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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Fine for Yankees being considered in tampering case with Mike Trout

Commissioner Bud Selig is considering whether to fine the New York Yankees for tampering, the result of an investigation triggered by Yankees President Randy Levine’s comment last winter that he would offer Angels outfielder Mike Trout a 10-year contract.

The potential fine was disclosed by two people with knowledge of the matter but not authorized to comment about it. The amount of the possible fine was not disclosed.

The Angels were furious Levine dropped Trout’s name into a December interview about why the Yankees declined to match the 10-year contract the Seattle Mariners offered to 31-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano.

“If it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a 10-year contract,” Levine told reporters in New York. “But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense.”...

Levine apologized to the Angels for his remarks on the day he made them, telling the New York Daily News he realized they “could be misconstrued.”...

In October, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson said his free-spending team would not bid for Cano.

“I can’t talk about the other guy, the guy in New York. He’s going to get paid—not by us, but he’s going to get paid,” Johnson said. “When you’re a superstar, you get paid. We understand that.”

It is believed that the Dodgers were not disciplined—Johnson was a rookie owner and not the team’s chief executive—but Johnson was asked to be mindful of the effects his public comments could have.

The polite way of saying Magic is an “owner” like Paula Abdul was a “singing judge.”

The District Attorney Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:13 PM | 28 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: angels, mike trout, yankees

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:34 PM (#4685607)
reason number 1,805,038 to hate lawyers, the fact that this innocuous comment is worthy of a fine.
   2. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4685609)
What's wrong with Magic's comment?
   3. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4685616)
I think Magic's comment is much worse than Levine's. Levine's is about a theoretical possibility, while Magic's is about an actual player who was available on the market.

Him specifically mentioning that his team isn't pursuing Cano hurts Cano's marketing position. There should be no factual comments out there about what a team is doing in regards to an individual free agent.
   4. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:49 PM (#4685617)
In October, nobody except the Yankees was allowed to negotiate with Cano. Saying "he's going to get paid" is dangerously close to saying "if you don't sign with the Yankees right now, we are going to give you a large amount of money." which is tampering.

Levine's comments say to Trout "if you refuse to sign with the Angels, we are going to throw a mountain of money at you" which is again, tampering. Though neither is explicit tampering, which is why Johnson just got a warning and Levine is just going to get a monetary fine, rather than losing a draft pick.
   5. BDC Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:53 PM (#4685618)
I understand why these remarks are censured, but it does seem a bit like fining somebody for thinking the bloody obvious aloud.
   6. Howie Menckel Posted: April 13, 2014 at 06:56 PM (#4685621)

and they said it was impossible to make Randy Levine a sympathetic figure!
   7. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 07:06 PM (#4685625)
Levine's comments say to Trout "if you refuse to sign with the Angels, we are going to throw a mountain of money at you" which is again, tampering. Though neither is explicit tampering, which is why Johnson just got a warning and Levine is just going to get a monetary fine, rather than losing a draft pick


The problem with the Trout comment is that it's 4+ years away, and was an illustrative point more than a specific direction that the Yankees were going. Levine was saying..if Cano was young, like Trout, and a free agent, then they would offer him a 10 year contract. It wasn't really directed towards anything that the Yankees would do in regards to Trout when he becomes a free agent.
   8. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: April 13, 2014 at 07:44 PM (#4685642)
The problem with the Trout comment is that it's 4+ years away, and was an illustrative point more than a specific direction that the Yankees were going. Levine was saying..if Cano was young, like Trout, and a free agent, then they would offer him a 10 year contract. It wasn't really directed towards anything that the Yankees would do in regards to Trout when he becomes a free agent.

All pretty obvious, but OTOH if Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo complain about it, then Selig is obliged to take action.
   9. Walt Davis Posted: April 13, 2014 at 08:21 PM (#4685657)
All pretty obvious, but OTOH if Jerry Remy and Don Orsillo complain about it, then Selig is obliged to take action.

Perhaps he should form an investigative committee headed by George Mitchell.
   10. Arbitol Dijaler Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:21 PM (#4685678)
In October, nobody except the Yankees was allowed to negotiate with Cano. Saying "he's going to get paid" is dangerously close to saying "if you don't sign with the Yankees right now, we are going to give you a large amount of money." which is tampering.


He said "not by us." That Robbie Cano was going to "get paid" was stating the obvious.
   11. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:43 PM (#4685689)
He said "not by us."


