SARASOTA, Fla. – On his visit to Orioles training camp, Players Association Executive Director Tony Clark voiced concerns about the Dexter Fowler mess of this past week.
“I always have concerns when there appear to be public misses related to a player, related to a player’s physical, related to any number of things tied to a negotiation between a club and a player. I think it is disappointing that we live in a world where it is more important to be first than it is to be right, and it’s a very dangerous place to exist when information makes its way out that may not be 100 percent accurate,” Clark said.”
Reports surfaced Tuesday night that Fowler had agreed to a three-year, $33 million contract, but two days later when he was expected in Orioles camp, the Chicago Cubs announced he’d signed with them instead.
“Regardless of what the information is and helps to change or sway the dialogue on one side of the equation or the other. I look forward to having a conversation on how everyone can be a little more diligent in that regard in the best interest of the entire industry.”
After Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette explained that the team doesn’t offer opt-out clauses and that Fowler wanted one, his agent, Casey Close, sent out a scathing statement harshly criticizing the Orioles.
“An agent has the ability to issue the statement that it issued,” Clark said. “To say we have concerns is an understatement.”
Clark says he has concerns about negotiations leaking.
“What is our responsibility? Offering anything publicly about a negotiation I don’t know is in anyone’s best interest. And rest assured, I can appreciate that different groups and different segments of both sides of the equation offer information at any given time that they may think is beneficial,” Clark said.
“I can appreciate there are some that do that. But the truth is, we are playing a very dangerous game here in respect to the information that’s being offered, whether it’s accurate or not. While I can appreciate that information is king, content is king, data is king, if we spent time correcting all the false statements that were out there, we would have to create a branch that is adjacent to our communications department and I’m sure would have to be created on the agent’s side, as well.”
Clark briefed the players on the upcoming negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement. Those talks will begin shortly and the current CBA expires Dec. 1.
“There are some very dangerous lines that are being crossed and tip-toed with respect to information that is finding its way. That concern is one that resonates here and resonates in other situations. It’s something that we do take seriously and are paying a lot of attention to, so I don’t know that anyone is going to have an appreciation for how all the moving pieces fit or didn’t fit here, but I will suggest that how it all played out is disheartening and shouldn’t have played out in the fashion that it did,” Clark said.