News & Notes: Letter to Yankees, Labor Impasse, Amateur Scouting, Bonus Pool Allotment, Gerrit Cole

Happy Monday, everyone. Over the past week or so, we’ve been treated to some non-negotiation baseball news. There was a draft, new rumors about sign-stealing schemes, and a 30-for-30 documentary about the 1998 home run chase. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that exciting, but it was pretty great for 2020 so far. I’ll take it. But, of course, the only real baseball story is about the labor strife. So it goes.

But first! I looked up last year’s box score from today’s date, because what else am I supposed to do? The Yankees beat the White Sox 8-4 in Chicago, improving to 42-27 on the season. It just so happened to be Chad Green’s best “open” of the year, too. He struck out six White Sox in two innings of work. He was officially not early season 2019 Chad Green any more.

Anyway, because why the hell not, here is some video from that performance:

Good stuff, Chad. Hopefully, we will all be back watching you make batters look stupid with one (1) good pitch. I sure do miss that.

Sign-Stealing Letter

This weekend’s big non-labor story concerned the Yankees, so it makes sense for us to start there. I covered that in some detail on Saturday, so check that out for more in-depth thoughts. The basics, though, are that a component of a lawsuit against MLB alleges that the league withheld key info from the public re: the 2017 investigation into the Yankees.

If you don’t remember, the Yanks were fined in 2017. That was announced in a press release, which the plaintiffs argue is different from private correspondence Rob Manfred sent to Brian Cashman. A New York Judge on Friday announced that the previously private communication is to be unsealed. Drama! Anyway, check out the post for more detail.

Today, Evan Drellich of The Athletic, who has been all over the sign-stealing story, reported that the Yankees and MLB will appeal that decision.

This was predictable – it’s standard procedure in matters like this – but will only add more fuel to the speculative fire here. For what it’s worth, SNY’s Andy Martino reported that the letter “did not say [the] Yankees engaged in sign stealing.” That tracks with my expectations, honestly, but it’s worth noting that Martino’s source is presumably from MLB or NYY. Both camps have a real interest in that public narrative, after all.

We won’t hear the end of this one until we finally see this letter, which I expect we will before all is said and done. That’s when we’ll know for sure.

Labor “Negotiations”

Here comes everyone’s favorite part of these roundups: the latest on the labor negotiations. Unfortunately, there’s quite a bit of news on this front from the past few days, including today. Here are the basics:

  • On Friday, MLB put out a proposal calling for 72-games and 70% of the player’s pro-rated salary.
  • On Saturday, MLBPA rejected that offer – correctly pointing out that it was the equivalent of offering six in one hand and two bundles of three in the other – and said that it was time for MLB to “tell us when and where” to play.
  • Today, Manfred went on ESPN and said he was “not 100% confident” that there would be a season. That’s because he says the union intended to “file a grievance that MLB had not tried to play the most games possible.”
  • At the same time, MLB said to the union that there would be no games unless the union waived any legal action against the league.
  • The Player’s Association, as unified as I can ever remember it, is having absolutely none of it.

Sigh. There’s a lot to say. Let’s start with the obvious: this is all so freaking exhausting. So exhausting. It is completely unnecessary, self-defeating, and frustrating. Anyway, let’s be tactical here for a second: MLB really screwed this one up. It’s unfathomable, honestly. They’ve done everything right (from their point-of-view) in recent CBAs and free agency periods only to screw it up like this.

As for the union, its move to stop negotiating was an uncharacteristically adept move. Remember, the original March agreement stipulated that both parties needed to work, in good faith, toward a season that would include as many games as possible. The players have transparently been doing so; the league is transparently not doing so. However, because MLB just proposed 72 games, it did concede that they could play more than the 48 games they would implement. In fact, MLB is threatening to play no games at all unless the union drops its potential “you don’t want to play as many games as possible” grievance. It’s holding that out as some sort of a checkmate, despite, well, you get it. Incredible. It’s a bold strategy, Cotton, and we’ll have to see how it works out for them.

Anyway, that’s what MLB’s tantrum today was all about. We will surely have more on this soon, but it’s a rough look for Manfred, that’s for sure. I’ll never miss Bud Selig (and neither should you) but woof.

