MLBPA launching investigation after Braves GM's statement suggests collusion

A statement from Alex Anthopoulos is under scrutiny from the MLBPA as MLB free agency gets underway. (Melissa Renwick/Getty Images)
A statement from Alex Anthopoulos is under scrutiny from the MLBPA as MLB free agency gets underway. (Melissa Renwick/Getty Images)

After a frigid market following the 2018 season that saw baseball free agents struggle to strike deals, the MLBPA is getting out in front of things this year.

MLBPA executive director Tony Clark announced on Wednesday that his organization is launching an investigation into statements made by Atlanta Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos this week regarding free agency.

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Per the MLBPA statement, Anthopoulos told reporters that he had been in contact with other teams regarding free agency.

“Every day you get more information,’’ Anthopoulos said. “And we’ve had time to connect with 27 of the clubs – obviously the Astros and (Nationals) being in the World Series, they were tied up – but we had a chance to get a sense of what the other clubs are going to look to do in free agency, who might be available in trades.”

‘Clear description of club coordination’

Clark responded that Anthopoulos’ statement amounted to coordination between teams regarding free agency, which would constitute a violation of the collective bargaining agreement.

"The statements made by Braves GM Alex Anthopoulos call into question the integrity of the entire free-agent system,’’ Clark said in a statement. “The clear description of club coordination is egregious, and we have launched an immediate investigation looking into the matter.”

What was Anthopoulos’ intent?

Anthopoulos’ words are up for interpretation. It’s unlikely that he chose to intentionally broadcast a plan to collude while speaking with media members. He could have simply been talking about team building strategy in terms of due diligence on the trade market.

But suggesting that he and management from other teams are openly discussing free agency opens them up to reasonable scrutiny from the MLBPA, especially in light of last year’s cold market.

The CBA states that “Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs."

By those terms, Anthopoulos appeared to admit to broaching a line prohibited by the CBA.

With free agency technically underway, the MLBPA is playing its role on protecting its constituents.

Anthopoulos issues statement

In wake of the firestorm created by his comment, Anthopoulos released the following statement late Wednesday.

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