According to Marc Carig of The Athletic, Major League Baseball hands out a championship belt to the team that suppresses salaries through arbitration the most…whoops, to the team “that did most to achieve the goals set by the industry”. This all comes after two straight winters where free agency has moved at a snail-like pace, and with recent contract extensions to big names like Arenado and Trout, we are seeing many extensions being made before the current Collective Bargaining Agreement ends that take big pieces out of the puzzle from future free agency pools. The recent contract extensions seem to prove that players are unsure about the future of MLB and not so optimistic about the next potential CBA.
The league acknowledged the existence of the belt, saying that it is “an informal recognition of those club’s salary arbitration departments that did the best.”
Players like Sean Doolittle, Buster Posey, Trevor Bauer, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and others have all vocalized their frustrations with MLB and it’s free agency system over the past year. Cobb told USA TODAY Sports that it “was ridiculous. It was absolutely absurd. I have yet to understand a reason for it. Every single free agent this season outside of (Boston slugger) J.D. Martinez has struggled in some sort of way. That’s not the players’ fault; that’s Major League Baseball and the way they decided to do business this off-season.”
Trevor Bauer said “that they spent the last 10 minutes of the (arbitration) case trying a character-assassination” and that the labor relations lawyers argued “there was a sexual connotation with “69” and that “420″ is associated with marijuana use.”
Although to be fair, Bauer has always seemed a like a peculiar person by the typically stuffy standards in MLB clubhouses. In addition to his drone-flying shenanigans, Bauer once cut a diss track aimed at Miguel Montero.
Anyways, if you ask yourself if this is collusion, Sheryl Ring of FanGraphs says that “we can’t say with any certainty whether MLB’s actions are legally collusive, nor whether the MLBPA would have a viable claim based on these facts (of the championship belt being handed out), but that the “actions suggest that they may have gone beyond the role the Collective Bargaining Agreement defines for them in the arbitration process.” Ring concluded that “how the union chooses to react to these facts remains to be seen, but they could constitute a significant development in the game’s ongoing labor conflict, and could deepen the rift between the union and MLB.”
This championship belt does not make anything better between MLB and the players, so the players association is going to have to work hard to fix the damage already done. How they handle this issue here on out will go a long way towards fixing the trust.
Featured Photo Credit: Frank Victores/USA TODAY Sports
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