Oct
08

Union to play a role in Sabathia decision?

By

The MLBPA is the most powerful union in sports. For the most part, they get what they want. Could that influence play a part in CC Sabathia donning pinstripes this winter? Ken Davidoff ponders the question, and reflects back to the 2002-2003 off-season. Jim Thome, a newly-minted free agent, got a huge offer from the Phillies, and a decent one from the Indians, with whom he had played since being drafted in 1989. Davidoff’s source said Thome was considering the Tribe’s offer because he loved playing in the Midwest. However, the players’ union leaned on him, and he ended up taking the big bucks with Philly.

If we’re to believe the current crop of rumors, the Yankees seem poised to be the high bidder in the CC Sweepstakes. While CC might not necessarily value the dollar over all else, how will the union feel about that? What if the best offer out there is five years and $100 million, and the Yanks are going six and $125? Clearly, it’s tough to speculate on a situation like this, seeing as none of us (as far as I know) works for the union. It’s just something else to think about as we near the beginning of free agency.

Categories : Asides

37 Comments»

  1. TheLastClown says:

    The whole paradigm bothers me a little bit. I know we’re A#1 American Capitalists here, but isn’t a union supposed to look out for the interests of its members? Even if those interests don’t weigh making a plus load of money any heavier than making just a load?

    Players, for their part, should IMO resist the pressure of the union. I wonder if they had anything to say about ARod not hitting the open market last year, or, since he got the biggest contract in history anyway, if they didn’t care about setting an even more ballooned precedent there.

    I know the point of the article is that we’ll be the high bidders, and the union will lean on CC to go to the high bidder, ergo we’ll get CC. But I think a player should be able to play where he wants, if that team wants him, and I hoped that fronting *arguably?* the best rotation in baseball would be enough *along with the high $$ of course* to woo him without pressure from the union. Maybe I’m just an ideological quibbler though.

    • radnom says:

      “isn’t a union supposed to look out for the interests of its members? Even if those interests don’t weigh making a plus load of money any heavier than making just a load?”

      Yes, but not at the expense of the other members of the union. They always weigh what is best for the largest number of players.

      For example, in the Thome situation, he ended up going to a situation he may not have chosen on his own, but the union was happy because his contract set the market higher and allowed countless other free agents to make much more money that offseason.

      Another example would be the union blocking the Arod trade to the Red Sox. Sure, it was in Alex’s best interest to get out of Texas, but that required him giving back some of his contract (which he was willing to do). The Union would not allow this though because it would set a dangerous (to their bottom line) precedent for everyone else moving forward.

      They always have to side with the interest of their members overall as opposed to one individual member, make sense?

      • CJ says:

        Yep, that makes sense, and your analysis is spot-on. It’s a shame that this is the reality, though. The notion that an individual player must give up his own personal autonomy and freedom to manage his career so that other players’ can maximize their millions is truly distasteful to me.

        • CJ says:

          Errr, “other players”, not “other players’”…

        • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

          “The notion that an individual player must give up his own personal autonomy and freedom to manage his career so that other players’ can maximize their millions is truly distasteful to me.”

          I understand these sentiments but the statement above is taking it a little far. The MLBPA cannot, and does not, usurp any player’s personal autonomy and freedom to manage his career. I know I’m nit-picking, but it’s an important distinction.

          • Ed says:

            The union can and probably did in the case of the failed A-Rod to Boston trade.

            The collective bargaining agreement bars contracts from being reduced in value, hence the union stepped in and blocked the trade. They didn’t want any precedent set there about it being ok if the player agreed to it.

            When the Yankees traded for A-Rod, his deferred money was restructured, reducing it in value somewhat. To get around that, the restructuring included some perks, including “the right to link his web site to the Yankees web site”.

