SARASOTA, Fla. - Tony Clark is the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association. He heads up the players union and met with the Orioles today at Ed Smith Stadium. After his meeting with the team he took questions from the Baltimore media. He are a few of them and his answers.
What is the concern level of so many free agent players signing late or currently unsigned?: “We’ve got players that see guys at home that can help clubs win ballgames. Guys that have earned their free agency rights, yet don’t find themselves having a home with a week and a half left in spring. Guys are concerned about the well-being of our industry as a whole.”
Clark was asked his take on the rebuilding Orioles who have trimmed their payroll from last year: “We are interested in seeing what they do moving forward. Every offseason we understand there are teams that recycle or rebuild. We just haven’t seen as many teams doing it seemingly at the same time as we are seeing now. We know that a number of players that were here are no longer here. We know that there are still a handul of guys here and there are young guys here looking to establish themselves. But we will be keeping an eye Baltimore as we do the other 29 teams as well as to what they do in the near term and perhaps what their plan is in the longer term to see whether to what extent there are further discussions that may need to be had.”
Clark on Adam Jones signing late and seemingly limited market: “I think a number of players should have had opportunities that they have not appeared to have had. And Adam was obviously one of them. We have a number of guys that can undoubtedly help teams win ballgames that are still home. It was I believe unfortunate that Adam was on the market as long as he was. And there weren’t more teams interested in what he brings to the park as a leader on the field and am ambassador off of it. So, whether it was Adam or other players that have recently signed or players that are sitting at home, the concern is still the same.
Are players concerns different in a clubhouse like the Orioles with a younger team than one with a bigger market team that is contending like the Yankees?: “Not as much. What is interesting in this clubhouse or one of the other 29, there’s an understanding, probaby moreso than we’ve seen in some time that you are connected to the guys that are in that clubhouse. Despite not wearing the same uniform. Guys appreciate they are part of a larger puzzle.”
What is the stance on teams seemingly analyzing the performance of older players differently now. Any concern?: “It’s concerning when there are aspects of the game that don’t turn up on the stat sheet that are not being valued as part of that overall conversation. I appreciate the analytics and how teams value whatever it is they think they should value. But there are characteristics in our game that aren’t quantifyable, that don’t show up on a stat sheet that in the course of 162 games are vital to a club. Analytics are one piece of the conversation.”
Can the players and owners find an economic common ground before the expiration of the latest collective bargaining agreement in December of 2021?: “Cautiously optimistic. We have an opportunity to have a conversation that wasn’t on the horizon in the middle of last season. I believe that gives us a chance to work through the challenges we see in the system that we don’t think are sustainable and in everyone’s best interest. We look forward to how that manifests itself.”
On Chris Davis as the new Orioles player rep suceeding Darren O’Day: “CD has been through and seen and done a lot in our game. And so, with him in his current position, there is the ability to draw on experience and expertise that very few have had. And so we’re glad he has taken on that role. There has always been a quality person, a veteran player in that leadership role here. And we know CD will continue that trend.”