We learned on Thursday that All-Star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will not be traded to the New York Mets this offseason. We also learned on Thursday that Tulowitzki, who's still owed $114 million over the next six seasons, might be one of the few players who could comfortably afford to attend an offseason workout at the Mets facility in Port St. Lucie.
Alright, so maybe the circumstances aren't that extreme, but several reports have suggested that Mets players attending offseason workouts in Florida are paying good money out of their own pockets just to be there.
Think an agent told me they asked $1,000 from minor leaguers.RT @SaltyGary: is it true players are paying for this out of their own pockets?— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) January 15, 2015
They're pushing envelope of what's permissible in terms of sponsored offseason workouts. Almost seems like there's penalty for not attending— Adam Rubin (@AdamRubinESPN) January 15, 2015
That was the earliest information from ESPN New York's Adam Rubin on Thursday. He has since followed up on Friday, reporting that a source told him players are being charged $4,400 as major leaguers and $1,000 as minor leaguers to attend workouts overseen by new strength and conditioning consultant, Mike Barwis. If that name sounds familiar, Barwis is also the star of the TV show “American Muscle,” which airs on Discovery Channel.
The workout is legit, but it turns out the Mets involvement may not be as deep as it originally appeared. Here's more from Rubin:
The Mets made several points in defense of the structure, including that Barwis is an independent contractor using Mets facilities, that players are provided three meals daily, and that it would cost money for the players to hire trainers in the offseason anyway. They insisted that the camp really is voluntary.
When reached for comment by USA TODAY Sports, a Mets official reiterated that the workouts are “completely voluntary” and noted that Barwis pays rent for use of the facility in the offseason.
So to be clear: The Mets do not charge their players $1000 to participate in offseason workouts. Barwis charges Mets players to participate in offseason workouts he holds at the team’s facility, near where many of the club’s players own homes. Players from other teams, like the Indians’ Michael Brantley are also training with Barwis in Port St. Lucie in the offseason.
The Mets are doing their best to distance themselves from any involvement, but there are still plenty of questions surrounding the arrangement. In fact, a Players' Association spokesman has indicated they're fully aware of the situation and are already looking into it, so that's where the Mets will have to answer next.
Even if the Player's association is satisfied with the arrangement and are convinced it's all voluntary, it's still not a great look for the Mets to have their own players, especially their own minor leaguers, paying so much out of their own pockets to workout at the team's facility. If nothing else, this could spark a few tweaks to the guidelines pertaining to how offseason workouts are organized, but any major punishment seems unlikely.
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