          • CJ says:

            If I’m off on the facts–that the MLBPA has the authority or power to usurp a player’s personal autonomy–then it’s my mistake. I do have to admit that I’m not informed well enough to know if they do or have. I don’t know what type of tactics they use, but to the degree they’re at all coercive and more than a mere suggestion, I have a real problem with it. Forced–not voluntary–sacrifice for the
            “collective good” is a dirty and loaded word which I won’t type here, but it’s a Karl Marx special.

      • A rising tide lifts all boats, as they say.

    • A.D. says:

      they should, but thats not how unions operate

  2. Steve S. says:

    This whole CC signing debate is like a bad movie that is struggling to find a twist in the plot when everyone knows how its going to end. These writers seem to coming up with stuff everyday to give a reason why CC wont go to the Yankees.

    Bottom line, this isnt going to be like other situations where the Yankees top an offer by a year or a couple of million. This is going to be a potential $40-$50M difference between the offers. Given the state of the economy there arent any other teams out there that are going to match what the Yankees are capable of.

    If the guy takes $50M less to sign with an NL team so he can hit, then itll be more than the players union pulling their hair out of their heads- all of his teammates and his family will be scratching their heads. Thats not a small amount of money even for a professional athlete.

    • radnom says:

      This article is just the opposite. A writer coming up with a highly speculative reason why he *will* sign with the Yankees.

    • If the guy takes $50M less to sign with an NL team so he can hit, then itll be more than the players union pulling their hair out of their heads- all of his teammates and his family will be scratching their heads. Thats not a small amount of money even for a professional athlete.

      Shit, if CC loves to hit, he can take the extra $50M and start his own PAC to lobby Congress to use the anti-trust hammer to eliminate the DH.

  3. ko says:

    With the state of the economy, Sabbathia may not get any offers. Its interesting that as weak as unions are in this country and as screwed as workers (middle class and lower class folks) are in this country (see the last bailout if you want proof), why anyone would bother to union-bash is beyond me. Is it really enjoyable to kick a dead horse?

    • radnom says:

      Might not get any offers? Huh?

      No one is union-bashing in general. The MLB player’s union is probably one of the most powerful unions in the country, if not the most. And they arn’t exactly representing middle class workers, either.

      • The Honorable Congressman Mondesi says:

        The wealth of the members of the union shouldn’t matter. Even though the players make a ton of money, management/ownership still crushes them financially. The union itself is still representing workers who make less than their employers and it should act in the best interest of its members.

    • A.D. says:

      Unions aren’t that weak, just ask GMs management

  4. UNION YES. says:

    Blue-collar all the way baby!

  5. radnom says:

    “However, the players’ union leaned on him”

    Does anyone have any idea what this entails?
    Did they just convince him that it was in everyone’s best interest to take the money, or is there more they could do?

  6. A.D. says:

    Yes CC sabathia will make a lot of money, but this isnt the same market as Thome a few years back, the union shouldn’t feel the need to push the envelope, like the Giambi, Kevin Brown, and Mike Piazza deals of yesteryear have, where they were essentially ushering in a whole new level in which players could get paid. CC’s deal probably won’t open up a new realm of getting paid, only put another player up in that territory.

    With an agent like Boras around, and contracts of Zito & Arod the union doesnt have to worry about pushing the envelope as much as it might have in the past, though maybe with some young guys locking themselves up (ie Braun & Longoria) they may want to.

  7. JohnnyC says:

    BTW, Gene Orza is a big Yankees fan.

  8. longoria nation says:

    i hope they do lean on him, and i dont care what happens as long as CC pitches for the Yanks

    i hope tex ends up in the bronx too and i also dont care how it happens

  9. longoria nation says:

    the union does have a concern if you ask me with pitchers, while not with position players….they need to keep the lofty contracts over 100mill alive….that means if cc only gets like 100….almost nobody else will but if cc gets like 150 or 160 a lot of young guys without nearly as much talent could get 6/100 or something like that….if CC signs on the west coast for only 100 than which pitchers in the next few years will get even more than 80?

