Heyman: Hank’s comments ‘clearest example of tampering’

On historic night, Pavano displays some irony
News on Cashman remains the same

Last week, Hank Steinbrenner raised some eyebrows when he told Newsday that the Yanks were “looking at” CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett. While these admission is hardly a secret, that Steinbrenner was willing to name-drop Sabathia, a free agent-to-be, and Burnett, a player currently under contract to the Blue Jays for more than the next few months, raised a few concerns.

In particular, Jon Heyman expressed his surprise at the announcement. The Sports Illustrated scribe called the remarks “the clearest example of tampering in recent history.” While Heyman admits that MLB doesn’t really enforce tampering rules, just this statement of fact on Heyman’s part got me thinking about Steinbrenner.

Hank is relatively new to the baseball scene and the New York tabloids. He also has the Steinbrenner tendency to run his mouth off whenever he feels like it regardless of who is around and what he’s saying. Not only is Steinbrenner tampering with Burnett — the Blue Jays’ pitcher is even more likely to exercise his opt-out clause now — but Steinbrenner is weakening the Yankee hand.

Sure, everyone knows that the Yanks want a top-line starter for 2009. Sure, everyone knows that the Yankees will have the money to overwhelm Sabathia. But by dropping the names, Hank gives more power to the pitcher. Reign it in, Hank. It’s bad bargaining business to give the other side so much information well ahead of any potential negotiation.

On historic night, Pavano displays some irony
News on Cashman remains the same
  • Geno

    Very true. It’s such a basic fundamental to bargaining that I wonder if somehow Hank & Hal have something up their sleeve. What that is, I have no clue.

    • pat

      im hoping its some way to screw the redsox into overpaying for burnett.

      • GRGOYLDEF2

        I certainly hope that is true. Plus we all know there was no tampering on the part of the Red Sox when they signed JD Drew.

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

          There was no evidence of tampering, it was 2 years ago, and its connection to this thread is tenuous at best. Let it go.

    • bill73083

      Part of me feels like Hank makes a ton of noise, while Cashman and Hal are behind the scenes making the real deals and bargains. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part that the Yankees have geniuses at their helm.

  • TurnTwo

    i dont see this as any different than the Johan sweepstakes, really.

    Hank proclaimed his love for Santana, and negotiations continued. but when the deal didnt make sense for the yankees, they pulled out.

    they arent going to be backed into any corner, whether the public knows what the organization wants to do or not. if something makes sense, and the yankees are comfortable, they’ll pull the trigger.

    if someone tries to hold them up for more years or money, or tries to use the organization as a bargaining tool and perhaps doesnt want to play in NY, they’ll have no qualms about throwing them to the curb.

  • Patrick T

    Maybe they only really intend to bring in Sabathia and Hank’s throwing out Burnett to make it seem like we’d be ok to walk away from him?

    Wishful thinking I suppose, I really hope they’re not interested in AJ Pavano.

  • Chris

    What is the definition of tampering?

    Why is it tampering when Hank is reported as saying this, but when a reporter quotes ‘an unnamed source within the team’ it’s not tampering?

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      I don’t think anyone would argue that the actions of the “unnamed source within the team” are not “tampering,” but there’s a difference between the act occurring and the act being punishable. The actions of the “unnamed source” ARE tampering, theoretically, it’s just that, in practice, that situation is not punishable. You can call it tampering, but you can’t do anything about it.

    • A.D.

      it is, you just can’t punish an unnamed source, and there are probably sometimes that an “unnamed” source is essentially made up by the reporter

  • Brad Kraus

    Much to do about nothing.

  • http://nyyu.blogspot.com Mike @ NYYU

    Heyman is a Met shill.

  • Jake K.

    Given how well the Yanks organization did when George was suspended by MLB, I’m hoping Hank earns himself some disciplinary action as well.

  • Count Zero

    Hmmm…I would be inclined to agree on the CC comment, but…when it comes to Burnett, you might consider the fact that “the Blue Jays’ pitcher is even more likely to exercise his opt-out clause now” was exactly what was behind the statement.

