MLB players union files grievance against four teams for not spending enough money

There’s a new development in the battle that’s been brewing between the MLB Players Association and team owners: The players union has filed a grievance against four teams for not spending enough of their revenue-sharing money.

The Tampa Bay Rays, Pittsburgh Pirates, Miami Marlins and Oakland Athletics are the teams, identified by Marc Topkin at the Tampa Bay Times and confirmed by Yahoo Sports on Tuesday. That would jibe with a story from our own Jeff Passan in January that said the MLBPA was considering grievances against the Pirates and Marlins after their offseason cost-shedding moves.

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Now, the scope is bigger. At issue is the the rules in the league’s collective bargaining agreement that spells out revenue-sharing money must be used to improve the on-field product. Though, as the Times points out, not necessarily on the big-league payroll.

Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association. (AP Photo)
Tony Clark, executive director of the MLB Players Association. (AP Photo)

A team like the Rays gets about $45 million per year in revenue-sharing. The Marlins and Pirates get upward of $50 million redistributed their way. The A’s have received upward of $30 million in the past, but are being phased out of the league’s revenue-sharing program.

As you can imagine, the responses to MLBPA’s grievance have been fiery on both sides. Like Pirates chairman Frank Coonelly, who called it “patently baseless.”

MLB told The Tampa Bay Times: “We have received the grievance and believe it has no merit.”

But Marcus Semien of the A’s stuck up the union’s side of things when talking to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle:

All this comes after a testy MLB offseason between MLB teams and the players union. A frozen free-agent market, in which big-name free agents (Jake Arrieta, for instance) still sit on the open market, has cooled labor relations and made people start to question whether MLB’s economic system is broken.

This latest development isn’t going to change any of that.

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Mike Oz is a writer at Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or follow him on Twitter!