The Tampa Bay Times reports that the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Oakland A’s, Miami Marlins, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays claiming they have failed to comply with rules of how they spend their revenue sharing money.
Clubs are obligated, pursuant to Article XXIV(B)(5)(a) of the Basic Agreement, to spend revenue sharing money “to improve its performance on the field.” That money can be spent on either major league payroll or player development. The grievance alleges that these four clubs failed to do that.
The Marlins, Pirates and Athletics either actively slashed payroll this past offseason by dealing away players or were relieved of payroll obligations by players departing via free agency or who were non-tendered while not replacing them with comparably paid players. The Rays have recently made a number of moves to get rid of players who were arbitration eligible and who received raises this past offseason. All clubs have received tens of millions in revenue sharing money.
Major League Baseball can impose penalties onto clubs that do not appropriately reallocate their revenue sharing profits for competitive purposes. The Marlins have been in this situation before. Back in 2010 the union lodged a similar complaint and Major League Baseball acted, resulting in the Marlins increasing payroll, at least for a time. A similar complaint was lodged against the Marlins in 2013, but no grievance was filed and nothing came of it. Unlike those previous occasions, it seems like Major League Baseball is going to strongly defend the clubs, telling the Times that “we believe it has no merit.”
If no resolution is reached, the matter will eventually go before an arbitrator.