    That is precisely why it is tampering — Hank sent a signal to AJ that he should opt-out because he will definitely do better by doing so. The reason that’s technically illegal is because it benefits us by ensuring AJ comes onto the market instead of staying in Toronto.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      … and AJ coming on to the market helps us tremendously, by either A.) being a viable FA target for us, or B.) deepening the pool of potential FA targets, and thus, giving us more leverage in our negotiations for our real target, Sabathia, or C.) giving our competitors in the pitching market one more option to consider, thus decreasing their likelihood to come with an over-the-top offer for our real target, Sabathia.

      I think any “leverage” we lose by talking about our interest in every potential FA under the sun is offset by the “leverage” we gain by talking about every potential FA under the sun. Remember, it’s a two way street… not only are we competing with 29 other teams for the players, the players are competing with each other for our roster spots and our money…

      And, seeing as how there’s a snowballs chance in hell that we get punished for the comments in any meaningful way, all around it’s a smart move by Big Bank Hank.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    I was going to ask this question when this topic was first mentioned (yesterday? two days ago?), but I hate to ask someone to do the research for me so I put it in my back pocket. I’m tossing it out there though, as I’ve found the tampering rule (Rule 3(g)) and tried to find my answer, but I still don’t have it.

    Does anyone know what the proscribed punishment would be if a team was found guilty of “tampering?” Is the punishment just left to the Commissioner’s discretion, acting in the best interest of MLB? If Hank, or anyone for that matter, were to be found guilty of tampering by MLB, what would be the repurcussions?

    • Geno

      We’d probably lose draft picks.

      • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

        To my knowledge, no team has ever lost a draft pick for tampering in baseball. Just fines and stern talking to’s… I don’t even think we’d be barred from signing the player we were accused of tampering with.

        Worst case scenario is Selig/Alderson fine Hank five-figures or so. No big whoop. (And fines are rare).

    • The Fallen Phoenix

      Historically, I think it tends to be a monetary fine, and nothing more than that.

    • MD

      they’d force us to keep Pavano….

      • jsbrendog


  • pounder

    I feel O Perez and D Lowe are fine options if the two or three glamour guys go elsewhere.

    • http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/CRsmithT1.jpg tommiesmithjohncarlos

      … for me to poop on.

      • jsbrendog

        yeah no thanks on both fronts, uh uh, no how, thanks for playing

  • steve (different one)

    here is the actual quote from Hank:

    “Everybody’s looking at Sabathia and Burnett, not just us,” Steinbrenner said during Thursday’s game against the Red Sox. “We’ll see. The main concern is, are their arms going to be OK after this season?”

    that doesn’t really seem as bad as Heyman makes it sound.

  • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

    That’s a quote from one of the principal owners of a baseball team, about a player under contract to another team, before the end of the season (let alone before the expiration of the contract and the start of the FA period). I’ll grant that the subtance of the quote isn’t too severe (i.e. it’s not like he said “hey AJ – opt out and we’ll pay you $15 million per over 5 years”), but the circumstances certainly lend themselves quite well to the conclusion that Hank’s statement was over the line.

    The man is a very public figure in the front office of the richest team in baseball. He needs to learn to bite his tongue and just not say things like that, whether he agrees it’s tampering or not. Heyman didn’t say Hank made an offer to Burnett or anything, he said it is “the clearest example of tampering in recent history.” I don’t remember an owner of any other MLB team making a statement like that (and I’ll readily agree that if someone else has made a statement like that then Heyman is wrong”) but in the absence of evidence to the contrary Heyman is right.

    • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi

      Yikes. That comment was in response to steve (different one)’s comment at 12:37 above. My bad, I forgot to hit the “reply to this comment” link.

  • blah

    Here is the MLB tampering rule:

    Rule 3 (g) TAMPERING. To preserve discipline and competition, and to prevent the enticement of players, coaches, managers and umpires, there shall be no negotiations or dealings respecting employment, either present or prospective, between any player, coach or manager and any club other than the club with which he is under contract or acceptance of terms, or by which he is reserved, or which has the player on its Negotiation List, or between any umpire and any league other than the league with which he is under contract or acceptance of terms, unless the club or league with which he is connected shall have, in writing, expressly authorized such negotiations or dealings prior to their commencement.

    This rule prevents baseball teams from negotiating or dealing with a player under contract with a different team. It says absolutely nothing about publicly discussing signing a player.

    Not only do Hank’s statements not qualify as “the clearest example of tampering in recent history,” they don’t even violate the tampering rule.

    If you are going to accuse somebody of tampering, shouldn’t you at least know what the rule says?