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MLB Notebook: Unrest in the Players’ Association, surprising roster moves ahead of Opening Day, and more

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Photo credit:© Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
Brett Holden
24 days ago

Unrest in the MLB Players’ Association

The MLBPA is experiencing unrest from within, as the players have asked the Executive Director, Tony Clark, to remove his second-in-command, Bruce Meyer. The Players’ Association would like to replace Meyer with former MLBPA lawyer Harry Marino, and things got intense. 
A group of players approached Clark about a change in a Zoom call after the players’ subcommittee received enough feedback on Meyer’s possible replacement. The MLBPA subcommittee is composed of eight MLB players: Francisco Lindor, Marcus Semien, Lucas Giolito, Jack Flaherty, Lance McCulers Jr., Ian Happ, Austin Slater, and Brent Suter
Jack Flaherty came out saying that he had a player reach out to him suggesting they should talk about Marino and meet with him. Marino used to work for the CAA agency, the same agency that represents Flaherty and Lucas Giolito. However, Flaherty maintains he had never heard of Marino until after a recent phone call.
According to Flaherty, the subcommittee confronted Clark about replacing Meyer with Marino and feels like he put some people in a tough position. 
On Monday, a Zoom call between Clark and “dozens” of players went down with a large portion of those players voting to replace Meyer in an informal vote. The meeting reportedly included “years of pent-up” emotion unloaded on Clark. According to ESPN’s Jeff Passan, at the end of the meeting, one player uttered “what the f**k was that,” to himself at the end of the meeting. 
Players are reportedly concerned about a potential value divide in the free agent market, specifically between the top-end free agents and the “middle-class” free agents. This offseason’s weird free agent market was widely discussed throughout the winter and it evidently did not go over quietly amongst players.
Kiké Hernandez said there was a pattern to team interest before returning to the Dodgers and suggested other players around the league were experiencing similar situations. Hernandez hinted at teams colluding with each other in order to get team-favourable deals on players who are considered more middle-of-the-pack producers. Meanwhile, players like Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Aaron Nola, Jung-hoo Lee, and Josh Hader all made $95 million or more on their contracts this offseason.
While the MLBPA and the players have made it clear they want a change from Tony Clark, Clark also made it very clear that it is his decision on who gets hired and fired, and he does not seem too keen on the idea of this apparent coup. 
Clark selected Meyer to be his executive negotiator and his right-hand-man, so seeing this dismay towards his selection amongst players is uneasy. But his decision may’ve been made easier by the subcommittee. Clark shared over the weekend that he was confirmed by members of the subcommittee that there are other issues the MLBPA needs to address first. 
Flaherty says he regrets the way things went between the players and the MLBPA and wishes the entire event had never happened.
There is an obvious rift between the players and the players association that will need to be resolved in the coming weeks. What will that outcome or resolution be? That is a great question. 

Shocking moves as MLB Rosters get finalized

The MLB season officially begins on Thursday and some pretty exciting names will be either making their Major League debuts or looking to impress with their new squads. 
Wyatt Langford leads these MLB debutants as he will be making the Texas Rangers Opening Day roster and will likely line up as their starting DH and batting clean-up. Langford has had a massive Spring Training, smacking six home runs, bringing in 20 RBIs, with a beyond-impressive .375 average in 56 at-bats. Langford almost got the call from the Rangers during their World Series run last season after cruising through the Minor Leagues. Rising through the ranks in the Rangers organization, playing in four different levels of the minors, rookie ball, Single-A, Double-A, and Triple-A and slugging everywhere he went. Langford ended 2023 with 10 homers, 30 RBIs and a .360 average across the minor leagues and only continued to slash his way to a roster spot in 2024. 
Another rookie who will make his Major League debut on Thursday is MLB Pipeline’s No. 2 prospect, Jackson Chourio. The Milwaukee Brewers announced Chourio will make the Opening Day roster despite only playing six games in Triple-A last year. Chourio had a great spring, slashing a .328 average and stealing two bases, showcasing his contact and speed. Chourio will likely not have the same type of impact as Langford immediately out of the gates, but he will be a very important part of the Brew Crew’s future, starting in 2024.
Along with the future of the league, some players stuck on a minor league contract have also made a place in their new homes.
Daniel Vogelbach will be on the Blue Jays Opening Day roster, as he really made an impact at the plate (and on social media). Vogey crushed three homers during the Spring, including one off Gerrit Cole. Cole was not pleased with the way Vogelbach rounded the bases, implying he took his time and admired the home run a little too much for a big-fly in March. Igniting the rivalry between the Jays and the Yankees is always a good way to make a true impression on the team, and partnered with his very obvious power, Vogey may be a missing part the Jays desperately needed in 2023. Now, I’m not saying he will have an Edwin Encarnacion-type season, but his type of power was desperately absent in the Toronto line-up last year. The Blue Jays will also have Joey Votto starting the season with the Florida Complex, giving him a little more of a simulated Spring Training. How the Jays will deploy all of Votto, Vogelbach, and Justin Turner remains to be seen, but slugging veterans are always a good thing to have on any young team.
Also making a Major League roster on a Minor League deal, is Cleveland Guardian fan-favourite, Carlos Carrasco. Carrasco spent 11 seasons in Cleveland before leaving the Guardians in 2021 to play for the New York Mets. Carrasco was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2019 and has struggled finding his footing again in the MLB. The Guardians signed Carrasco to a minor-league deal on February 1st, looking to earn his way back into Cleveland’s rotation; and that he did. An impressive 2.57 ERA in 14 innings with nine K’s along with an elbow injury to pitcher Gavin Williams, solidified Cookie’s spot with the Major League squad. Carrasco will even get his number 59 back as Ben Lively, who was wearing the number in spring, gave up his number for Cookie, and will change his number to 39. We love a good comeback story.
However, with these players making rosters, some players will not make a Major League roster to begin the year. 
The most notable player who will be sent to the Minor Leagues is baseball’s No.1 prospect, Jackson Holliday. Holliday had a smooth spring, bashing 2 homers including a grand slam against Toronto. He brought in six runs through his 45 at-bats and kept a consistent .311 average throughout. Unfortunately for Holliday, the Orioles’ roster and infield is packed with quality young talent. Plus, Colton Cowser, another one of the O’s impressive youngsters, will make the Opening Day roster, leaving Holliday as the odd man out. Although he will start in Triple-A, the former first-overall selection will eventually end up in the Major Leagues by the end of the season, barring anything crazy.
But it’s not just young players who will not start in the Majors this year. Numerous players were also released from their Minor League deals including Trey Mancini, Eduardo Escobar, Elvis Andrus, C.J. Cron, Drew Pomeranz, Danny Duffy, Dominic Smith, Shane Greene, Mike Moustakas, Sandy Leon, Kolton Wong, and Charlie Culberson, and will become free agents once again. 
There will be some more difficult decisions to be made and some roster-juggling around the league to fit some of these players into their roster, so there likely will be some more names added to these lists before Thursday’s Opening Day. 

Quick Notes:

  • Jordan Montgomery has reportedly received multiple long-term deals on the table. The top available pitcher is expected to sign this week as two teams have offered Montgomery with ‘long-term deals.’
  • DJ LeMahieu is set to start the season on the injured list. LeMahieu fouled a pitch off his foot in a game on March 16th and will have to miss the start of the season with a bruise. LeMahieu will undergo a second MRI on the foot this week.
  • Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos dies at the age of 94. Angelos led a group of investors to buy the O’s in 1993, bringing professional sports back to Maryland less than a decade after the Colts left for Indianapolis. 

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