Weiner: Union has concerns

NEW YORK -- Baseball players may file a collusion grievance charging owners with conspiring against free agents last winter.

"We have concerns about the operation of the post-2009 free agent market," new union head Michael Weiner said Tuesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "We have been investigating that market. Our investigation is far along but not yet complete."

The sides reached a standstill agreement last year giving the union additional time to decide whether to proceed with a grievance against teams alleging misconduct after the 2008 season.

Management denies any violation of the collective bargaining agreement, which states clubs may not act in concert with respect to free agents.

"The free-agent market operated in a manner that was completely consistent with the requirements of the basic agreement," said Rob Manfred, executive vice president of labor relations in the commissioner's officer. "I feel confident that the MLBPA will come to the same conclusion when they complete their investigation."

Agents for players, without going into specifics, have claimed they received multiple similar offers for free-agent clients and have pushed the union to contest the practice.

The union filed collusion grievances following the 1985, 1986 and 1987 seasons and, after arbitrators ruled in the union's favor, management agreed to a $280 million settlement. A triple-damages provision was inserted into the sport's labor contract in 1990.

Weiner took over as union head from Donald Fehr in December.

"We will determine in the coming weeks what our response to the market will be, whether that response will be a legal one or whether our response will be at the bargaining table," Weiner said. "We do have concerns and in one fashion or another we will respond."