(670 The Score) Mariners CEO Kevin Mather’s recent resignation after his insensitive and inappropriate diatribe about minority players in his organization and his acknowledgement of service time manipulation caused a stir, but such viewpoints coming from the executive/ownership level weren’t surprising to many players.
Cubs outfielder Ian Happ, his team’s union representative, found the comments to be ugly but was also glad the public discovered what players are sometimes dealing with behind the scenes.
“It's a good thing that fans see the underbelly of the game and some of the issues we have,” Happ said of Mather’s comments. “That is especially true this year and leading into a bargaining cycle. It is unfortunate that is how a number of people think on the other side.”
Happ himself just tested the arbitration system, winning his case against the Cubs to draw a $4.1-million salary in 2021. As it pertains to Mather’s comments about the Mariners purposely keeping top prospects in the minor leagues to delay their service time clock – a tactic many teams use – Happ expanded on the topic, which has become a big debate in recent years.
“I don't think this is an isolated incident,” Happ said. “I think that it is very important that people understand that. I hope both sides can work together to improve that (relationship), because right now the system allows that. It would be good for both sides to put in a system that reflects where we are in the game today. Because we are in a much different place than five or 10 years ago in the game, so the system should reflect that.”
Teams are using the system in place to their advantage, keeping prospects down longer to ensure an extra year of contract control on the back end, which delays the player’s free agency by a year.
"This is something that players have known for a long time -- not with just the service time issue but on how free agency is viewed,” Happ said. “I am glad that fans and other people are able to hear that (Mather's video), so they can kind of process it.”
Happ had one more point to get across about Mather’s commentary.
"As a fan of the game, you don't want your favorite players being viewed that way,” Happ said. “If you’re a Mariners fan and you haven't been to the playoffs in 20 years, you don’t want to think the team is doing something deliberately to not compete. As a player, all we want is to be able to compete with the best of the world.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.