Aaron Judge is this season’s biggest free agent award, but the New York Mets are reportedly not interested.
That’s apparently enough to trigger an MLB investigation.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the league has opened an investigation into whether comments made by Mets sources in an SNY article about the Mets’ reluctance to bid against the Yankees for Judge’s services constitute a violation of the collective bargaining agreement .
The article in question was published on November 3 on the website of the Mets television company and reportedly caught the attention of the MLB Players Association, which requested that the commissioner’s office investigate whether there was any improper communication between Mets owner Steve Cohen and Yankees co-owner Hal Steinbrenner.
The relevant text of the article:
on [April 8, the day Judge rejected the Yankees’ final extension offer], Mets sources said they had no plans to fight the Yankees for Judge this offseason. With the free desk starting next week, that hasn’t changed.
Talking to Mets people all year long about this, the team in Queens sees Judge as a Yankee, uniquely tailored to be an icon in their uniform, stadium and branding efforts. Owners Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner have a mutually respectful relationship and don’t expect to rock it with a high-profile bidding war.
The only way those involved can see the Mets changing course and chasing Judge is if the Yankees somehow declare themselves completely out of the bidding.
An MLB owner having an agreement with another not to pursue any of his team’s free agents, or even share player information, would be an illegal conspiracy, but it is for the MLB to determine whether that “mutually respectful relationship” fits in there. category.
Reportedly, the league will request Cohen and Steinbrenner for all phone, text and email conversations between them during the relevant time period. The MLBPA also has the right to file a complaint about the situation.
Fortunately for Judge, he thinks he has a big market, even if the Mets’ checkbook is closed. He’s coming off a historic season with 62 home runs and is expected to clinch his first MVP award on Thursday.