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Ross Stripling Critical of Owners Negotiation Tactics: ‘They Think We’re Dumb Baseball Players’

Several high-profile MLB players took to social media on Tuesday following commissioner Rob Manfred’s decision to cancel regular season games, and they did not mince words on how they felt about it. On Wednesday, Blue Jays pitcher Ross Stripling elaborated on his frustrations about how negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement have gone, accusing the owners of not bargaining in good faith.

“It was an easy no, man," Stripling said of the union’s decision to reject the league’s most recent proposal, per Shi Davidi and Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet. “Because, we felt like we were giving them a fair offer and they just didn’t budge on it this whole time. Since Dallas in December [when the lockout was implemented], they’ve just hardly budged at all.”

Stripling, who serves as the union-player representative for the Blue Jays, criticized the owners for utilizing what he felt were duplicitous negotiation tactics, particularly as Monday night’s bargaining session continued into the early hours of Tuesday morning.

“It got to be like 12:30 and the fine print of their CBT proposal was stuff we had never seen before,” Stripling said. “They were trying to sneak things through us, it was like they think we’re dumb baseball players and we get sleepy after midnight or something ... They did exactly what we thought they would do. They pushed us to a deadline that they imposed, and then they tried to sneak some s--- past us at that deadline and we were ready for it. We’ve been ready for five years. And then they tried to flip it on us [Tuesday] in PR, saying that we've changed our tone and tried to make it look like it was our fault. That never happened.”

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Stripling arrived in Toronto in 2020 after a trade from the Dodgers. He pitched in 24 games last season (19 starts), going 5–7 with a 4.80 ERA in 101 1/3 innings.

The 32-year-old right-hander said he's unsure of the next steps, but expressed hope that the two sides could meet again soon and continue working toward an agreement. Currently, the first week of regular-season games has been canceled, and it’s unclear at what point Manfred would decide to cancel any additional games.

“In a perfect world, they lick their wounds go back to New York, both sides, and then start back up in two or three days,” Stripling said. “I don’t see this being like it was after Dallas, where it’s six weeks before they talk to each other again. I know we’re eager to get back to the table and I’d like to think that they are too. But both sides need to reconvene and figure out the next steps.”

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