The MLB players union has filed a grievance against the A’s, Marlins, Pirates and Rays, as first reported by Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
The grievance alleges that the four teams have failed to comply with the collectively bargained rules requiring teams to spend their revenue sharing money “in an effort to improve its performance on the field.”
The grievance applies to the 2017 season and the current offseason, according to the Times.
“We have received the grievance and believe it has no merit,” MLB said in a statement. Pirates president Frank Coonelly issued a statement calling the grievance “patently baseless.”
Revenue sharing amounts vary from team to team—the A’s are in the process of being phased out of revenue sharing altogether because they play in a large market—but the Rays are believed to receive about $45 million per year, according to the Times. The latest collective bargaining agreement between the league and the union requires teams to pay that money to players, coaches or player-development personnel.
The union announced last month that it had notified commissioner Rob Manfred it would examine the Pirates’ and Marlins’ use of revenue sharing funds. Though Miami’s offseason fire sale was the most dramatic in baseball this winter, the Pirates also traded Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen, saving about $19 million. Pittsburgh also made an effectively cash-neutral deal in acquiring Corey Dickerson from the Rays in exchange for Daniel Hudson and a prospect.
The league and the union have been trading barbs all winter long over the stagnant free-agent market and depressed contract values.
None of the four teams named in the complaint have signed a major free agent this winter. Oakland’s most expensive signing was Yusmeiro Petit for two years and $10 million; the Pirates have only signed two players to minor-league deals, though they did sign Felipe Rivero to a four-year, $22 million extension; the Rays’ biggest deal was one year and $4 million for Carlos Gomez; Miami signed Cameron Maybin for $3.25 million over one year.