It’s been a heck of a week in the baseball world when it comes to things that are happening between the owners, the players, the agents, and now the former players, too. At the center of some of it is Cincinnati Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer. You likely know that Bauer is not scared to speak his mind. If he believes you are in the wrong, he will make it known – and that doesn’t matter if you are Rob Manfred, the owners of teams, or as we learned this week – Scott Boras or even former players.

After MLB offered their latest proposal to the Major League Baseball Players Association on Tuesday, the players were less than thrilled about it and decided that it wasn’t even worth further discussion and that instead they would offer up their own plan. But Trevor Bauer was not happy with the rumors, as he said on twitter, that he was hearing about Scott Boras trying to insert himself into the situation.

It’s uncertain if what Bauer was hearing turned out to be the email that Boras sent out to his clients that was obtained by the Associated Press, but it feels likely that it was. Here’s the email:

Remember, games cannot be played without you. Players should not agree to further pay cuts to bail out the owners. Let owners take some of their record revenues and profits from the past several years and pay you the prorated salaries you agreed to accept or let them borrow against the asset values they created from the use of those profits players generated.

Owners are asking for more salary cuts to bail them out of the investment decisions they have made. If this was just about baseball, playing games would give the owners enough money to pay the players their full prorated salaries and run the baseball organization. The owners’ current problem is a result of the money they borrowed when they purchased their franchises, renovated their stadiums or developed land around their ballparks. This type of financing is allowed and encouraged by MLB because it has resulted in significant franchise valuations.

Owners now want players to take additional pay cuts to help them pay these loans. They want a bailout. They are not offering players a share of the stadiums, ballpark villages or the club itself, even though salary reductions would help owners pay for these valuable franchise assets. These billionaires want the money for free. No bank would do that. Banks demand loans be repaid with interest. Players should be entitled to the same respect.

Throughout this process, they will be able to claim that they never had any profits because those profits went to pay off their loans. However, the end result is that the Ricketts will own improved assets that significantly increases the value of the Cubs — value that is not shared with the players.

Make no mistake, owners have chosen to take on these loans because, in normal times, it is a smart financial decision. But, these unnecessary choices have now put them in a challenging spot. Players should stand strong because players are not the ones who advised owners to borrow money to purchase their franchises and players are not the ones who have benefited from the recent record revenues and profits.

I will say this much: Scott Boras is 100% correct in what he says here. The owners of these teams felt that the money train would never stop rolling in. And really, for the large majority of them it hasn’t since they bought or inherited the team. In the last 15 years almost every franchise has at least tripled in value and for 18 consecutive years Major League Baseball had set a record for revenue.

As for Bauer having an issue with Boras, assuming of course it was based on the email that he sent out – it’s tough to know where to fall on that. If I am a player, I’m probably seeking the advice of anyone in my circle about the situation. That’s going to include my agent, my finance guy if I’ve got one, my teammates, the union – all of them.

But it’s not just Scott Boras that caught the feedback of Bauer. Former big leaguer Kyle Lohse did as well after he chimed in telling Rachel Luba, Bauer’s agent, that what he was doing gives the perception that the players are turning on each other. That didn’t sit well with Bauer, who came back at Lohse.

The two of them went back and forth a little bit longer after that. And Eric Gagne even chimed in (while this account is not verified, it’s followed by Bauer’s company Momentum, as well as Rachel Luba – and Gagne worked with both of them in the last few weeks – so I’ll venture to say that it’s really him) to try and calm things down a little bit.

Writing this post felt like I took a job at TMZ, and for that I apologize. But unfortunately, labor negotiations are where we are at in Major League Baseball right now and it’s the topic that’s most important to getting to see games played in 2020 by Major League Baseball players.

41 Responses

  1. RojoBenjy

    “ Writing this post felt like I took a job at TMZ”

    Doug—that’s funny right there.

    Well-played

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Yeah, I’m not quite sure how Boras is hurting the players with his email. If anything, it vouches for their position. The line between repping your players and injecting yourself into union business is all kinds of gray for an agent.