And that is just as bad, it signals that his team isn't going to pursue Cano and tells other teams, that one of the two biggest spenders out there isn't in the market for this particular free agent.
   12. BDC Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:48 PM (#4685693)
But all he said was "the guy in New York," right? Maybe he meant Alec Baldwin.
   13. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: April 13, 2014 at 09:50 PM (#4685694)
And that is just as bad, it signals that his team isn't going to pursue Cano and tells other teams, that one of the two biggest spenders out there isn't in the market for this particular free agent.
I get the feeling MLB only cares about tampering if the action is perceived to possibly raise a player's value. Possibly lowering a player's contract value doesn't seem to bother MLB at all. (Might bother the players or their agents, and they'll raise a stink, but probably doesn't bother MLB. )
   14. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:07 PM (#4685700)
"Forget about a Johnny Damon, Part II, happening in the Bronx this year. New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman put a pretty definitive 'No' on the idea that Damon could serve as a short-term replacement for the injured Curtis Granderson on Tuesday, saying, 'It's just not something we're going to pursue.'" - ESPN, 2/26/13

"Brian Cashman says you can rule out the Yankees signing Brian Wilson. His agent told team he won't shave beard. True story, Cashman says." - Yahoo Sports 11/13/13

"Texas Rangers president and CEO Nolan Ryan said the team likely won’t get too involved in the market for first basemen Albert Pujols or Prince Fielder this offseason. 'Making a seven-or-eight year deal for Fielder or Pujols is not something our organization is prepared to do. I very much expect Mitch Moreland to be our first baseman next year.'” - Star-Telegram, 11/11/11

Teams do this stuff all the time. It is absolutely ludicrous to define a team publicly declining to pursue a free agent as "tampering."
   15. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:22 PM (#4685704)
Teams do this stuff all the time. It is absolutely ludicrous to define a team publicly declining to pursue a free agent as "tampering."


Neither player was a free agent.
   16. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:43 PM (#4685712)
Are you referring to the initial article? Cano was a free agent at the time of Johnson's remarks.

   17. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:52 PM (#4685715)
Are you referring to the initial article? Cano was a free agent at the time of Johnson's remarks.


No he wasn't. Johnson made his remarks some time before October 8th 2013... Cano wasn't made a free agent until October 31st of 2013.
   18. Tom Nawrocki Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:58 PM (#4685719)
Cano's contract with the Yankees had expired, although he hadn't technically filed for free agency. So it's a matter of semantics.
   19. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 10:58 PM (#4685720)
Teams do this stuff all the time. It is absolutely ludicrous to define a team publicly declining to pursue a free agent as "tampering."


I wouldn't say that it's tampering, but teams making a public statement could be an end around the collusion rule that the CBA and the players bargained against. The owners wanted to have a central repository to track free agent offers controlled by the league.
   20. cardsfanboy Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:00 PM (#4685721)
Cano's contract with the Yankees had expired, although he hadn't technically filed for free agency. So it's a matter of semantics.


Not in the slightest. Cano wasn't a free agent, the Yankees had exclusive negotiating rights, it's far from semantics.
   21. valuearbitrageur Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:18 PM (#4685725)
Yea, it's not semantics, if the league draws a line it's at October 31st.
   22. OCD SS Posted: April 13, 2014 at 11:23 PM (#4685727)
Seems pretty obvious:

MJ's comment was a negative, saying his team wouldn't do something. Teams (or sources presumed to be speaking for them) do that all the time (and are often proven to not be correct/ truthful; see Damon, J). I can see why the player's union would like to keep these comments out of the media, but they didn't hurt the Yankees' bargaining position with Cano.

OTOH saying you would give a 10 year contract to a player 4 years away from FA and under control of another team who is probably trying to sign said player to an extension definitely gives the player leverage against that team, and is pretty clearly tampering. Even if he didn't mean his comments that way, I can see why the Angels would be pissed and why other owners would want to curb those sorts of comments. It's also a pretty minor infraction, hence just a fine...
   23. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: April 14, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4685746)
All I know is that the Yankees are wrong. I'll let the plethora of legal eagles on this site sort out the language, but any instance where there is a possibility of something being misconstrued, the Yankees are always, by default, wrong.
   24. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: April 14, 2014 at 07:13 AM (#4685768)
Re 23: That's incredibly, ridiculously unfair. And I support it wholeheratedly.
   25. Infinite Joost (Voxter) Posted: April 14, 2014 at 09:10 AM (#4685788)
Contract the Yankees!
   26. Pat Rapper's Delight Posted: April 14, 2014 at 11:16 AM (#4685868)
Re 23: That's incredibly, ridiculously unfair. And I support it wholeheratedly.

I'd settle for an NCAA-style postseason ban for 3-5 years and loss of some luxury tax threshold space. Seems fair given the egregiously heinous nature of the crime.
   27. God Posted: April 14, 2014 at 06:49 PM (#4686167)
I think the determining factor here is that Levine actually said the words "Mike Trout" whereas Magic was vague. He never said he was talking about Cano. He said "the guy in New York," which could be a reference to Randy Levine for all we know.

In the real world, everyone knows who Magic was talking about. But it seems he was savvy enough to stay outside the technical definition of tampering.
   28. The Yankee Clapper Posted: April 14, 2014 at 08:27 PM (#4686206)
I think the determining factor here is that Levine actually said the words "Mike Trout" whereas Magic was vague.

I'd prefer an intent to tamper standard rather than parsing the language so closely. Levine could have formulated why the Yankees declined to offer Cano a 10-year contract several ways:
1. "We'd only go 10 years for the rare player that becomes a free agent at 26."
2. "We'd only go 10 years for the rare player that becomes a free agent at 26, like a Trout or Harper."
3. Or what he actually said.

Not seeing much difference in the formulations, and don't think elevating form over substance is the way to go, but if MLB were to fine the Yankees, I'm sure folks would become more careful about using the magic words.

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