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MLB Roundup 12/16: More strife between MLB, MLBPA on the horizon

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Remember last summer? We’re doing that again!

World Baseball Classic - Championship Round - Game 3 - USA v Puerto Rico

MLB, MLBPA looking ready to battle again

Last summer was brutal, even tossing aside the very obvious reason last summer was brutal for most of us. Just focusing on the baseball part of it, or lack thereof, the conflict between the league and the players reached a new level over the summer as they tried to agree how the 2020 season would play out. It wasn’t just that there were contentious negotiations — that’s not great, but it’s also partially just how this stuff works — but it’s that it was played out through the media, largely through leaks from the side of ownership. It was not how these sorts of things should be handled.

Well, I hope you’re ready for some more. Despite the vaccine starting to roll through the US and frontline workers starting to get their first doses now, it’s not realistic to expect even a majority of the population to be vaccinated by the time the season starts. Hopefully it won’t be too long after, but having fans back in the stands by that point doesn’t seem likely. Because of that, Owners are already anonymously leaking that they don’t see starting the season on time, or playing a full season after a late start. For the reasons listed above and given that they really don’t want another season without fans, it’s not hard to see why they feel that way.

With that being said, they also can’t just unanimously declare that. This isn’t how that works. Any change to the schedule needs to be negotiated with the players. And after that report from USA Today made the rounds earlier this week, the union came right back and publicly said they are planning on being at spring training on time in preparation for a normal season. Again, understandable. Players just took a shortened season’s salary. They don’t want to do that again.

I’m not even going to get into the pros and cons or any value judgements on starting the season on time. Right now it seems like it would be silly given where we are as a country with the virus, but who knows what things will look like in two months. My bigger concern is that this is all playing out publicly again. And it’s worth noting one side put a name on their statement. The other did not. Even if we put aside what this means for future negotiations for the CBA that expires after this season, it’s just not what anyone needs right now. These negotiations are important, and the affect not only the players and owners but many other people whose lives depend on the season happening and happening safely. Just do it behind closed doors this time. That’s literally all I’m asking. It’s a low bar, and I have very little faith it will be cleared.

Rangers trade Rafael Montero to the Mariners

In more typical offseason news, the Rangers have made another move. Texas has been one of the busiest teams in the offseason to this point, and on Wednesday they made a trade with one of their division rivals, sending right-handed pitcher Rafael Montero to the Mariners in exchange for minor-league righty Jose Corniell.

Montero is a former top prospect in the Mets organization who never quite panned out as a starter. He disappeared from the majors for a bit after undergoing Tommy John, but re-emerged in Texas’s bullpen in the middle of 2019 and has proven solid in that role. Over the last couple of seasons, he has pitched to a 3.09 ERA over 46 23 innings with 53 strikeouts and 11 walks. The stuff is playing up in the bullpen, and more importantly he has shown an ability to control the zone much better in shorter stints than he did as a starter. He is under team control for two more seasons, giving the rebuilding Mariners a solid multi-year player who could be kept for a couple of years to solidify their bullpen or used as a trade chip themselves either next summer or next winter.

On the other side of the equation, the Rangers are continuing a rebuild of their own and are doing what they can to infuse some youth into the organization. Corniell is a 17-year-old who has yet to make his professional debut due to the lack of minor-league ball in 2020.