Unrest in MLBPA: Players move to oust No. 2 in league

Unrest in MLBPA: Players move to oust No. 2 in league

There is a growing rebellion within the Major League Baseball Players Association. Player leadership in the major and minor leagues confronted CEO Tony Clark on Monday evening, urging him to replace his second-in-command, deputy director Bruce Meyer, with former MLBPA attorney Harry Marino, people briefed on the call who were unaware of the call. He is authorized to speak publicly. An informal vote was taken on the call, but no formal action was taken.

The long and sometimes heated call included some of the 72 player representatives from both the majors and minors. But the call did not end with a clear decision. A person familiar with the meeting said Clark called the meeting after a series of text messages between player representatives questioning Meyer.

Mayer and Marino declined to comment. Clark could not be reached for comment.

Mayer was also in touch on Monday, and Marino was not, despite several players requesting that the latter be present. Mayer and Marino had a tense relationship when they worked together in the MLBPA on the minor league collective bargaining agreement last year. In the call, Mayer accused Marino of coming to his job, a person familiar with the call said.

Many players and agents have long grumbled about the union leadership, suspecting agent Scott Boras of having too much influence, something Boras and the union leadership have always denied. But player agents have perpetuated these complaints for years, especially regarding the fortunes of baseball's middle class.

“It's ridiculous,” Mayer said in 2021 of Boras' claims. “The players run the association. Scott is obviously such an important agent that he represents a lot of players, and we talk to Scott just as we would talk to any agent who wanted to talk to us.

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“I'm hesitant, because the more I dig into it, the more dignity it gets. “But I didn't know Scott when I was hired, and I don't think I met him or spoke to him, for the first ten months I was here.”

Marino was contacted by major league players and agents who were frustrated with the direction of the MLBPA. Some players want to direct more money to the union's negotiating team.

Free agency has been a struggle this winter for non-elite players, including Boras' prospects. Teams other than the Dodgers have spent less than $2 billion combined so far, after clubs spent $3.9 billion a year ago, according to Spotrac. With the Dodgers included, the club's spending is about $2.8 billion this winter — or closer to $2.5 billion when Shohei Ohtani's contract is adjusted to its current value.

Meyer joined the MLBPA in 2018 and was tasked with tightening the group in 2021-22 negotiations after the union performed poorly in collective bargaining in the previous two deals, and his arrival may have saved Clarke's job. The CBA League, at least until this winter, seemed to be generating positive returns. Clark, Meyer and the players appear to have made big gains during the 2021-22 lockout.

Marino left the MLBPA last year after helping minor leaguers bargain for their first CBA minor league job. Previously, as president of the nonprofit Advocates for Minor Leaguers, he was instrumental in getting minor leaguers ready to join unions. He left that organization for the MLBPA when the MLBPA decided it wanted the minor leaguers, too. Marino and Mayer clashed during minor league bargaining, for which Mayer was honorary official but which Marino often led in reality, using relationships with minor league players he had long fostered.

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Minor players now have a big role in running the MLBPA. The Federation's Executive Council includes 72 positions: 38 of which belong to the major leagues, and 34 to the minor leagues.

(Top photo of Meyer: AP Photo/Richard Drew)

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