake again. And the league knows better than to poke a hungry bear.

Report: Mets sign Brad Brach to one-year, $850,000 contract

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Mets and free agent reliever Brad Brach have agreed on a one-year deal worth $850,000. The contract includes a player option for the 2021 season with a base salary of $1.25 million and additional performance incentives.

Brach, 33, signed as a free agent with the Cubs this past February. After posting an ugly 6.13 ERA over 39 2/3 innings, the Cubs released him in early August. The Mets picked him up shortly thereafter. Brach’s performance improved, limiting opposing hitters to six runs on 15 hits and three walks with 15 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings through the end of the season.

While Brach will add some much-needed depth to the Mets’ bullpen, his walk rate has been going in the wrong direction for the last three seasons. It went from eight percent in 2016 to 9.5, 9.7, and 12.8 percent from 2017-19. Needless to say the Mets are hoping that trend starts heading in the other direction next season.