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Yankees owners give Brian Cashman a blank check for Gerrit Cole

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ESPN’s Jeff Passan reports that the ownership of the New York Yankees have given general manager Brian Cashman approval to offer Gerrit Cole a record deal. Basically, he has a blank check to go get their man.

The question is whether money is enough.

Cole, as you may recall, was drafted by the Yankees in 2008 but chose go to college at UCLA. Sure, a lot of guys go to college in order to up their draft stock — and Cole was, in 2011, the first overall draft pick by the Pirates, so he accomplished that mission — but Cole was still a first round pick in 2008. Normally it’s later-round guys who go back to school after getting selected. Some in the New York press have suggested that part of his decision to go back to college was because he didn’t want to be in the Yankees’ organization.

I’m not sure about that — again, the chance to be the number one overall pick got Cole more cash — but there has been a lot of chatter that Cole, a native of Southern California, wants to return there on what will no doubt be a record deal for a starting pitcher. The Angels have been mentioned prominently as a suitor. Some think the Dodgers will come to the table before it’s said and done. It’d be something of a shock if, a year after giving Manny Machado a $300 million contract, San Diego ponied up the kind of money Cole is expected to command, but even the Padres seem to be going for it right now. It’s still early and there are still a lot of moving parts.

Either way, the Yankees’ big wallet and, apparently, their big willingness to go all-in for Cole, will no doubt set the tone here. Executives told Passan that the bidding for Cole figures to “reach well beyond $250 million-plus.”

The Yankees met with Cole on Tuesday. There is not yet an offer on the table. They tend to roll this stuff a bit slower than other teams. But they will likely be in the Gerrit Cole Sweepstakes until the very end.

MLBPA: MLB’s ‘demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected’

Rob Manfred and Tony Clark
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On Thursday evening, the Major League Baseball Players Association released a statement regarding ongoing negotiations between the owners and the union. The two sides continue to hash out details concerning a 2020 season. The owners want a shorter season, around 50 games. The union recently proposed a 114-game season that also offered the possibility of salary deferrals.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark said that the union held a conference call that included the Executive Board and MLBPA player leaders. They “resoundingly rejected” the league’s “demand for additional concessions.”

The full statement:

In this time of unprecedented suffering at home and abroad, Players want nothing more than to get back to work and provide baseball fans with the game we all love. But we cannot do this alone.

Earlier this week, Major League Baseball communicated its intention to schedule a dramatically shortened 2020 season unless Players negotiate salary concessions. The concessions being sought are in addition to billions in Player salary reductions that have already been agreed upon.

This threat came in response to an Association proposal aimed at charting a path forward. Among other things, Players proposed more games, two years of expanded playoffs, salary deferrals in the event of a 2020 playoff cancellation, and the exploration of additional jewel events and broadcast enhancements aimed at creatively bringing our Players to the fans while simultaneously increasing the value of our product. Rather than engage, the league replied it will shorten the season unless Players agree to further salary reductions.

Earlier today we held a conference call of the Association’s Executive Board and several other MLBPA Player leaders. The overwhelming consensus of the Board is that Players are ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions that could affect the health and safety of not just themselves, but their families as well. The league’s demand for additional concessions was resoundingly rejected.

Important work remains to be done in order to safely resume the season. We stand ready to complete that work and look forward to getting back on the field.

As per the current agreement signed in March, if there is a 2020 season, players will be paid on a prorated basis. Thus, fewer games means the players get paid less and the owners save more. MLB has threatened to unilaterally set a 2020 season in motion if the two sides cannot come to terms. It should come as no surprise that the union has responded strongly on both fronts.

There have been varying reports in recent days over the confidence in a 2020 season happening. The MLBPA’s statement tonight doesn’t move the needle any; it simply affirms that the union remains steadfast in its goal to avoid a second significant cut in salaries.

As I see it, the ball is in the owners’ court. The owners can strongarm the players into a short season, saving money but significantly increasing the odds of a big fight in upcoming collective bargaining agreement negotiations. Or the owners can eat more of a financial loss, agreeing to a longer season than they feel is comfortable. The latter would have the double benefit of not damaging overall perception of the sport and would not disrupt labor peace going forward.

The MLBPA statement included a declaration that the players are “ready to report, ready to get back on the field, and they are willing to do so under unprecedented conditions.” If there is no 2020 season, we will have only the owners to blame, not the players.

Update: Cardinals pitcher Jack Flaherty, who has been quite vocal on social media about these negotiations, chimed in: