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New York Yankees and Mets accused of colluding to damage Aaron Judge free agent market

Jason Burgos
new york yankees, new york mets
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The MLB Players Association believes there is enough evidence that the New York Yankees and New York Mets are working together to hold down Aaron Judge’s free agent market that an investigation has been opened into the two organizations.

Yankees superstar, and likely 2022 American League MVP, Aaron Judge is the biggest name on this winter’s MLB free agent market. The outfielder had a career year as he threatened to win the vaunted triple crown and broke the franchise and AL record for home runs in a single season.

Unsurprisingly, the 30-year-old is expected to be one of the most sought-after players in MLB free agency and will be fielding offers from many teams. However, it seems that the Mets will not be one of those teams in the chase despite having the money and a need for another power bat in their lineup.

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It looks like a recent report about the team passing on a pursuit for Judge has drawn the attention of the MLBPA and has the organization under the belief that the Mets and Yankees could be in cahoots to weaken the market for the superstar center fielder.

New York Yankees and Mets owners may have to provide phone and text records for investigation

new york yankees, new york mets
Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

On Wednesday, The Athletic reported that MLB has opened an investigation ordered by the MLBPA into the possibility that the two New York baseball franchises have come to an agreement where the Mets won’t make a push for Judge in free agency. Avoiding a massive bidding war between the two wealthy franchises.

The Players Association’s concerns started when the website for the Mets’ television network, SNY, posted a story earlier this month explaining the organization’s indifference to signing Aaron Judge. “The team sees Judge as a Yankee, uniquely tailored to be an icon in their uniform. … Owners Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner enjoy a mutually respectful relationship, and do not expect to upend that with a high-profile bidding war.”

The current collective bargaining agreement strictly prohibits that “Players shall not act in concert with other Players and Clubs shall not act in concert with other Clubs.” The PA has the right to file a grievance and The Athletic adds that the investigation could require the owners of the two teams to provide “records of any phone, text and email conversations that took place between them during the period in question.”

The New York Mets not being involved in the race for Aaron Judge does take a major money player out of the chase and will make it far easier for the New York Yankees to re-sign their homegrown superstar.

Following The Athletic’s report, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred released a statement on the story:

“I’m absolutely confident that the clubs behaved in a way that was consistent with the agreement. This was based on a newspaper report. We will put ourselves in a position to demonstrate credibility to MLBPA that this is not an issue. I’m sure that’s going to be the outcome. But obviously, we understand the emotion that surrounds the word [collusion] and we’ll proceed accordingly.”

– Rob Manfred on collusion reports