Unless it’s the trading period, no MLB team is allowed to discuss the future of free agents such as Aaron Judge or Justin Verlander. Unfortunately, an article from The Athletic revealed a paragraph from the Mets’ television station’s website where they hint a discussion took place between the New York Yankeesand the New York Mets about Judge.
The slugger recently became a free agent and his future is still in the air. His record-breaking season will likely grant him the American League MVP Award later on Thursday and probably the highest contract for any player in the sport’s history. Although talks between clubs can happen in secret, the MLB strictly forbids this to leak to the media.
The MLB Players Association urges for an investigation
After the possible communication between both ball clubs was revealed through the outlet, the MLB Players Association urged the league to investigate the apparrent rule violation. But MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred told the media he trusts both teams: “I am absolutely confident that the clubs behaved in a way that was consistent with the [CBA]. We will put ourselves in a position to demonstrate credibly to the MLBPA that this is not an issue. I’m sure that’s going to be the outcome. But obviously we understand the emotion that surrounds that word [collusion] and we’ll proceed accordingly.”
According to protocol when this happens, the MLB‘s responsibility is to request records of phone calls, texts and emails between clubs and media outlets in order to conduct a proper investigation on the matter. According to past CBAs, nobody who is involved in the free agent process is allowed to make any type of comment to the media about the value of free agents who are unsigned.
It doesn’t matter if discussions took place, what matters is that the media can’t publish anything related to a free agent’s future. This practice in professional baseball is known as collusion. Any dealing published in the press leaves the involved free agent completely unprotected and it makes his decision to pick his next ball club that more difficult. It is clearly a conflict of interests.