Notes: Other teams unhappy with A’s, gambling, Scott Boras axed

Catching up on a week of news that wouldn’t stop.

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Last week, Buster Olney tweeted out something that made the whole internet groan. Not at Olney — not this time — but at pretty much all of MLB. You can probably figure out why just from reading what was said:

Within other organizations, there is a lot of disgust with how the A’s have handled the ballpark situation — especially when there’s no actual ballpark plan settled in Las Vegas. And there is an assumption the A’s will tank in the next few years, because their revenue stream will be down to a trickle. “This makes us all look bad,” said one person.

This was met with a chorus of “why did they approve the A’s move, then?!” which, understandable. A few things I’ve been thinking about, though, that should get a mention. For one, Olney doesn’t clarify whether this is from an owner, or an executive who happens to work for one, who had nothing to do with the move being allowed. It would be helpful if we knew: my guess is that it’s an executive who knows how bad of a look this is, and not one of the owners, who by and large are too removed from humanity to ever consider how something will make them “look” to people at large.

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Maybe the new Orioles’ owner will extend their exciting young players

The Orioles promoted another top prospect, which is as good a time as any to wonder if things will be different now.

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Happy Jackson Holliday… day. The son of Matt Holliday is also the top prospect in the Orioles system, and, an even bigger deal, also the minors just in general. The when of the call-up is a bit weird, since the O’s didn’t let him start the season in the majors but he’s still been promoted early enough that he’s eligible for the “don’t manipulate service time” prize at the end of the season, but hey. He’s here now. Neat.

So, it’s a good time to remind everyone of what John Angelos, the previous principal owner of the Orioles, thought about extending their young players so that their competitive window could stay open for longer, even if it cost more than when these guys are all league-minimum or close to it players:

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Why are the A’s allowed to be this way?

The A’s are moving to Sacramento temporarily, so let’s remind ourselves of why this is happening at all.

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On Thursday, it was announced by the A’s that they would be spending the 2025-2027 seasons (and possibly 2028’s) playing their home games in Sacramento, at a Triple-A stadium. Not just in terms of what team already plays there, but also in terms of its facilities, per former player Trevor Hildenberger.

The move isn’t fully official, since the Players Association still has a say in whether those facilities are going to be on par with what’s required (which might require forcing them to be improved somehow, perhaps), but that’s not the focus of today’s wonderings. Let’s unpack some social media posts from yesterday. Nothing dramatic happened, it’s just to set the scene of the question being answered.

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Kansas City votes against the Royals, A’s and Oakland remain far apart on lease

The Johns are at it again.

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One of the first tests for whether Kansas City would hand over hundreds of millions of dollars to the Royals for a new stadium was given on Tuesday night. Good news, if you’re not an employee with the Royals: the voters rejected the proposal. Neil deMause has the details and some thoughts about what might happen next over at Field of Schemes.

All it took was a little bit of math by me — a non-math person — months ago to determine that the Royals are seeking what very well may be the largest publicly subsidy in history for a new stadium and surrounding development:

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Notes: MLBPA, Orioles ownership change, A’s boycott

A normal week, a change of hands via loophole, and John Fisher getting embarrassed. A busy Friday, really.

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As promised, my latest for Baseball Prospectus is a reaction to the news that there is a whole lot of internal grumbling going on in the Players Association — grumbling that, for a brief time, made it look as if there was going to be major leadership turnover in the form of lead negotiator and deputy director Bruce Meyer and executive director Tony Clark losing their jobs.

That time has passed, however, the worst possible damage from the storm now evaded. However, that storm is not quite finished. Luckily, as I get into, everything left is honestly just normal business: the kind of behaviors that you’d expect from a union that is nearly six times the size now as it was when it signed the 2022 MLB collective bargaining agreement, thanks to the addition of 5,400 minor leaguers as a sub-unit under the PA’s umbrella.

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Peter Angelos was an MLB owner from another time

Peter Angelos, 94, passed away this weekend, shortly before a sale of the team he’s owned for decades takes place.

