The Major League Baseball Players Association’s weaknesses were often discussed in analysis as the 2017 free agency period developed. The union must have absorbed some of the criticism from the corner it had backed itself into because it finally made a move.
Wednesday, the Tampa Bay Times reported the MLBPA filed a grievance with MLB targeting four revenue sharing recipients — the Rays, the Athletics, the Pirates, and the Marlins — for not complying with collective bargaining agreement rules specifying how revenue sharing money is to be used.
The CBA states “each Club shall use its revenue sharing receipts (including any distributions from the Commissioner’s Discretionary Fund) in an effort to improve its performance on the field.” So, what the MLBPA must prove is the four named teams did not use its money to improve on-field performance. The whole thing, typical of legal matters, is sticky.
The union will have to make a unique case against each of the teams. For example, though the Rays shipped off Evan Longoria and company, they also added players like Denard Span and high-ranking prospects like Christian Arroyo. The Pirates traded away big contracts, too, but they also added prospects and claimed to have sunk money into their player development system. The Athletics, on the other hand, accused of pocketing revenue sharing money in 2016 and thus beginning to be phased out of the program under the CBA, had a quiet offseason. The Marlins, made to raise payroll and divide their shares with the MLBPA in 2010, only brought on minor league contracts and traded everyone who has ever come within 100 yards of Marlins Park.
A party popper failing to pop is one of the more disappointing of the noisemaker malfunctions. The puller of the string tenses up in anticipation, and then when nothing comes, the tension is deflated instead of popped. That’s a bit like what this past offseason was. The drought of free agent signings left the remnants of frustration and rightfully brought on criticism of the MLBPA as talk of collusion swirled. Though at this point in the process, likely outcomes haven’t revealed themselves yet, we do know MLB will probably push this before an arbitrator, as they responded by saying the grievance is without merit. We also know that the MLBPA technically did something to hold the billionaire owners to their share of the responsibility for baseball’s poor economic state for the players.
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- Tommy Joseph almost went to Asia, which is selfish because it would have made a great children’s book.