Alex Rodriguez, who’s vying to purchase the Mets, made comments Thursday that could win the favor of Major League Baseball owners. However, they’ve already drawn ire from the players’ side. As the Associated Press writes, the retired 14-time All-Star called for today’s players to accept a revenue-sharing system “tied to a salary cap.”
The MLBPA was able to prevent the league from implementing a salary cap during the 1994-95 strike, but Rodriguez believes the players have lost leverage since then because baseball no longer has “a stranglehold on professional sports.” Rodriguez cited the increased popularity of the NFL and NBA and the rise of various digital media platforms as factors that have hurt baseball over the past two-plus decades. As a result, the owners and players must “really work collaborative” in an effort to return the game to the top.
How can they do that? In Rodriguez’s estimation, “The only way it’s going to happen is if they get to the table and say the No. 1 goal, let’s get from $10 to $15 billion and then we’ll split the economics evenly.”
Union chief Tony Clark fired back, stating: “Alex benefited as much as anybody from the battles this union fought against owners’ repeated attempts to get a salary cap. Now that he is attempting to become an owner himself his perspective appears to be different. And that perspective does not reflect the best interests of the players.”
As the highest-paid player in the history of the game, Rodriguez certainly did benefit from the cap-less setup when he was in the league. The former Mariner, Ranger and Yankee earned over $441MM in salaries according to Baseball Reference, which makes his comments especially surprising and, in some quarters, quite unpopular.
Former major league right-hander and current Rangers special assistant Brandon McCarthy was among those to voice vehement opposition to A-Rod’s observations, tweeting Thursday he hopes Rodriguez – now a television analyst – is “shouted out of every clubhouse he attempts to enter in this and future seasons. Call him a self-serving liar and make him explain himself to a room full of his former peers if he wants broadcast content.”
Rodriguez subsequently took to Twitter in the early hours of the morning Friday to issue a statement.
“Yesterday, when I was asked about the CBA expiring in 2021, I answered honestly, but never mentioned the word salary cap,” Rodriguez wrote. “My goal as a broadcaster and more importantly as a fan of the sport is to grow our game. I suggested on the call that both sides – players and owners – work together to make baseball as big as the NFL and the NBA. I’ve been in contact with Tony Clark, the executive director of the MLBPA, to make sure we’re aligned in taking our sport to the next level and showcasing the world’s best athletes.”
Regardless of whether Rodriguez’s star-studded group does land the Mets, the owners and players figure to be in for a contentious showdown when the CBA expires in December 2021. The two sides engaged in an all-too-public, months-long spat over finances during the COVID-19 shutdown, and with no agreement reached on regular-season length, commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally imposed a 60-game schedule that will begin July 23. The hope is that the two sides’ bitterness toward one another will subside enough in the next year-plus that they’ll be able to peacefully negotiate a new CBA, but that may be unrealistic in light of how the past several months have gone.