    Lohse comes off like a crochety old man with the video game comments, ugh!

  3. BK

    I don’t that I would agree that Scott Boras is 100% right here. He has an agenda. He has benefited tremendously from the current economic model in MLB, perhaps as much as anyone. He gets a cut on those huge contracts he’s negotiated on behalf of baseball’s elite and most certainly stands to lose a lot of commission this year under MLB’s latest proposal.

  4. Scott C

    I agree with the statement that “Boras is 100% right.” Boy I never thought that I would agree with Boras

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    Boras might not be 100 percent right, but it seems he may at least have zeroed in on the issue which is prompting the owners to negotiate as though the sky is falling. Both sides will figure this out eventually, but for the first time I believe the owners might actually be willing to forego the 2020 season and wait for more normal societal and economic conditions in 2021.

    It’s a huge mistake, in my opinion. But only they know how highly leveraged they are.

    • BK

      Great points Tom. As stated above, I think Boras’ speaking out is self serving. That’s why Bauer called him out. But some of his underlying points are spot on. If he’s correct and the owners entered this downturn heavily leveraged that could put them in a really tight financial position. That said, both sides need to keep an eye towards the future. MLB’s losses will affect player salaries, either now or in the future. The elite players will prefer to take a lessor hit this year. The 65% of players making less than $1M per year and those nearing the end of arbitration would probably prefer to see future dollars prioritized.

  6. Michael Smith

    I believe Boras represents his clients to the fullest and believes that if they cave to the owners now they are going to get steamrolled in the next CBA.

    • BK

      The players will steamroll themselves. They continue to fight for a contract that favors elite players with many years of experience. No major sport has as big of a disparity between the top earners and the vast majority of players. Mike Trout’s contract, the largest in terms of total dollars, is $198M better than the highest paid player in the NBA and $276M better than the top NFL contract. MLB’s best contracts dwarf those of other sports. Seven of the top 10 MLB contract have been signed over the last two seasons while overall MLB salaries have remained relatively flat. Moreover, all MLB contracts are fully guaranteed. So not only are they higher than other sports, but they place significantly more risk on owners than those in the other pro leagues. It is this risk that led the owners to fight for cost certainty with the draft and international free agent signings. It also leads to tanking (avoidance of high cost/risk contract when teams are rebuilding) and to trying to keep players under control as long as possible (essentially keeping top prospects for 7 vice 6 years).

      They should revenue share … the books would be open, both sides would be incentivized to do what is best for the game. The current system leads to acrimony distrust and divergent strategies.

  7. Don

    Boras is probably mostly right on how leveraged some teams are with their finances. How much of the area around Wrigley Field has the Cubs ownership purchased. The one property that would not sell to them, they put up a scoreboard to block the stadium from the bleachers that are on the building’s roof.

    That property is not free and the most likely took out loans, now those places which are not part of the “baseball revenue” as they are probably a different named business with the same owner to hide the revenue as not part of the team.

    Large companies do it all the time, have one business be intentionally show a lose on the books to allow the profitable businesses to make lots of money and no income taxes are paid.

    As soon as one starts cooking the books this way, it has to go on forever as if not both the people whom gave you the loans and the IRS get upset with the business.

    This is a tangled web of finances.

  8. Sliotar

    Boras is a Trojan Horse within the players and the Players Association itself.

    If an e-mail to his clients was leaked … it’s a private communication that was leaked. No big deal.

    But, Boras has been quoted publicly many times in 2020 … he has been on MLB Radio seemingly every week, telling what all players should do … not just his clients.

  9. RedsFan11

    Interesting how you look at articles, comments from players a couple weeks ago it was all about safety, but smart ones knew, its always about the money…

    Play Ball!

