The New York Yankees pitching ace Gerrit Cole said players need to “wake up” and understand how some teams think about players in the aftermath of former Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather’s admission that the Seattle Mariners manipulated service time and other things.
This all involved Jarred Kelenic, who the Mariners obtained from the New York Mets in a trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to the Mets, a trade that likely still stings the Mets. Most sources consider Kelenic as one of the best prospects in all of baseball. The Mariners Mathers said: “He’s a very good player, and quite frankly, we think he’s going to be a superstar; we would like him to get a few more at-bats in the minor leagues, probably Triple-A Tacoma for a month. Then he will likely be in left field at T-Mobile Park for the next six or seven years, and then he’ll be a free agent.”
Cole called some of the practices acting in “bad faith” and said he had no answers about how to solve the issues that many players have with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) that will expire this December. December. The Yankee ace said on Tuesday:
“If you start to play with the beginning of the bell curve [of a players’ career], so you maximize what it is and you’re only doing it strictly to be more efficient business-wise, that’s just frustrating, I don’t have an answer for how to fix it. I think it’s bad faith.”
The Mariners Mather said:
“He won’t commit beyond his free-agent years. I wouldn’t say he’s unhappy. He appreciates the offer, he just refused to sign it. He thinks he’s going to be that good. And he thinks he will be a very well-paid player after six years, and I think he might be right. Hopefully it’s with us, but we’ll see where we end up.”
Mathers’s surprising comments have blotted out any doubts the MLBPA (players union) might have had during a virtual discussion with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club earlier this month that became public Monday.
“I think every player needs to wake up and read the news about the guy with the Mariners,’’ said Cole, who is part of the executive subcommittee of the MLBPA. “Those conversations are being had in a lot of clubs, unfortunately. That’s what a lot of clubs are acting on. I don’t know if a rule is gonna be able to fix that. Somebody will find a way around that.”
The result of all of this is young players being forced to stay in the minors longer than they should, as Mather said. The Seattle Mariners will not promote the former New York Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic to T-Mobile Park at the start of the 2021 season, as that would start his clock towards arbitration and free agency.
“It’s happening with a lot of clubs and it’s not productive for anyone,’’ Cole said. “They’re not putting the best players on the field for people to see. This guy is talking about players making him money. The product is the people he’s talking poorly about.” Cole said of the situation, “It’s tired. I think players are over it. If you haven’t been awakened to that type of behavior, that’s what goes on. I don’t know how to fix it. I just know I don’t like it.”
The New York Yankee Cole, who is seldom outspoken on issues, is also not happy about the supposed new baseballs this year, saying that he has been trying to get his hands on the new less bouncy balls that are/will be introduced this season by MLB. He hasn’t been able to get a straight answer as to if the balls used in training camp are the old ones or the new ones, saying that no one will give him an answer. He said it’s time to be a little “more honest about that kind of stuff.”
All of this is a prelude to the renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement between the players and owners that will be coming this December. For the most part, the union has let the owners have their way the last few years. Starting with the negotiation to get in a season in 2020, the players have shown that that is no longer the case as they stand firm on their demands. Those negotiations after this season are sure to be contentious.