Ex-Tiger Tony Clark: One-third of MLB teams not trying to win title

George Sipple, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Baseball

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Tony Clark doesn't approve of some of baseball's best players remaining unsigned. Neither does Detroit Tigers catcher James McCann.

Clark, the ex-Tiger who now serves as executive director of the MLB Players Association, took questions from McCann and other Tigers players on Tuesday at Joker Marchant Stadium.

Clark later told reporters there were "significant concerns" about the competitive integrity of Major League Baseball, adding that "upwards of one-third" of all MLB teams are "not as interested in being the last team standing."

Clark's talking about World Series championships, and he's concerned some teams are more worried about trimming payroll than fielding the best team possible.

"When we take the field every day, we want to play against the best of the best," McCann said Tuesday after Tuesday's 7-2 loss to the Yankees at Joker Marchant Stadium. "When you look at the guys that are unsigned, there's a lot of players that would be considered the best of the best. That takes away from the competitive integrity of the game."

Among the top unsigned free-agent pitchers are Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta, and All-Stars Lance Lynn and Greg Holland.

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Third baseman Mike Moustakas, catcher Jonathan Lucroy, second baseman Neil Walker and outfielder Carlos Gonzalez are among the top position players on the market. Moustakas, Lucroy and Gonzalez have made multiple All-Star games. Walker was a Silver Slugger Award winner in 2014.

"When you have a historical number of free agents on the market, when you have a historical number combined with the quality of the free agents on the market, it begs the question as to whether or not there is an interest across all 30 teams to be the last team standing," Clark said. "And to the extent that we are in a climate that that does not appear to be the case, it is a concern."

The MLBPA filed a grievance in February against four teams -- the Pirates, Marlins, Athletics and Rays -- for not complying with rules on how to spend their revenue-sharing money, as outlined in the latest collective bargaining agreement.

Those clubs have been revenue-sharing recipients but remain in the bottom-third of all MLB teams in terms of payroll.


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