Wednesday, November 14, 2018
  • The Heater
  • Marc Topkin

Players union has its own reasons for wanting Rays to get a new stadium

As the head of any union would, and should, MLB Players Association chief Tony Clark views every issue through the prism of how it could impact, and benefit, its members.

Which means that in the case of the Rays' pursuit of a new stadium to replace Tropicana Field, the union is also among those hoping for resolution sooner than later.

And in this case, because the new facility will allow the Rays to generate more revenue which then can be used  — as they see it — to increase the payroll and be spent on players.

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"We're encouraged by every team being in the best position possible to maximize the value that we know it has,"  Clark said after meeting with the Rays Monday as part of the annual spring camps tour.  "It's been a longstanding discussion, or conversation, in regards to the facility that the team is currently in. We know there's been a lot of dialogue about possibilities, locations, and how that could be beneficial.

"To the extent that a decision is made sooner rather than later that puts the organization in the best position possible to maximize its value, we're always interested in that. So we're hopeful that considerations can be made sooner rather than later such that a team like the Rays can become what it's capable of becoming, particularly against the backdrop of the challenges that it appears to be having with the current situation."

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Among other seemingly Rays-related topics, Clark assigned blame for the unprecedentedly overall slow free-agent market this offseason on teams, as he put it, not trying to be "the last team standing."

Noting a "historic" number of free agents, many of whom are "remarkable" players, Clark said, "we have upwards of a third of the league that appears to be more interested in shedding payroll, not being the last team standing.

"From a competitive standpoint, if you have a third of the league functioning that way it can't help but adversely affect how any particular market functions.  That's not to suggest that we don't understand there are cycles that teams go through and we understand that each offseason there are one, two, three teams that do normally, or often, go through it. But we don't find ourselves where a third of the league is in that place.

"And when you have a CBA that's grounded in the fundamentals of competition and competitive integrity and that there is a distinct interest in not being as competitive as the players or even the fans that are supporting those teams are not as interested as you'd like them to be, it presents some challenges."

Clark never brought up the word "collusion" but said the union would do research once the season starts and talk with agents about specific offers and interest in players and, "based on what we see and hear, will determine if there is any next next there."

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