  10. Sliotar

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2019/07/07/scott-boras-ted-lerner-discuss-contract-extension-anthony-rendon/

    “Boras, who represents the third baseman, does not make frequent trips to Washington. But the timing of this visit, as well as Boras’s long-standing relationship with the elder Lerner, are potentially important given Rendon’s impending free agency. Boras met with both Ted Lerner and other members of the franchise’s ownership group. ”

    If I am a rank-and-file player who isn’t represented by Boras …. no chance can I trust his true intentions.

    When Scott Boras is actively supporting a work stoppage to drive real change , and willing to donate from his agency to build a war chest to help all players get through it …

    then he will have truly chosen the players’ side, willing to risk his relationship with owners.

  11. Stock

    I feel the players are guaranteed to make money this year. if games are played they will make even more money. The question becomes should the owners be allowed the guarantee of making money this year or should there be some risk involved.

    Owners want a guarantee of a profitable year for all teams. Players want the most they can get. Boros gives the impression that the owners should lose money.

  12. Tom

    I’m a small business owner. My client’s businesses were devastated in this economic shutdown and I’m now in week 13 of no income. Thankfully I have savings and may make it another couple of months before my personal economic cliff. Even through I paid into unemployment, I was denied.

    So, that’s a long way of saying I couldn’t care less about millionaires and billionaires arguing.

    • Stock

      I am in 100% agreement with you Tom. Well said.

    • Doug Gray

      If only 65% of the players union were in no way millionaires this statement would hold a lot more water.

  13. Curtis

    Tom nailed it! This is a moment in history where professional athletes could make a huge difference in how the morale of this country is. They could bring so much energy and joy to millions who are feeling beaten. They so often like to compare themselves to soldiers and make come ts about going to battle. Yet now in this moment of need by so many, a time where they could make a difference, they are choosing to bicker over money. If both the players and the owners can not see this and bring the game to the people, the resulting damage to Baseball may be irreversible.

    • RedNat

      very well said Curtis. this is so much bigger than baseball. just seems to me that the owners see this a little more than the players.

  14. RedNat

    just seems like perfect timing for a scab season. the mlb players will get money for sitting at home. the owners can pay minor leaguers peanuts to play major league baseball this year and at least capture some tv money. everybody would be pleased!

      • BigRedSteve

        Doug,

        Could you please elaborate on your response here? What wouldn’t be pleasing to you? and Why?

      • Doug Gray

        Sure. I don’t want to watch non-Major Leaguers cross a picket line and play for Major League Baseball teams. I don’t want to see minor league players feel forced to have to make the choice.

        On what planet would not watching Nick Castellanos play for the Reds this year, and instead watching Replacement Level Player ABC be “pleasing” to you or I?

        I’d rather watch no Major League Baseball than watch companies worth a combined $60,000,000,000 exploit minor league players to try and make some money this year instead of just paying the big leaguers the money that they already agreed to pay them.

        And let’s be sure that we understand that if we don’t see Major League Baseball this year, it’ll probably destroy the career and business that I’ve built over the entirety of my adult life and I’ll probably have to leave it all behind. But that’s where I stand, too.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        I’m with you. I would have no interest in “replacement players.” This is the year we have the players to hopefully compete. Nothing less than seeing them is good enough, in my opinion.

      • BK

        I agree w/Doug and Tom. The solution is for both sides to work together, not to drive another huge wedge.

      • Don

        Doug, I understand where you are coming from. I can tell for your writing and dedication that effort and passion you put into this and the redsminorleague website. I assume that the actions of the MLB owners/players are going to have a more direct impact on you more than anyone else here.

        I would be disappointed if no season is played but it would not impact me financially at all.

        I would not watch replacement games as part of what I enjoy is watching players which I know whom they are and have some passion behind.

        The Reds franchise is long term but a turnover of more than 5 or so players a year would be to much effort to bring any passion from this fan.

  15. Kurt

    Would be nice if the owners and players would reinvest in there fan base and slash ticket, concession, parking prices for when baseball opens back up again to the public. Players and owners are making a kajillion dollars, as stadiums aren’t even half full most of the time. It cost a couple hundred bucks to take a family of four to a game now a days. Be nice if they could take all that money they make the game day experience more affordable for the less fortunate. Until then, could care less about their squabbles. Their both entitled that could care less about growing the games fan base.

