Aaron Judge is the biggest free agent prize of this offseason, but the New York Mets clearly aren’t interested.
That, apparently, is enough to trigger an MLB investigation.
According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, the league has begun an investigation into whether comments by Mets sources in an SNY article about the Mets’ reluctance to bid against the Yankees for Judge’s services are a violation of their collective bargaining agreement.
The article in question was published on the Mets’ television affiliate’s website on November 3 and was reported to be of interest to the MLB Players Association, which has asked the commissioner’s office to investigate alleged inappropriate communications between Mets owner Steve Cohen and the Yankees. co-. owner Hal Steinbrenner.
Relevant text of the article:
Ar [April 8, the day Judge rejected the Yankees’ final extension offer], Mets sources said they did not plan to deal with the Yankees this season for Judge. With free agency set to begin next week, that hasn’t changed.
Talking to Mets people about this all year, the Queens team sees Judge as a Yankee, tailor-made to be an icon in their uniform, stadium and branding efforts. Owners Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner enjoy a mutually respectful relationship, and they don’t expect to squander that with a high-profile bidding war.
The only way people involved with the Mets could see them changing course and pursuing Judge would be if the Yankees declared they were completely out of the bidding.
One MLB owner having an agreement with another not to pursue their team’s free agents, or even share information about players, would be illegal collusion, but it will be up to MLB to decide does that mean a “mutually respectful relationship”. category.
The league is expected to ask Cohen and Steinbrenner to provide records of all phone, text and email conversations between them during the period in question. The MLBPA also has the right to file a complaint about the situation.
Fortunately for Judge, he realizes he has a big-time deal even if the Mets’ checkbook closes. He’s coming off a historic 62-homer season and hopes to win his first MVP award on Thursday, and should see interest from any contender with the budget for a big contract.