Union News, Owners Get a Streaming Bounty, Davis’s Back, Happ’s Gig, and Other Cubs Bullets

The Rule 5 Draft is exactly one week away – yes, it’s on Wednesday this year, rather than Thursday morning, as it has been in the past. I wonder if that means we’ll see the majority of the Winter Meetings madness compressed into just Monday and Tuesday? Usually, once the Rule 5 Draft is done, people start to disperse. But again, that was when it was on Thursday. So many random schedule changes this year.

  • Significant news: Tony Clark has received a new five-year contract to remain the head of the MLB Players Association. Although he had a rough start to his tenure, it seems like once Clark got his footing – finding the right balance between leadership and delegation, especially in the CBA negotiations – the fit improved. I’m not surprised he was kept on board. The new deal means that Clark will once again be in charge when it’s time to negotiate the next CBA after the 2026 season.
  • In a long profile on Clark and digging into the history of his tenure, Evan Drellich drops some background on the conclusion of the lockout earlier this year. You may remember that the eight-player executive subcommittee all voted to reject the CBA, while most of the team reps voted to accept it. It turns out that it pretty much was what was suspected at the time: the subcommittee members (most of them long-time veterans who’d earned a lot of money on their careers; but also guys who could take a long view of what might be best for future players) wanted to keep holding out for a better deal, and were ready to start losing games. The majority of players, however, did not agree, which is why the vote played out as it did – it was almost a bright line question as of that very moment on whether you wanted to lose games for the chance at a better deal down the road. Had the vote gone differently, who knows how many games would have been lost.
  • Major League Baseball is officially out of the streaming business. Well, owning the pipes anyway:
  • It was generally expected that this would happen once Disney took a majority stake in BAMTech, which wound up being a massive windfall for MLB owners over the years (you may remember that it was invented, originally, to stream MLB games for MLB.tv waaaay back in the early 2000s – and it evolved into the entity that wound up powering streaming for Disney, the NHL, HBO, and more).
  • As for the extra $30 million in the pockets of each owner, I have two thoughts: (1) if you want to say that money should go back into baseball operations for each organization, you’re not going to hear me argue about it; and (2) if you want to say the streaming business was a separate long-term holding and it doesn’t exactly marry up with short-term “baseball expenses,” I could understand that, too. You know what would be nice? If that $30 million were used for some kind of long-term investment in the organization. I get not wanting to spend it all on a one-year pop in payroll, but what about using it to supplement hiring? Or facility updates? Things like that?
  • (But, you know, if the Ricketts Family wanted to spend that $30 million at about $4 million per year for the next eight years to defray the cost of, say, a Carlos Correa signing … that would be fine, too. Heck, I could probably argue it would actually be a good way to invest that $30 million from a purely financial perspective!)
  • We knew that whatever shut Brennen Davis down almost as soon as the Fall League began was probably not good, but everything offered up about it was so vague, it was hard to tell what was going on. Now Sahadev Sharma reports that it was a stress reaction in his back (a stress reaction is basically when there is irritation at a bone site, but without a fracture – usually comes from repetitive motion, and you hear about it more frequently with pitchers in their arms/shoulders). I can only speak generally in saying that stress reactions are manageable – usually with a lot of time to rest and then addressing what caused it in the first place – but I will add that it’s concerning to me that it seems like an entirely different back issue from the one that was addressed surgically earlier in the year. Maybe it’s not, and maybe this is indeed an after-effect of the surgery. Again, it’s really hard to tell right now. All I can say for sure is that the report is that he was shut down for a stress reaction in his back, and that’s not mere “general soreness.” Expectations for Davis in 2023 have to remain tempered. Extremely and unfortunately tempered. This sucks.
  • Between the injuries to Davis and Alexander Canario, the Cubs’ future outfield situation changed so dramatically this offseason. That’s two guys who projected to be big league starters – and soon – that are now total question marks. All in the span of about one offseason month. Again, this sucks.
  • (All the more reason to use money to sign impact-caliber players in free agency. Thanks.)
  • Congratulations to Ian Happ, who keeps moving on up in the players union world – from the Cubs’ team rep last year to now being on the executive subcommittee:
  • The Blue Jays are reportedly close to hiring former Marlins manager Don Mattingly as their new bench coach, serving under manager John Schneider (who was himself the bench coach until midseason last year when Charlie Montoyo was fired and Schneider took the interim job; he got the full-time gig shortly after the season).
  • The Yoenis Cespedes comeback in the DR – which was to precede a run in the World Baseball Classic – hit a bump last night when he appeared to injure his knee and needed help off the field:
  • He took it with him to interviews, and yes, this did brighten my day:

Leave a Comment