Fehr: Players note hard bargaining
Union leader warns contract renewals could spur hard feelings
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Donald Fehr was in Phillies camp on Thursday as he continues his annual Spring Training tour to meet with Major League clubs.Among the typical topics -- the Mitchell Report and administrative items -- the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association said he expects players like Cole Hamels not to forget dissatisfaction over contract renewals. "The thing that's always been a mystery to me is I believe there are some clubs that don't think players remember [contract renewals and arbitration hearings] and think it doesn't have an adverse impact on their subsequent negotiations," Fehr said. "In my experience, players always remember that." Though not speaking directly about Hamels, Milwaukee's Prince Fielder or Baltimore's Nick Markakis -- three players not yet eligible for arbitration who were openly upset about the renewal process -- Fehr thought those feelings could have an impact when those players reach arbitration eligibility and eventually free agency. Hamels said Sunday that he wouldn't forget what he thought was a "low blow" at having his contract renewed for $500,000, more than the renewal amounts for comparable players Chien-Mien Wang of the Yankees and Scott Kazmir of the Rays, but less than the $750,000 for which he was hoping. Fielder and Markakis made similar statements. Boston's Jonathan Papelton made such an overture before agreeing to a one-year, $775,000 contract. Hamels can't be a free agent until after the 2012 season. He'll likely be eligible for salary arbitration as a "Super Two" player for the first of what could be four years of hearings after 2008. Hamels will see a substantial pay increase next season, much like Ryan Howard, who was renewed in 2007 for $900,000 then won $10 million in arbitration on Feb. 21. "It's like what happened with Howard," Hamels said. "Maybe I'll get redemption next year or the next year, but inevitably I'll find out on the free-agent market. It's a tough game." That said, Hamels makes no secret that he'd like to remain teammates with Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins, and would be willing to discuss a multiyear contract as soon as possible. "I'm all for it, because it keeps me here," Hamels said. "These are the guys I love playing with. I want to be here." Despite more discontent among young stars less willing to wait their turn, Fehr said changes aren't imminent. The current collective bargaining agreement runs through the 2011 season. Though, the union chief predictably added, "From our standpoint, we would like for players to have more leverage sooner."
Ken Mandel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.