In a lengthy column on the state of relations in Major League Baseball, SNY’s Andy Martino included an interesting piece of information: Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer and Rockies infielder Daniel Murphy constitute a small subsection of the MLB Players Association membership that feels marginalized for having a differing opinion from the majority.
Earlier this week Bauer expressed some “both sides” sentiment on Twitter about the protracted negotiations between MLB ownership and the union. MLB’s 60-game proposal was overwhelmingly shot down by the union. 38 members in total voted.
Bauer wrote, “It’s absolute death for this industry to keep acting as it has been. Both sides. We’re driving the bus straight off a cliff. How is this good for anyone involved?” In a follow-up tweet, Bauer said, “We’re doing irreparable damage to our industry right now over rules that last AT MOST 16 months. WTF kind of sense does that make?” Bauer also added, “I have so much more I want to say about this whole thing but out of respect to my fellow players I’m going to continue holding my tongue. If any of you would like to talk about it please hit me up privately.” Bauer went on to have two very public arguments with Aubrey Huff and Curt Schilling on Twitter.
Bauer has always marched to the beat of his own drum. He was one of the first players to truly welcome analytics with open arms. He has repeatedly said he will never sign a multi-year contract, instead going year-to-year to both maximize his earning potential and to limit the risk taken on by other teams. He has injured himself with drones on multiple occasions. He’s gone after MLB’s antiquated arbitration system. He has also repeatedly gone after some of his mildest critics. That Bauer would step out of line with the union that represents his best interests has always been the modal outcome.
To be clear, the MLBPA is not above criticism and, in fact, has been deserving of criticism for quite some time. It’s not Bauer’s specific criticism that is the issue here, however; it’s that he’s airing his grievances publicly at a time the union is trying to galvanize solidarity within its ranks and will continue to be engaged with the owners in negotiations over the next 17 months leading up to the expiry of the current collective bargaining agreement. In-fighting has been the downfall of many a union. It reduces bargaining power, weakens solidarity, and can be distracting for the representatives as well as the members they represent.
The MLBPA represents over a thousand active players. They will never reach 100 percent agreement among its membership. There will always be conflict and disagreement. However, the union democratically arrived at the conclusion that an overwhelming majority wanted to reject MLB’s deal, which is why 33 of 38 (87%) representatives voted against it. If Bauer still feels strongly about the issue, he can privately discuss it with MLBPA leadership and his peers to try to change their minds. Bauer complaining on social media and leaking details to members of the media is the wrong way to go about the issue. It is self-sabotage.