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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.

Yankees place Aaron Judge (strained calf) on IL

Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK — Yankees star Aaron Judge was placed on the injured list with a right calf strain before Friday night’s game against Boston and manager Aaron Boone is optimistic the outfielder will not miss significant time.

The move was retroactive to Wednesday and Boone described the strain as mild after an MRI revealed the injury. To replace Judge on the roster, Thairo Estrada was recalled from the Yankees’ alternate site in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Judge began Friday leading the majors with nine homers and tied with Colorado’s Charlie Blackmon for the major league lead with 20 RBIs.

“It’s something that I think he really wants to try and work through here and kind of wants to be out here and feels like it’s a day-to-day thing which it may very well be, but I just think obviously it goes without saying how important a player Aaron is to us,” Boone said.

Boone had said last weekend’s series on the artificial turf in Tampa Bay took its toll on the 6-foot-7 outfielder.

Judge joined Giancarlo Stanton as the second Yankees slugger to land on the injured list this. Stanton was placed on the IL with a strained hamstring after getting hurt in the second game of last Saturday’s doubleheader.

“We’ve lost two MVP-caliber players,” Boone said. “Obviously that is a blow, especially two guys that playing well as they are right now.”

Judge was pulled for a pinch hitter during Tuesday night’s win over Atlanta and didn’t play Wednesday. The Yankees were off Thursday.

The 28-year-old All-Star missed time during July’s training camp because of a stiff neck.

The 2017 AL Rookie of the Year hit 27 homers in each of the last two seasons, both of them interrupted by injuries. His right wrist was broken when he was hit by a pitch in 2018 and he went on the injured list for two months last year with a left oblique strain.

Judge was diagnosed with a broken rib in March and would not have been ready for the season opener if the season began as scheduled on March 26.