    This is going to be the only warning you get about using that kind of language, Kurt. Don’t do it.

    • TR

      With the cable and TV contracts as the main source of income for pro sports teams, the fan base is becoming, IMO, increasingly a nebulas and antiquated concept replaced by the TV and computer. The pandemic is hastening big changes in employment where increasing work will done from home, and in education where the computer and video conferencing become more prevalent. As much as baseball fans love a crowded noisy stadium, we will adjust.

  16. Old-school

    @Doug. I admire your support for the little guy- whether it be that 25 yo AAAA guy trying to get a roster spot or that 19 th round pick who signed for 60k and struggles at low A. But that’s not the owners fault. The top players are making a gazillion dollars. Veteran relief pitchers on their last leg make millions. Arbitration favors the players and the top 5 rounds of the draft make the top prospects set for life. The Reds FO made great strides in improving technology,facilities, nutrition, support across the organization the last few years.

    They also made some great non- signings in Zach Cozart/ scooter Gennett and Yasiel Puig. How has Reds ownership not treated it’s players well?

    • Doug Gray

      Well, let’s start with the fact that every team outside of one pays their players in the minor leagues who haven’t yet reached free agency less than McDonald’s pays their cashiers.

      Look, I know plenty of people in the organization, and as far as I know, they are good people who do actually care about the players. They aren’t the ones that have a say over the money. But I can’t sit here and say that paying the guy in Dayton $7500 a year is treating that guy well – because it’s not. This isn’t just a Reds problem – it’s an everyone but the Blue Jays problem. For top picks who got big signing bonuses, that matters a lot less. Most guys aren’t that, though.

    • Doug Gray

      And then there’s the whole thing where the Reds, and every other single team in baseball sits around and manipulates service time so players can’t reach free agency without getting an extra “cheap year” out of them. Until a player reaches free agency at the Major League level, which is usually at least 10 full years into their professional baseball careers, they are underpaid and taken advantage of. The reward on the back end used to be good, but now teams are also trying to, and for the most part doing a very good job of taking that away from them, too, citing that their best years are behind them. And while that’s true for the most part, the teams now don’t want to pay you for when you are at your best or pay you back for when you weren’t.

      That’s every team. It’s not just the Reds.

      • BK

        On both points you raise, MLBPA is more responsible than the owners. MLBPA has not prioritize MiLB players of younger players in their negotiations.

        MLBPA could have prioritized dollars to MiLB over the years–they haven’t. When MLBPA objected to an international draft, MLB owners pivoted.

        MLBPA could have addressed their “service time” concerns in the last CBA–they didn’t. Rather they filed and lost a grievance, because there is nothing in the CBA that backs their complaint. A breech of “good faith” is rightfully so a very high hurdle in arbitration. It’s simply not the purpose of arbitration for an arbitrator to give one party a consideration that fundamentally changes collectively bargained terms in an agreement.

        The owners have announced a plan to increase Minor League pay, although that increase is coming at a cost of fewer MiLB affiliations.

      • ClevelandRedsFan

        This is spot on. We all talk about how the top 1% of baseball players make tens of millions. But the fact of the matter is this:

        The top 1% of MLB players have it better than any other sport.
        The lower 10% have it worse than any other sport. Rookies are able to negotiate contracts in the NFL and NBA. MLB players need to wait 3 or 4 years until they get a salary increase and 6 or 7 until they can get a bigger contract.

    • Old-school

      The Reds.. per C Trent …are paying their minor Leaguers under contract thru Sept 7.

      He also reports a significant # of “cuts” June 1.

      It’s pretty clear that minor league baseball restructuring is front and center for the new baseball normal.

  17. Doc

    I prefer minor league baseball anyway, and that was long before anybody had heard of covid.

