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Tony Clark decries an ESPN story in which executives speculate about Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales’ value

Apr 11, 2014, 4:05 PM EDT

Tony Clark AP

Yesterday Buster Olney asked several anonymous executives what they would offer free agents Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales if they had a need for them. There were extended quotes from the executives talking about their value in both dollar terms — anywhere from $5 million to $10 million depending on the circumstances — and on the factors that might go into it, including their injury history, their lack of a spring and things like that.

A little bit ago union director Tony Clark put out a statement decrying Olney’s story, saying it violates the Collective Bargaining Agreement and can harm the value of Drew and Morales. He went further, saying that Commissioner Selig should investigate and unearth the anonymous sources for Olney’s story and punish those who spoke to him for what he calls collusive activities.

Let’s unpack this:

1. Yes, that kind of talk likely does violate the CBA. It could easily constitute collusion, by having executives signal to one another what to pay Drew and Morales, thereby messing with their ability to market themselves to teams. In this regard, Clark has a legitimate beef; but

2. There is little or no way Selig, even if he is inclined to agree with Clark, would be able to figure out who said this stuff to Olney. Neither Olney nor ESPN are going to tell him, that’s for damn sure, because journalism doesn’t work that way. What does he expect? Selig to sue ESPN as a means of pressuring them to cooperate with Major League Baseball, thereby causing them to spill the beans— oh, wait. That is already in MLB’s tool kit, so maybe he could expect that. I dunno.

But I do know one thing: Drew and Morales’ value has been harmed far more by the draft pick compensation/qualifying offer system that the MLBPA agreed to a couple of years ago than any potentially collusive stuff appearing in Olney’s little story. If Clark wants to prevent that from happening to players in the future, he had either best strongly advise players to accept qualifying offers or else find a way to reopen negotiations on free agent compensation.

  1. clydeserra - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    yeah, not a hill clark should be dying on.

    If anything he should use those statements to must up his members support for fighting the QA system. It was broken from the get go. It is worse for players than the offering arbitration/type a/b system it replaced.

    • clydeserra - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:12 PM

      *muster

  2. onbucky96 - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Aw, boo hoo! Maybe tell Drew and Morales to find an agent that doesn’t bear the number of The Beast, 666.

    • dcarroll73 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:31 AM

      So if teams don’t approve of your choice of agent, then it is fine if they illegally collude against you, is that what you are saying? It would really be a shame if the Molly McQuires paid you a visit on some dark night, but, oh wait, that is in an alternate reality in which America still has a labor movement.

  3. tysonpunchinguterus - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:24 PM

    I’m sure he knows MLB will never find out who the sources were. However, issuing a statement lets executives know that the union is aware that such talk could be considered collusion and possibly sets the stage for a greivance being filed on behalf of both players, which could wind up getting them the money they (almost certainly incorrectly) feel they are worth.

  4. rbj1 - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:28 PM

    Pretty sure Buster Onley isn’t party to the CBA.

    • clydeserra - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:40 PM

      that is relevant how?

  5. barrybondsisthealltimehomerunking - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:33 PM

    If Morales doesn’t sign before the armature draft I know that he will no longer cost draft pick compensation, but will the Mariners still get a comp pick?

    • deep64blue - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:31 AM

      No – the comp pick is for him SIGNING somewhere else, you don’t get a bonus for vastly overrating the player and slapping a QO on him.

  6. xpensivewinos - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:52 PM

    I still say Drew and Morales have a colossal schmuck for an agent and at some point, greed will bite you in the ass.

    If the 14 mil qualifying offer wasn’t good enough for these middle of the road players, I say F&*@ ‘em. The same system that was willing to pay them 14 is now willing to pay them 5 or 10. The money was there, but Boras was just his usual greedy self and told his clients he could get them the moon and the stars.

    Clark should be more worried about Boras’ ego and the money he told the two union members to walk away from.

    • madhatternalice - Apr 11, 2014 at 4:56 PM

      It’s not the money, it’s the money plus the draft pick.

    • Wesley Clark - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      That is a very simplistic view of the situation. Did Scott Boras overplay his hand? In these two cases it seems so, at least so far. As maddhatter noted, it most certainly is a mixture of the money plus the draft pick. Other mitigating factors have to be taken into consideration as well. Morales has an extensive injury history, as does Drew. The salary plus the commitment of years they were asking from may have been the reason teams backed off. Risk/Reward and all that stuff.

      I know that Scott Boras is painted as this evil greedy monster, but would you not want an agent to get you the absolute best deal possible?

      • punxrawk124 - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:04 PM

        I hate this system the players end up getting screwed. Teams are extending qualifying offers they know players won’t sign in order to receive a draft pick which in turn prevents other teams from signing them. I say if you extend a qualifying offer that player should be able to sign the offer sheet at ANY TIME.

