The Miami Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates have come under fire recently after electing to sell off many of their core players in trades, rather than spend money to keep themselves competitive.
Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan reported this week that the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) is even currently weighing the option of filing grievances against those two clubs, with the charge being they’ve ignored rules in the collective bargain agreement that require them to put money received in revenue sharing back into the team.
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Major League Baseball, on the other hand, has no such concerns.
In a statement released Friday night, the league absolved both teams from any wrongdoing, stating that they’ve instead complied with every measure of the current CBA.
Here’s the full statement, courtesy of MLB.com’s Adam Berry.
We do not have concerns about the Pirates’ and Marlins’ compliance with the basic agreement provisions regarding the use of revenue sharing proceeds. The Pirates have steadily increased their payroll over the years while at the same time decreasing their revenue sharing. The Marlins’ ownership purchased a team that incurred substantial financial losses the prior two seasons, and even with revenue sharing and significant expense reduction, the team is projected to lose money in 2018. The union has not informed us that it intends to file a grievance against either team.”
The league’s statement came shortly after Pirates president Frank Coonnelly made it clear that his team was not under investigation by the league.
“The Pirates are not being investigated by MLB and the Commissioner has no concerns whatsoever with the manner in which the Pirates are investing its revenue sharing receipts into building a winner. The Pirates have and will continue to invest its revenue sharing receipts in an effort to put a winning team on the field. As required by the Basic Agreement, we share with MLB and the Union each year the detail as to how our revenue sharing receipts are used to put a winning team on the field. What the detail shows is that while our revenue sharing receipts have decreased for seven consecutive seasons, our Major league payroll has more than doubled over that same period. Indeed, our revenue sharing receipts are now just a fraction of what we spend on Major League payroll, let alone all of the other dollars that we spend on scouting, player development and other baseball investments, several areas in which we are among the League leaders in spending. Thus, the Commissioner is well-equipped to address whatever ’concerns’ the Union now has over the Pirates’ effort to win.”
Both statements are pretty clear attempts to squash the issue before the MLBPA comes to a decision. Whether the MLBPA lets it go so easily is another story. Given the frustration surrounding this winter’s slow market, it seems likely they’ll want more answers before entirely moving on.
The fanbases for both teams have echoed the union’s concerns. There are even petitions out there aimed at pushing Derek Jeter and the ownership groups in both Miami and Pittsburgh out. So far this winter, the Marlins have traded their entire outfield of Giancarlo Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich, not to mention second baseman Dee Gordon. The Pirates have traded former MVP Andrew McCutchen and ace Gerrit Cole.
At the very least, it’s a very bad look for both teams to so forcefully bail on fringe contending teams. But the reality is surviving isn’t easy for smaller market teams. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made, and despite these tough decisions all coming so close together, they clearly have the league’s support.
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