  10. Yankees 4ever says:

    “Another example would be the union blocking the Arod trade to the Red Sox. Sure, it was in Alex’s best interest to get out of Texas, but that required him giving back some of his contract (which he was willing to do). The Union would not allow this though because it would set a dangerous (to their bottom line) precedent for everyone else moving forward.”

    Radnom is right in that the union will not allow sabathia to take a ‘lower’ offer because he wants to play there, especially when Santana had set the new record last season, based on this, the Yankees would seem to have all the leverage this season when coming to free agents. Due to no revenue sharing and I think no luxury tax because of the new Stadium.

    Remember when free agent’s would use the Yankees to get a better deal from another team?

    • AndrewYF says:

      Can the union REALLY control what contract a player takes? All they can do is pressure you, but what can they pressure you with? Words?

      If I were a baseball player, and my secret life dream was to play for the Yankees, I would gladly take $100 million instead of $150 million to play for them, union be damned.

  11. Mike Pop says:

    CC is a G tho hes gonna say fuck u to the union and do whatev he wants

  12. Januz says:

    If Sabathia is going to take his marching orders from the “union”, then he is downright stupid. The purpose of free agency is SUPPOSED to be about “Choice”, and if he chooses San Francisco or Anaheim so be it. The reality of the matter is they are not even a UNION. They are the Players ASSOCIATION (Just like the Screen Actors GUILD (SAG)). There are major legal differences between them (Such as no ceiling in salaries, and lack of seniority pay (Where else but the NFL can unproven rookies make more than vets? Certainly NOT the NYPD)). Another very interesting thing about the “Players Association” is how they crossed the picket lines during the umpires strike. Does anyone think a REAL union like the Teamsters would do that? That is another huge difference.
    I know someone who took marching orders from the Players Association and his agent. The name is………………… Alex Rodriguez. This guy listened to Boras, and took all the money he could get from Texas (Where Ranger Baseball is filler programming until Cowboy training camp starts). Then he listened to the Association, instead of going to Boston (Where he would have remained at shortstop, instead of switching positions (And maybe won a ring)). Instead of being behind Derek Jeter and maybe even Joba, in the hearts of Yankee fans. Think he wishes he was somewhere else?
    Sabathia needs to follow his heart and head, and go where he is most comfortable.

    • longoria nation says:

      hows this for comfot: LA is lakers town; first and foremost…..even with jeter and arod if sabathia came to NY and anchored down the roto for the YANKEES, the most coveted franchise in all of sports, this would be HIS town!

  13. Whitey14 says:

    Any Union or Association representing employees of a particular industry should recognize that a balance between what’s right for the employees and what’s right for the industry is always the best (i.e. most profitable) way to go as neither can survive without the other. The problem here is that neither side trusts the other and never has. The Union should be trying to help spread the best available players throughout the league, to keep as many franchises viable and competitive as possible. That is not now, and has never been, a focus of theirs. The early focus of Marvin Miller’s Player’s Association was to get the players fair wages and some measure of a pension. He later moved on to arbitration and eventually free agency, which is unnecessary “in my opinion”. That being said, the small battles have been won because the majority of the owners have no backbones and all that’s left to fight for each year is the highest possible salaries.

    I thank God every day that I do not work as part of a union and that instead I work for an employer with fair wages, excellent benefits, and an open door policy back by excellent Human Resource personnel. Unions have helped make Manufacturing, Automaking and Steelworking shadows of what they once were in this country by pricing their employees out of the market because they always wanted more.

  14. Januz says:

    I have been saying for quite sometime that the salaries are on the way down. Here is an interesting little piece from the LA Daily News which I found thru Si. http://www.si.com. “Crunching the numbers on a massive Teixeira deal would appear to be the team’s biggest priority. He could command as much as $18 million a season………………….” No one claims that $18,000,000 is pauper money. However, it is far from the Arod contract that was projected. If this is true, then second tier guys like Burnett, Garland, Perez, and Abreu will be in for a rude awakening this offseason. In Abreu’s case, it may be a pay CUT on a ONE year contract.

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