It’s also worth noting that anti-MLB sentiment seems to be expanding even beyond my little bubble of labor-friendly baseball fans. It sure seems like Manfred, and the league, are losing both the tactical and PR battle to Tony freakin’ Clark! Imagine. Finally, I would feel bad that Manfred is joining other commissioner’s on ESPN’s “The Return of Sports” special tonight, but hey: you reap what you sow.

Amateur Talent/Bonus Pool/Scouting/

A few things from the amateur talent department, which I’ll just note briefly here since this is already running a bit long:

  • Teams can hold voluntary programs for draftees “that do not involve baseball activities if players are at club facilities for pre-signing physical exams.” (JJ Cooper)
  • The league officially moved back the 2020-21 international signing period from July 2, 2020 to January 15, 2021. It will end on December 15, 2021 at5 pm ET, with the delays because of COVID-19.
  • The Yankees’ bonus pool allotment for it is be $4,232,700. (Baseball America) Teams, unlike in the past, cannot trade any of this money.
  • MLB sent a memo to teams saying they should not offer so-called “exorbitant” amounts in any continuing education scholarship program while trying to sign undrafted free agents. (JJ Cooper) Does MLB even like MLB? many people are asking!
  • Finally, teams can begin amateur scouting again. (Kiley McDaniel) Some events resume as soon as Wednesday, so scouts will be getting back to work soon. (Some leagues, like the Cape Cod Baseball League, will not resume play at all this year.)

So that’s the rundown there. Don’t miss Derek’s breakdown of Austin Wells from earlier. My own take here is that I like the pick. The Yankees have no problem developing bats and he’s got a good one. He’s a consensus first round pick who may have even gone higher without some injuries, so nothing not to like in my opinion. Looking forward to following him.


Let’s end on a positive note, shall we? Everyone else might not want to play baseball, but there is one man who does: Yankees ace Gerrit Cole. Good luck watching this one and not getting fired the hell up. Gerrit Cole, in pinstripes (kinda). Imagine!

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5 Comments

  1. I’ve basically stopped caring about baseball-both the owners and players deserved to be smacked upside the head before they turn the sport into something resembling the final season of ‘Brockmire’

    • The Original Drew

      Why do the players need to be smacked up side the head? What is your beef with them?

      • This is the wrong time for either side, both of whom are not in need of more money, to be arguing when 20,000,000+ Americans are unemployed.

        If they cancel the season due to health risks that’s fine and probably the right thing to do but arguing about what is relatively a few bucks is just wrong, period, particularly the ones with long term guaranteed deals who will get far more money than they ever need in future years.

  2. I don’t miss Bud Selig but I won’t miss Rob Manfried a lot less.

  3. Mungo

    The downside to the letter is it tangentially drags the Yankees into a lawsuit that they’re not even a part of. MLB’s investigation may have touched on areas where the Yankees were completely innocent, or substantial proof wasn’t found, yet they’ll now be dragged through the court of public opinion on issues where there was no wrong doing, but MLB felt they had to investigate.

    Expanding that further, the Red Sox just received a slap on the wrist because MLB couldn’t prove they were guilty of certain infractions, although suspected they were. If they were outlined in a letter to the Red Sox, why wouldn’t that be released? Or why wouldn’t the letter outlining everything that MLB THINKS the Astros did also be released? The Yankees aren’t happy because they may get lumped into the cheater category with the Astros and Red Sox when in reality they didn’t do anything after the rules changed. I don’t blame them for wanting it blocked, even though according to the judge it supports their innocence.

    As for labor negotiations, MLB will now stall for several more weeks until they run out of runway. If MLB told the players to report in the next week, we’d have game by mid- to late-July, and that means a 50-game season would end in early September. That would open the door for the players to file a grievance that the owners never negotiated in good faith and that they could have played more games.

    I go far enough back that I remember when MLB had by far and away strongest sports union. It was even called the strongest in the world. It wasn’t that long ago. That union, led by Miller and then Fehr, made baseball players (and by extension all players in other sports) very, very wealthy. It’s only been recent that the union’s negotiating stance weakened. They wanted peace, hence Tony Clark was named to lead. We may be seeing signs it’s changed and that may have caught the owners off guard. About 18 months back, MLBPA hired Bruce Meyer as their new CBA negotiator. Meyer is not someone who is regarded as pushover. His hiring means the next CBA negotiations will be very difficult. There’s a strike likely brewing once the current CBA expires at the end of 2021. The players are now more unified than ever. To me, that’s all quite normal, because that’s the way it’s been most of my life up until the last two CBAs.

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