  18. Hotto4Votto

    I don’t really have an opinion on Boras, but I absolutely agree with his take. I do love Bauer, and I get his comments to Lohse, as Lohse doesn’t really have a dog in this fight anymore. At the same time, I don’t get Bauer’s stance toward’s Boras’ comments. As the letter was to Boras’ clients he seemed to be doing the thing Bauer wanted, which was to rep his clients.

    • BK

      That was a very good read. Thanks for the recommendation.

      • TR

        June is just around the corner and MLB is very near the cliff again. For those of us around at that time, the memory of 1994 has not faded.

  19. Kevin Davis

    I find Boras comments laughable at best. Yes he is trying to do what is best for his clients. But this is where he goes off the rails a bit.

    Any owner wants to not only recoup their losses , but improve on their investment to generate a greater return. That’s wny the Cubs have made vast amounts of improvements to the area around Wrigley. But part of it is to generate additional income to help pay ever escalating players salaries.

    If there is no season this year while other sports are getting ready to ramp up, it will have damage beyond this year. Those TV contracts will be worth less in coming years.

    Clay Travis, on his national radio show yesterday, made a comment that should send shock waves through MLB. If the NBA starts up and finish the season, they will start next season on Christmas. And run through the summer. Travis indicated that there is some speculation that the NBA may move to that schedule going forward. If that happens, who is going to dominate the sports landscape in the spring and summer? Not baseball.

  20. troy a plaisance

    anyone remember the cliche’ “…for Love of the Game!” MLB players are beloved usually because they’ve proven themselves on the field. MiLB players are attempting that same thing! So how does advancing MiLB players to play Major league games cheapen the game? How is giving a Major League Prospect (usually known as a Minor League baseball player) the opportunity to play on a Major League stage exploiting him?

    Granted (pay attention, disclaimers coming) I don’t have a Season Ticket to a MLB franchise. There is no MLB team that plays within a 6 hour drive of where I am sitting right now. I DO have a MiLB team that plays right here and even though they aren’t affiliated with the MLB team to which I follow faithfully, I love watching them play, every chance I get! I also coach my 7YO’s recreational baseball team and love watching the kids learn the game. Are those games bad or hard to watch? At times, YES IT’S AGONIZING! But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. In the end, for me, it’s baseball that I love. The history. The passion. And yes, The players. But the players of the game! I don’t like the DH, because to me it allows 2 players to take the field, that DO NOT play the full game of baseball. Pitchers should bat, Batters should field! I don’t make a living playing, writing, coaching, or even indirectly working for any professional athletic or entertainment enterprise. I do spend money collecting baseball cards and autographed baseball memorabilia. And I’m thinking that the whole collection will lose value because of what’s happening. But I don’t collect as an investment, I collect because I love baseball. Love talking about baseball. And in the end, I hope and pray that my 7YO son AND 7YO grandson will love it too. Maybe even play it at a high level or even get a job directly related to the sports entertainment industry, because it’s a MULTI BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY!

    A MLB player is a contracted employee! There are words in writing that say how and why they get paid. There is pen to paper (or keys to word processor application, you know what I mean) on what the Billionaire owners are required to do! They can’t figure it out? I don’t care! I work hard for a living! For my families livelihood! I took and TAKE the precautions for going to work and home through this pandemic every day! When and if it is safe to play for everyone, THEN PLAY! If some primadonna thinks his 1.5M isn’t enough to play a 3 hr game of baseball… don’t pay him and send him on his way. If some GAZILLIONAIRE thinks that 1.5M is too much to pay when the TV contract that was just signed is worth HUNDREDS of Millions, HE’S A RICH GREEDY IDIOT (probably how he made those MILLIONS in the first place). I’m neither. I’m just a fan of baseball. I’d like to see some games played. I’d like to see the people that play those games enjoy it and not be worried about the money they’re getting, are they going to be healthy afterward, is their family safe? If that can’t happen, then it doesn’t. But I don’t care about your money worries…. i really don’t! you’re health and safety does concern me…. but c’mon, when they say it’s ok…. let’s play!