MLB Notebook: Players’ Association unhappy with pitch clock change, teams reluctant to play Scott Boras’ game, and more

Brett Holden
1 month ago

MLBPA looking to file a complaint against the Twins

Twins executive chairman, Joe Pohlad said the Twins will not “spend $30 million on a player,” and it may land Minnesota in hot water. Bob Nightengale reports the MLBPA is considering filing a complaint against the Twins and Pohlad.
Pohlad said on a local radio show with Jason DeRusha of WCCO-AM that the Twins are not in the market for one of the massive free agents still available. But this very clearly violates the rules of the new CBA. 
Page 345 of the CBA distinctly discourages comments about the value of free agents in the media, including dollar amounts and contract lengths. 
Similarly, none of the Covered Parties may make comments to the media about the value of an unsigned free agent, or about possible or contemplated terms for an unsigned free agent, regardless of whether discussions have occurred. The prohibitions apply equally to comments that are on and off the record, as well as to comments that are provided on the condition of anonymity or published without identifying the source (e.g., “an industry source”). 
The level of a potential punishment is unclear considering the current CBA was created in 2022. However, the process for filing a grievance is distinct. 
A violation of this agreement will be established only if the grieving party identifies the specific individual at the Club, Commissioner’s Office, Players Association, or the specific player agent or player who was the source of the comment.
Identifying the specific individual is easy. Pohlad is on record stating and revealing the Twins’ hesitation in signing a massive deal with any of the available free agents. If the Twins are found to violate the CBA, a panel will determine appropriate discipline and “award appropriate relief to remedy the violation based on Panel precedent regarding relief in non-Article XX(E) cases.”
While Pohlad did not identify specific players, the specification of the dollar amount could be sufficient. The CBA establishes some examples that could be deemed inappropriate media comments:
  • “Player X won’t receive anything longer than a one-year deal.” 
  • “Player X is seeking more than Player Y received.”
  • “We are out on Player X.”
  • “Player X is worth at least $Y million.”
  • “Player X has contract offers from multiple Clubs.”
  • “We are unwilling to forfeit a draft selection to sign Player X.”
  • “We have concerns about Player X’s physical condition.”
  • “Player X is not worth more than $Y million, nor should he receive a contract greater than Z years.”
But, the Twins’ concern with spending more than $30 million on a player seems odd. During the winter of 2023, the Twins splurged on Carlos Correa, signing him to a six-year, $200 million deal, with the ability to reach a total of $270 million pending bonuses. The deal is constructed where Correa will make at least $30 million a year from 2023 through to 2028
After Correa, the next highest earner on the team is Byron Buxton, who signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with Minny, which equates to $15 million per year. 
There is yet to be a public comment from the MLBPA regarding the Twins situation, but they could set an example with Pohlad’s comments.

