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Sunday, April 14, 2024
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MLB Union’s Top Negotiator Denies Being a Scott Boras Lackey

  • The union has been accused, for years, of giving preferential treatment to Boras.
  • The players have no hard evidence for their accusations of favoritism.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Spring finally arrived this week, and maybe no one is happier than Scott Boras, who had one of the most publicly trying winters of his legendary career as an MLB agent.

First, his clients flailed on the open market, and a marquee one, Jordan Montgomery, remains unsigned with Opening Day less than a week away. Then the MLB Players Association was rocked by unusually public claims that its lead negotiator was merely a puppet of Boras. That negotiator recently headed to the keyboard in an attempt to keep his job. 

Bruce Meyer, the deputy director of the MLBPA, emailed the players a SparkNotes of his achievements in an attempt to push back on the critics calling for his job, in a 2,200-word message published in The Athletic on Friday morning

A fight has been boiling over in the MLBPA in public this week, with a group of players reportedly calling for executive director Bruce Meyer to be replaced with upstart lawyer Harry Marino. Meyer negotiated the last collective bargaining agreement, while Marino, a former minor player, was instrumental in unionizing the minors and recently left the MLBPA. Marino is nearly three decades younger than Meyer, who is 62.

The pro-Marino faction has accused Meyer of being in the tank for Boras. Boras represents more players than any other agent—including many prominent ones such as Pete Alonso, Max Scherzer, and the recently signed Blake Snell—and has drawn the ire of his peers and the league office throughout his career. 

Boras’s aggressive negotiating style has been a pain in MLB owners’ side for decades, and his results have made it tough for his peers to compete with him when pursuing the same client. His opponents in the union fight are saying out loud what has been whispered for years: Boras pushes for economic structures that favor his premium clients over the game’s much larger middle and lower classes.

“From the moment I was hired, if not before, MLB began demonizing me both privately and publicly,” Meyer wrote in a letter reviewed by The Athletic. “Among other things, one of their strategies was to spread the lie that I had been somehow hired at the behest of Scott Boras and was therefore beholden to him. This lie, which has taken many forms over the years, was a calculated (and time-honored) management strategy. To state unequivocally: At the time I was hired I had never in my life met or even spoken to Scott Boras.”

In 2021, Meyer called the Boras allegations “absurd.” On Tuesday, Boras called Marino’s attempted takeover “a coup.” 

Meyer’s fate still hangs in the balance, which means the drama could continue into Opening Day and beyond if it remains unresolved. The veteran lawyer argued in his letter that the real change needed, if players wanted a better deal from owners, wasn’t from union leadership but within the union itself. “Anyone selling to players the notion that they have the unique ability to get major gains from MLB without the prospect of a work stoppage is selling a fantasy, as borne out by the entire nearly 60 year history of this union,” he wrote.

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