The Pirates' disputed contract agreement with Pedro Alvarez will be the primary focus -- and not that of any other player -- of the Major League Baseball Players Association's grievance with commissioner Bud Selig's office, a source disclosed today.
The union will contend, based on phone records, that Alvarez did not agree to his $6 million signing bonus until after midnight. (The Pirates' position is that he spoke the words "I accept" into the phone roughly two minutes before midnight.)
The union will contend further that the Pirates' case was the only one in question. The Pirates have cited the Kansas City Royals' talks with first baseman Eric Hosmer as having gone past midnight, but the Royals' position is that an agreement was reached before midnight and all that was missing was approval.
The union will contend that the Royals' approval was delayed - as well as that of possibly one other team - just so the Pirates could have extra time with Alvarez. Frank Coonelly, the Pirates' president, used to serve as MLB's general labor counsel, and the man calling the shots on the MLB end in this instance was MLB labor counsel Rob Manfred. They worked together for nearly a decade.
The phone records that will be entered, the source said, will show a call coming to the office of Alvarez's agent, Scott Boras, at 12:02 a.m. That call, the union will maintain, was the one that resulted in Alvarez's acceptance.
The Pirates' position has been that a deal was done before midnight and that the commissioner's office has the discretion to grant extensions. The Pirates have conceded that finalization of the agreement with the commissioner's office came after midnight.