Nov 15, 2019

Labor unrest lurks as free agency begins in the MLB

Expand chart
Data: FanGraphs; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

"The holiday shopping season is upon us, and what better way to bring cheer than by signing a free agent." MLB teams will be looking to do just that in the coming weeks.

Yes, but: We could be in for another long, cold winter, as many of the same forces that made last year's free agency so frustratingly slow are still at play.

  • Last week, Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos made some questionable comments on a conference call, saying that Atlanta "had time to connect with 27 of the clubs … to get a sense of what [they] are going to look to do in free agency." (He later said he misspoke.)
  • MLBPA boss Tony Clark fired back, saying that Anthopoulos' comments "call[ed] into question the integrity of the entire free-agency system. The clear description of club coordination is egregious."
  • Meanwhile, baseball's current labor agreement is set to expire after the 2021 season and a work stoppage feels imminent given the relations between the union and management.

The bottom line: "It is within this strained atmosphere that baseball's offseason talent marketplace will play out," writes WashPost's Dave Sheinen.

  • "Business will go on, with 30 teams still hoping to address various needs and dozens of players still in need of new homes by Opening Day. But the labor unrest will never be far from the surface."

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Small cities fight back against MLB proposal to cut minor league teams

Reggie Lawson of the Peoria Javelinas. Photo: Buck Davidson/MLB Photos via Getty Images

Small cities around the country are fighting a Major League Baseball restructuring proposal that would cut the league's association with 42 minor league teams, AP reports.

Why it matters: The cities argue that the teams are a vital part of their communities — and some have invested significant municipal funds in stadium construction and upgrades to draw in fans.

Go deeperArrowNov 27, 2019

Marvin Miller, Ted Simmons elected into Baseball Hall of Fame

Marvin Miller, speaking in 1972. Photo: Bettmann/Getty Images

Last night, the Baseball Hall of Fame announced that groundbreaking union leader Marvin Miller and former catcher Ted Simmons were voted into Cooperstown by the 16-person Modern Era Committee.

The big picture: Miller was head of the MLBPA from 1966 to 1982, leading the union through five work stoppages, overseeing the birth of free agency and bringing team owners to the table to hammer out professional sports' first collective bargaining agreement.

Go deeperArrowDec 9, 2019

MLB's plan to overhaul its minor league system

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As part of MLB's desire to overhaul the minor league system and streamline player development, it wants to sever its parent-club relationship with 42 minor league teams, entirely eliminating some and reorganizing others into a lower-quality "Dream League."

Why it matters: Major league clubs currently provide and pay for the farm club's players and staff, leaving the minor league organization to cover things like fields, equipment and travel.

Go deeperArrowDec 11, 2019 - Sports