“It’s like me saying, ‘I’m not the president of the Yankees. I’m an astronaut,’ ” Levine said. “I’m not an astronaut, and Dellin Betances is not a closer.”
Levine was sharply criticized for the comments by Betances’s agent and others in the industry, and on Sunday, Clark added his voice.
While Clark said the players’ union respects the decision and the arbitration system, he lamented what he called the “file-and-trial” mentality of some clubs, who, he said, have no intention of settling their cases ahead of a hearing, as the system was designed to encourage.
“That was never the intent of the arbitration system,” Clark said, calling the tactic a “philosophical shift.”
In a 90-minute session with baseball media, Clark also said the players were not ready to consider any of the various rule changes being floated and proposed by management, including a pitch-clock to speed up pitchers and a proposal being implemented in the low minor leagues where each extra inning would begin with a runner on second base.
“No, no, no,” Clark said when asked whether the players would support the extra-innings rule change in the majors.
The one exception, he said, is a proposal to eliminate the four-pitch intentional walk and replace it with a rule allowing the pitcher to simply signal to the umpire that he would like to put the batter on first base automatically. It is possible that rule change could be implemented as soon as this season.
Asked about some agents complaining privately that teams have been colluding against free agents this winter, Clark did not outright dismiss those claims and acknowledged he has had those discussions with some agents.
“Having concerns is one thing,” Clark said. “Taking whatever can be deciphered as fact and making a determination from there can be another.”
Clark also said MLB and the players’ association are monitoring the arrivals of international players to spring training camps with added interest this spring, in light of President Trump’s stricter immigration proposals, but had yet to notice any uptick in visa issues.
“There are a lot of concerns,” Clark said. “There have always been a lot of concerns. We have challenges every offseason with guys who are looking to obtain a visa to come back and play after being home. Admittedly, the climate is even more different now than it has been in the past. We don’t know to the extent that it’s going to affect our guys.”