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Given you’re reading a newsletter dedicated to sports labor, and especially in baseball, chances are good that you’re aware that Orioles’ owner Peter Angelos, who passed away over the weekend at the age of 94, refused to use scabbing replacement players during spring training in 1995. It’s been mentioned in every obituary and reflection on his professional life that’s come out since, but that’s because it’s still worth pointing out — especially in today’s climate, where it’s unlikely you could find an owner willing to go against the majority on practically anything, never mind something that was anti-labor and pro-ownership.

The thing is, this wasn’t some random act by Angelos. And not even in the sense that Angelos was a union and personal injury lawyer whose practice made a point of representing “working men and women since 1961.” Angelos purchased the Orioles in 1993, and then made enemies of practically every other owner in the course of a year. Here’s the Washington Post on Angelos, from February 5, 1995:

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Notes: J.D. Davis, MLBPA’s ‘coup’ attempt

Loopholes and growing pains.

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My latest for Baseball Prospectus published on Thursday, and it covered the J.D. Davis/Giants saga. Davis was awarded a $6.9 million salary in arbitration for the 2024 season, and then the Giants signed free agent Matt Chapman. Davis was shopped around for a trade, placed on waivers for anyone willing to take him and the $6.9 million for ’24, and then, when no one bit on either method of acquisition, San Francisco cut him.

They did so using what was described as a loophole in the collective bargaining agreement, but as I got into for BP, that’s not an entirely accurate way to explain what went down. What the Giants did was not great, in the sense they made a move they needed to make in a way that is only technically correct if you’re willing to grant them a whole lot of leeway on the spirit of that rule. Like, to the point of it being a different rule entirely: Davis was not cut because of a sudden injury or decline in his skills, but because the team signed a better player, and only after his arbitration hearing had already come and gone.

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The 2024 season begins in 10 days. Snell, Montgomery are still free agents

What are we even doing here?

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The reigning NL Cy Young award winner, Blake Snell, is still a free agent. The midseason trade pickup that helped propel the Rangers to their first-ever World Series championship, Jordan Montgomery, is also still a free agent. The 2024 Major League Baseball season kicks off on March 28, 10 days from this writing, and yet, the preceding two sentences can exist.

Some hesitation regarding Snell’s future is understandable, given that yes, he did win the Cy Young, but he also did this by allowing the fewest hits per nine of any NL starter — which isn’t exactly something you can bet on repeating to that degree — and his 180 innings is the most he’s thrown since 2018, when he managed two-thirds of a frame more than that en route to his first Cy Young award. It’s not that 180 innings is terrible in this day and age when starters aren’t allowed to pitch deep into games, it’s that Snell’s low inning totals come from a combination of high pitch counts and injuries. He made 32 starts in 2023, and threw at least 100 pitches in 18 of those, so it’s not like he was getting constantly pulled early in his day.

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Notes: Orioles sale gets initial approval, A’s renderings sure do exist

The Orioles move one step closer to their sale, the A’s revealed a stadium they can’t build or won’t do what they say it will, and a note on other people’s coverage.

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Per the Baltimore Sun, Major League Baseball’s ownership committee voted to approve the sale of the Baltimore Orioles to David Rubenstein, which is not the same thing as the sale of the team being approved. For that to happen, at least 23 of the owners would need to vote in favor, but it’s also difficult to imagine any reason why this particular deal would be shot down. Well, alright, maybe a bunch of small-market owners would be upset about another owner coming in to spend more than the current O’s owners do, but this same-ish group of men also let Steve Cohen buy the Mets, so they don’t get too worked up over that sort of thing. Outside of trying to keep Mark Cuban out of their club, anyway.

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It feels like MLB is trying to force a signing deadline

MLB can’t get a salary cap, but they’ve got other ideas for artificially depressing free agent spending.

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It’s March 6. Major League Baseball is weeks into spring training now, and yet, some of the top free agents are still sitting there by the phone, waiting to be signed. It’s a real problem, but what the problem is, exactly, is not something that the league and the Players Association agree on.

MLB wants to institute a signing deadline, for all free agent activity, that’ll create “flurried,” short-term activity in the offseason. They’ve even proposed such a deadline to the union, which was not interested in that kind of arrangement, and have since brought up the fact they proposed it as if it would have been a true solution to the issue. Alden Gonzalez recently wrote about all of this for ESPN:

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