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Alex Rodriguez’s call for MLB players to accept a revenue sharing system, essentially a salary cap system, led to a swift rebuke from the players’ side and a hasty clarification from the New York Yankees great.
After telling the Associated Press that revenue sharing was the best way to raise MLB’s market share, Rodriguez tweeted a statement a few hours later that he never mentioned the word salary cap and only wanted the players and owners to work together.
Rodriguez, who is vying to join MLB ownership with a bid for the New York Mets, also added that he is in contact with MLBPA head Tony Clark, one of the figures to criticize the statement.
What Alex Rodriguez actually said
Here is the quote to the Associated Press that Rodriguez wanted to clarify. Per the AP, Rodriguez was discussing why the MLBPA should work with MLB to help the league compete with the NFL and NBA:
“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,” he said Thursday during a conference call. “But that’s the type of conversation instead of fighting and fighting against each other because there’s too much competition out there right now.”
Rodriguez is correct in noting that he didn’t say “salary cap” in that quote, but the fact remains that the concept of revenue sharing invariably leads to a salary cap on the players’ side. He’s basically saying he didn’t use the word “penny” after talking about the copper coin with Abraham Lincoln on it.
It was only a couple months ago that Clark was blasting MLB’s proposal to institute revenue sharing for the 2020 season, saying “a system that restricts player pay based on revenues is a salary cap, period.”
The premise of a salary cap leading to more league-union harmony also might be flawed given that the NFL, NBA and NHL — all salary cap leagues — have all had work stoppages since MLB’s 1994 player strike, with the salary cap a point of contention for those player unions.
Whether or not Rodriguez used the words “salary cap,” the optics are undeniably bad when he’s calling for MLB players to cooperate with ownership while’s in the middle of bidding to become an owner himself. Especially when we’re talking about the highest-paid player in MLB history, who accrued more than $400 million thanks to market-shattering contracts that would likely never have happened in a salary cap league.
MLBPA, players rip A-Rod
It was in that context why Clark and a few other players were teeing off on Rodriguez, even after his supposed clarification.
Clark’s statement, from ESPN:
“Alex benefited as much as anybody from the battles this union fought against owners’ repeated attempts to get a salary cap,” union head Tony Clark said in a statement. “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.”
You can imagine Rodriguez’s reputation among players won’t improve if his bid to buy the Mets alongside his fiancee Jennifer Lopez and several other partners is successful.
The Rodriguez group has reportedly put up an initial bid of $1.7 billion, well behind hedge fund billionaire Steve Cohen’s reported $2 billion. However, the Rodriguez group is reportedly favored by Mets COO Jeff Wilpon, which could be a major factor if their final bids are close enough.
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