Commissioner Bud Selig is considering whether to fine the New York Yankees for tampering, the result of an investigation triggered by Yankees President Randy Levine’s comment last winter that he would offer Angels outfielder Mike Trout a 10-year contract.
The potential fine was disclosed by two people with knowledge of the matter but not authorized to comment about it. The amount of the possible fine was not disclosed.
The Angels were furious Levine dropped Trout’s name into a December interview about why the Yankees declined to match the 10-year contract the Seattle Mariners offered to 31-year-old second baseman Robinson Cano.
“If it was Mike Trout, I’d offer him a 10-year contract,” Levine told reporters in New York. “But for people over 30, I don’t believe it makes sense.”
The Angels since have signed the 22-year-old Trout to a six-year contract extension. Owner Arte Moreno said Trout declined the Angels’ overtures toward a longer contract.
The extension delayed Trout’s earliest free agency -- and thus his potential availability to the Yankees and other teams -- from 2017 to 2020.
Levine apologized to the Angels for his remarks on the day he made them, telling the New York Daily News he realized they “could be misconstrued.” Although his comments might appear benign in context, club officials generally are forbidden from talking about players under contract to other teams, in part to avoid the perception that a team is trying to influence the market for that player.
In this case, the perception could have been that the Yankees were trying to drive up the cost for the Angels to keep Trout.
In October, Dodgers co-owner Magic Johnson said his free-spending team would not bid for Cano.
“I can’t talk about the other guy, the guy in New York. He’s going to get paid -- not by us, but he’s going to get paid,” Johnson said. “When you’re a superstar, you get paid. We understand that.”
It is believed that the Dodgers were not disciplined -- Johnson was a rookie owner and not the team’s chief executive -- but Johnson was asked to be mindful of the effects his public comments could have.