TAMPA — Gerrit Cole said players need to “wake up” and understand how some teams think about players in the aftermath of former Mariners president and CEO Kevin Mather’s admission Seattle manipulated service time, among other things.
Cole called some of the practices acting in “bad faith” and he had no answers about how to solve the issues that players see with the current collective bargaining agreement, which is set to expire in December.
“If you start to play with the beginning of the bell curve [of a players’ career], so you maximize what it is and you’re only doing it strictly to be more efficient business-wise, that’s just frustrating,” Cole said Tuesday. “I don’t have an answer for how to fix it. I think it’s bad faith.”
And any doubts the players or the Players Association might have had were erased by Mather’s incredible comments in a virtual discussion with the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club earlier this month that became public Monday.
“I think every player needs to wake up and read the news about the guy with the Mariners,’’ said Cole, who is part of the executive subcommittee of the MLBPA. “Those conversations are being had in a lot of clubs, unfortunately. That’s what a lot of clubs are acting on. I don’t know if a rule is gonna be able to fix that. Somebody will find a way around that.”
The result is young players being forced to stay in the minors longer than they should, as Mather said the Mariners would not promote former Mets prospect Jarred Kelenic to the majors to start the season, which would start his clock towards arbitration and free agency.
“It’s happening with a lot of clubs and it’s not productive for anyone,’’ Cole said. “They’re not putting the best players on the field for people to see. This guy is talking about players making him money. The product is the people he’s talking poorly about.”
Cole said of the situation, “It’s tired. I think players are over it. If you haven’t been awakened to that type of behavior, that’s what goes on. I don’t know how to fix it. I just know I don’t like it.”
His issues didn’t stop there. Cole also said he’s been unable to see if the balls being used this season will be any different than in years past after the league said it would try to make them less bouncy.
“I’ve been trying to get my hands on balls here [in camp] and no one can tell me if we’re using the balls from this year or last year,’’ Cole said. “I’m happy there was an admittal there’s been some tinkering. All players have known it the last three or four years, at least. It’s another look behind the curtain at the Wizard of Oz and smoke and mirrors. Let’s be a little more honest about that kind of stuff.”