        This will help player movement and stop rewarding clubs who don’t want the player anyway.

      • 1981titan - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:20 AM

        Come on punxrawk124, get real, the only players that are getting screwed are the ones who had no idea of their real value. They had a $14 million offer on the table and rejected it. They had a chance to take it, but decided that was not enough. In reality they were not worth that much. Why should a team be held to an offer that was rejected when no one else will offer that. The qualifying offer is sufficiently high to prevent teams from offering it to all potential free agents. Boo to players who rejected a salary that was 3 to 4 times the average bloated Major League salary.

      • dcarroll73 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:45 AM

        Titan, I like punx’s reasoning. If it really was a good faith offer, then it should have to be open for a reasonable time. Certainly their presumed value did not decline between the time that the QO was made and the start of spring training so that would be a minimum date (maybe with an escape clause if the player had some sort of injury/accident.) Since veterans with the number of years required for these QOs get only so much benefit from ST (and as many vets get injured in ST) I think a more reasonable date would be opening day for that team. If they really made the offer in good faith, that should be no problem. I could see some sort of opt-out payment to be made in case the team wanted to go ahead and sign a presumed replacement, but it would need to be large enough to defer the games now being played.

      • deep64blue - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:33 AM

        It may be a mixture of money and the draft pick, but once that QO is made that’s the reality – you have to deal with that and Boras and his clients didn’t. They were offered contracts which valued them as among the top 125 players, they should have signed them in a moment, only got themselves and the agent to blame.

  7. tfbuckfutter - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:05 PM

    Remember that time he played for the Red Sox and he was REALLY awful, and then he somehow hit a triple and that was a sign that he was coming out of his slump and would return to his career norms and he ended the season with 3 HRs, a .207 average and a .556 OPS?

    I do, and I still want him to suck my balls.

    • 18thstreet - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:17 PM

      All-Star with Detroit the year before, .856 OPS
      With Boston? .556 OPS
      Next year with the Mets? .772

      He really sucked for the Red Sox. Was that ever explained? Was there something going on in his personal life?

      But I’ll say this, in the guy’s defense: going from Mo Vaughn to Tony Clark at first base (a couple years apart) made me believe (as I still do) that first base defense is one of the most undervalued skills baseball.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:28 PM

        He had a big role with the MLBPA even at that time and I remember them blaming distractions with the CBA negotiations (or something along those lines) for his poor performance.

        Either way. My balls. Both left and right. He owes me.

      • 18thstreet - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:29 AM

        I think he made it up to us.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BOS/BOS200410180.shtml

        We’re cool now.

      • tfbuckfutter - Apr 12, 2014 at 1:18 PM

        Haha.

        Awesome find.

    • dcarroll73 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:48 AM

      tf, don’t just pine away in silence. If you send him a really nice note and maybe some flowers, it might all work out. Best of luck.

  8. schmedley69 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:08 PM

    Anonymous sources have told me that Buster Olney’s anonymous source is actually his dog.

    • jsala02 - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:30 PM

      it was batting stance guy

  9. righthandofjustice - Apr 11, 2014 at 5:34 PM

    Doubtful anything MLBPA can do to renegotiate the QO system.

    It was spearheaded by Michael Weiner. Unless somebody dig up Weiner’s grave and find the evidence he colluded with Selig and the owners, mid to second tier free agents who are not superstars are doomed and probably will have to accept the QO for the next few years.

    • clydeserra - Apr 11, 2014 at 9:09 PM

      expires when 2015? that is not too far away in negotiating terms.

    • deep64blue - Apr 12, 2014 at 4:36 AM

      You are hardly doomed by having to accept a salary paying you as a player in the top 125 of Baseball, players need to stop over valuing themselves and problem solved!

  10. canadatude - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    Hard to feel sorry for a guy who turns down over 14 million just to play ball.

    • dcarroll73 - Apr 12, 2014 at 12:51 AM

      Even harder to feel sympathy for a bunch of billionaire owners who have been proven guilty of collusion a number of times.

  11. bigguy54 - Apr 11, 2014 at 7:50 PM

    I don’t want $14mill for 1 year, because I can get $15-20 mill for 3 does not add up. I understand the possibility of injury, but the amount they make in a 2 year longer contract is not enough to take the chance. is Boras afraid after the one year they will leave him, or is it just ego? Or maybe he does not want to spend the time negotiating contracts every couple years. Could that be it, it is easier for him to do 1 3 year contract then move to the next guy?

  12. observer82ab - Apr 12, 2014 at 11:17 PM

    Well apparently Tony Clark is wrong. If Morales and Drew were worth the money someone would have hired them. Pretty simply actually.

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