MLBPA concerned about new pitch clock rules

The MLBPA is not happy with the new rules around the pitch clock. In 2024, the pitch clock will be reduced from 20 seconds to 18 seconds with a runner on base after one year with the already new rule. 
The pitch clock was introduced in 2023 with mixed initial reactions. However, as the season progressed and the pace of play accelerated, the rule’s overall reception improved. But MLBPA executive director, Tony Clark, says the adjustment of the fresh rule should’ve formulated a more detailed consultation.
That’s a conversation that should have warranted a much longer dialogue than what we had.”
Clark says the pitch clock was “the biggest adjustment the this league has ever seen” when it comes to shortening games and is far from happy with the adjustments that have already been made.
Rather than give us another year to adjust and adapt to it, why are we adjusting again, and what are the ramifications going to be?
 The MLBPA claims they did “voice [their] concerns” with the new rule but insisted the MLB still pushed through the rule change. 
While the rule change has gone over relatively well amongst baseball fans, the very real and unfortunate nature of the clock is concerning to the players. Initially, the problem with the pitch clock is the limited ability of pitchers to recover in between pitches. 
In 2022, 23 of the 391 pitchers across the MLB averaged 15.0 seconds or less between pitches prior to the rule change. In 2023, that number jumped to 152 of the 386 that took an average of 15.0 seconds or less to execute their pitches. 129 more pitchers accelerated their pitch tempo in only one year. 
MLB super-agent Scott Boras says if they are going to commit to changes with the pitch clock, then changes to roster rules need to follow. 
I think we’ve definitely got to extend the number of pitchers we have on the major-league teams.”
Injuries to pitchers were down somewhat in 2023, going from 417 in 2022 to 405, but numerous pitchers attributed the pitch clock to their injuries, including Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Zach Eflin.
You’re going to be throwing more pitches in a shorter amount of time. And that’s going to cause more stress to the body.”
As an inning goes on and a pitcher delivers their pitches, the body begins to rely on alternative energy pathways in order to deliver the ball. The is only able to keep up with the exerted movements when a cell called creatine phosphate is present and available. However, due to the lack of time between pitches, the ability to recover and regenerate is limited. 
Rich Hill, who spent the 2023 season with the San Diego Padres, echoed this issue, (in a much simpler way), when talking about the accelerated clock. 
A pitcher might feel something, get a little bit tight during a pitch, and then might need a few seconds to walk around and kind of let that tightness dissipate. Now you can’t do thatIncreased injuries is a big concern.”
The new rules to the pitch clock only apply when there are runners on base; the pitch clock with the bases empty will remain at 15 seconds with the bases empty, for now. 

Teams reluctant to play Scott Boras’ game

Scott Boras has been the antagonist, (or protagonist if you are an agent yourself), of the offseason this year but he is not happy with the way teams are spending this winter.
Heading into the weekend Boras represented almost all of the top free agents still available, including Cody Bellinger, who finally decided to return to the Cubs. However, Belly’s contract came in about $120 million lower than many predicted at the start of the offseason with a three-year, $80 million deal and Boras is not pleased with this current trend.
Clubs have plenty of money to spend, but they’re not spending in a matter that is customary to competitiveness,” he said.
Boras claims this is a tactic to “regress” the team’s payroll, which very well could be the case. But, similar to the Joe Pohlad statement, maybe teams don’t value these players as highly as Boras does. 
Four of Boras’ clients still sit without a team and all four of them were some of the top free agents at the start of the winter. Blake Snell reportedly has offers but has yet to sign, J.D. Martinez straight up declined the San Francisco Giants, Jordan Montgomery recently met with the BoSox, while Matt Chapman seems to be far from being close to signing anywhere.
Bellinger’s deal with the Cubs could spell a much different conclusion to the offseason than Boras expected. Many expected, including Boras and his clients, that the patience would pay off and they would receive a much higher payment from teams desperate to get their guy. That is not what has transpired. Now, teams realize that Boras is in a tough spot and are likely looking to take advantage of that. A challenge that Boras has equated to aviation. 
I feel like I’m an airport controller trying to land these planes,” he said.
Well, Boras still has four of the top planes he still needs to land, but right now, all four are completely lost in orbit. (Is that more of a rocket thing? Just let it work, okay?)

Quick Notes:

  • Dodgers trade Manuel Margot to the Twins. Minnesota will send prospect Noah Miller, in exchange for Margot, who Los Angeles initially acquired in the Tyler Glasnow trade. 
  • Kiké Hernandez returns to the Dodgers. With the Dodgers freeing up a 40-man roster spot, they quickly fill that spot with fan-favourite Hernandez.
  • Pete Alonso is expected to test free agency next offseason. Mets owner, Steve Cohen says “[Alonso’s] earned the right to explore his value” and will likely not find a resolution before he hits the market. 
  • Brandon Crawford and the St. Louis Cardinals have inked a deal. Crawford, who was selected by the San Francisco Giants in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, will suit up for a different team for the first time in his Major League career.


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