The Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance against the Miami Marlins, Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates and Tampa Bay Rays, accusing the teams of failing to appropriately spend revenue-sharing money.
Union spokesman Chris Dahl, speaking Tuesday at the union's training camp for free agents, said the grievance was filed Friday. Union head Tony Clark declined to comment.
"We have received the complaint and believe it has no merit,'' Major League Baseball said in a statement.
If the case is not settled, it would proceed to a hearing before Mark Irvings, baseball's independent arbitrator. The grievance was first reported by the Tampa Bay Times.
Pirates President Frank Coonelly called the grievance "patently baseless'' and said the team spent revenue-sharing money consistent with the rules in baseball's labor contract.
"Our revenue-sharing receipts have decreased for seven consecutive seasons while our major league payroll has more than doubled over this same period,'' Coonelly said in a statement. "Our revenue-sharing receipts are now just a fraction of what we spend on major league payroll. We also have made significant investments in scouting, signing amateur players, our player development system and our baseball facilities.''
Baseball's collective bargaining agreement states "each club shall use its revenue-sharing receipts ... in an effort to improve its performance on the field'' and prohibits use of that money to service debt related to franchise acquisition and service to debt not related to improving on-field performance.
The A's, Marlins and Rays did not immediately comment.
The Rays entered 2017 with a payroll of $69.5 million, which ended up at over $80 million when you factor in midseason trades. The opening day payroll for this year is projected to be at around $77 million if no other roster moves are made.
The Marlins raised their 40-man payroll from $38 million in 2009 to $47 million in 2010 to $62 million in 2011 to $90 million in 2012, the year Marlins Park opened. Miami cut back to $42 million in 2013.