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Power struggle brewing at MLBPA as faction of players reportedly push to oust top lawyer

NEW YORK, UNITED STATES - 2023/07/26: Deputy Executive Director at Major League Baseball Players Association Bruce Meyer speaks as striking members of Writers Guild of America picketing in front of CBS Broadcast Center on theme Sport Writers Picket. Executives from NHL Players Association, NFL Players Association, MLB Players Association joined and spoke during picket. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
A group of concerned players is trying to oust MLBPA deputy executive director Bruce Meyer from his position. (Photo by Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images) (Pacific Press via Getty Images)

The MLBPA scored a big win with the collective bargaining agreement they negotiated with MLB in early 2022, but two years later, the lawyer who led that effort is reportedly facing a mutiny from a faction of player-members seeking to replace him with a different lawyer.

According to ESPN's Jeff Passan, a faction of players spoke to executive director Tony Clark during a video call Monday, asking him to replace Bruce Meyer, the MLBPA deputy executive director and lead negotiator for the 2021 CBA, with Harry Marino, the lawyer and former player who successfully led the effort to organize and unionize minor-league players.

It's not clear what exactly caused a number of player representatives (21 according to Passan) and high-powered agents to reportedly back the hiring of Marino, who is 33 and negotiated the first CBA for minor-league players last year before leaving the MLBPA in July. Meyer, 62, is a highly experienced labor lawyer and hard-nosed negotiator who has worked extensively with the NFLPA, NHLPA and NBPA. He helped the MLBPA secure the most favorable contract in at least 15 years, one that included numerous wins for the players and was negotiated during a lengthy and sometimes-acrimonious lockout.

One contributing factor could be the extremely slow offseason that baseball has just endured. Some teams went wild before the 2023 season, spending like there was no tomorrow. But a year later, spending has dropped dramatically, and players are frustrated.

Of course, Meyer didn't cause the slow offseason, but some players reportedly consider him to be "ideologically aligned" with super-agent Scott Boras, who badly misjudged the market this winter and overplayed his hand, leading to shorter deals for talented players such as Cody Bellinger and Blake Snell, who had appeared to be in line for longer contracts. Meyer reportedly "vociferously denied" the accusation that he was aligned with Boras in any way.

Regardless of the reasoning, the players are in charge of their union, and if a majority of them aren't happy with Meyer, that's a legitimate reason for Clark to consider replacing him. According to Passan, Clark didn't agree to replace Meyer during the three-plus-hour call Monday, but if so many players are concerned with the direction of the union under Meyer, this won't be the last time we hear about a power struggle within the MLBPA.