Ronald Acuna, meet Kris Bryant.
Earlier, the Braves decided that someone (Acuna) who posted a .519/.727 OBP/SLG slash line in 52 Grapefruit League plate appearances wasn’t worthy of starting the season with the big league team.
“52 plate appearances? In spring training? Who cares?” you say?
Fair enough. But how about adding that to a 1.053 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. And on top of that, how about a .393/.548 OBP/SLG line with 162 wRC+ in AAA last season…at age 19…?
Reminder: This is The Braves. They finished 25 games behind the Nationals last season.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is about the Braves exploiting the rules to keep Acuna under team control for an additional season (172 days in the big leagues constitutes a year of service time, so by delaying a call up, the player won’t get 172 days this season) and that similar to Kris Bryant with the Cubs three years ago, a grievance may be filed by the MLBPA against the Braves. Rightfully so: Acuna is obviously one of the best players on the Braves.
Now if you want to say that the Braves are playing by the rules that the MLBPA agreed to in the CBA, go right ahead. Tony Clark is a good piñata lately. I wouldn’t tell you you’re wrong.
I also don’t want to get into the legalities of a grievance. I’m not a lawyer, but I am a business owner, and I know that the term “good faith and fair dealings” is one that’s taken seriously in the ownership/labor world. I.e., if one is acting in bad faith outside what would be considered the mutual best interests, there will be a price to pay. And one can certainly make a case that the Braves not playing their best players is an example of a team not trying to win.
What I do want to note to the fan base, in anticipation of labor hassles, soon or far off, is to remember two things:
Before saying nonsense like “who cares about MLB players being exploited, they’re millionaires!” or how MLB players are “lucky” to be playing a game for a living, consider:
- Baseball owners have exploited fans right along with players for over a century. Be careful whose side you choose.
- You are not one of the top .0000000001% in your field. Ronald Acuna, and every other major league player, IS. I get we see things through our own prism, but allow MLB players to do the same. Being exploited by the men you are making far richer than you’ll ever be can be frustrating.
Well I can only imagine so. Because you and I had a better chance of being struck by lightning, winning the lottery and being eaten by a shark on the same day than to be born with enough talent to play MLB.
*Thanks to Sheryl Ring and Joe Sheehan for doing some of the homework included herein for me.