The MLB Players Association reportedly
requested a league investigation to determine whether there was “improper communication” between the New York Yankees and New
York Mets regarding the potential free-agent pursuit of outfielder Aaron
Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported
Wednesday the union referenced a Nov. 3 article by SNY’s Andy
Martino, which said the Mets wouldn’t engage in a “high-profile
bidding war” with the Yankees because of a “mutually respectful
relationship” between team owners Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner.
“The only way people involved can see
the Mets changing course and pursuing Judge would be if the Yankees
somehow declared themselves out of the bidding,” Martino
If the Players Association can prove
the Mets’ reluctance to bid directly against the Yanks damaged
Judge’s free-agent market, it would be a violation of MLB’s collective
bargaining agreement, per Rosenthal.
The Mets have emerged as one of the
league’s biggest spenders since Cohen purchased majority control of
the franchise in November 2020. Their current projected payroll for
2023 ($184.7 million) is the highest figure in MLB by more than $20
million, per Spotrac.
So it’s important for top-tier free
agents like Judge to at least have the threat of a Mets bid as part
of the process to maximize their leverage. If the New York teams
aren’t willing to battle each other, it limits the upside of the
slugger’s likely nine-figure contract.
Judge, who set the new American League
record with 62 home runs in 2022, hasn’t shed much light on his
free-agent foray throughout the year.
“That’s all going to run through my
agent,” Judge told reporters in October after the Yankees were
eliminated from the playoffs. “I haven’t even thought about the
next step yet. But like I said, we’ve got time to figure it out. I’ve
never been in this spot before.”
Along with the Yankees and Mets, Jim
Bowden of The Athletic listed the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco
Giants and Chicago White Sox as the other potential suitors, saying
it’s hard to see any of the other 25 teams having a “legitimate
chance” in the sweepstakes.
If there’s only five clubs seriously
involved, taking the Mets out of the equation represents a 20 percent
drop in interest for Judge’s representatives to work with on the
Should a formal grievance be filed by the
Players Association, an arbitrator would hear the case, and Judge
could be awarded “triple damages” if collusion is proved, per
The Judge situation will likely
make or break the Yankees’ offseason. He carried the team’s
offense for extended stretches during the 2022 campaign, and there’s
no option, internal or external, who can replace his production
barring a massive blockbuster trade.
So there’s a strong chance
Steinbrenner’s club was likely to match any offer given to the
30-year-old four-time All-Star regardless of the surrounding
circumstances, but more limited competition could prove quite
valuable in terms the final contract cost.
It makes the collusion case an
interesting subplot to what’s already one of the winter’s top