Logan Morrison Files Grievance

The Logan Morrison saga continues, as it was learned Thursday afternoon that the outfielder filed a grievance on the grounds of discipline without just cause.

Morrison believes he was unjustly demoted to the minor leagues on August 13 and took action to, in his paraphrased words, stand for what’s right. Though news of the filed grievance broke Thursday afternoon, it was actually filed on August 25, two days after he rejoined the major league team.

While the reasons the Marlins directly gave Morrison regarding his mid-August demotion were patently absurd, the demotion itself might not have been, which muddies these waters. Morrison probably doesn’t have a leg to stand on here, though perhaps his intentions go beyond merely — again, his words — protecting the rights of guys who have been in the league for a long time.

First, take a trip back to August 13, to get a frame of reference for the grievance. Morrison was demoted following a game in which he batted third. Earlier that day, he missed a meet-and-greet event with fans. Morrison had heard from team union representative Wes Helms that he didn’t have to attend.

Earlier this season, Morrison ripped Hanley Ramirez in front of the team. The ripping came shortly after Jack McKeon took over as manager and was intended to send Ramirez the message that he wasn’t above the team. Morrison implied that Hanley’s poor season could be directly attributable to his tardiness.

When hitting coach John Mallee was fired in June, he essentially did everything he could to criticize team ownership without naming names. Quite the laundry list of controversy for a somewhat unheralded prospect without a prior knack for controversy, who hasn’t come anywhere near establishing himself in the majors. While teams can put up with controversy if on-field results can’t be ignored, Morrison is a poor defender at a corner outfield position with a career .355 wOBA — solid but not overwhelming.

Further, it was learned that Morrison didn’t even stay for the entire demotion meeting, exiting the office upon hearing the Marlins’ reasons: primarily, his .249 batting average. Now, the Marlins might not be the most progressive team in history, but they surely knew Morrison’s skill-set extended beyond his simple batting average. However, as Dave Cameron argued at the time, failing to tell Morrison the true reasons likely set this whole tidal wave in motion.

Really, the consensus on the subject tended to boil down to one opinion: the demotion probably made sense given all that transpired during the year, but the team should have been upfront with him. He probably did, as Larry Beinfest put it, need to work on all aspects of being a major leaguer. They just didn’t tell him that.

That opinion made sense given what was known at the time. Now, however, it seems that Morrison would have caused a stir even if the Marlins were upfront about the reasons for his demotion. Had they told him that their organization prides itself on doing things the right way, or the players presenting themselves in the most appropriate fashion, it’s hard to imagine him asking for a cup of tea as they expand their viewpoint as opposed to storming off. He didn’t want to be demoted, felt his on-the-field performance justified his spot on the major league roster, and there was no margin for error.

Then again, the thought of the Marlins organization doing things the right way is laughable. Despite two World Series titles in 1997 and 2003, the Marlins are universally panned as one of the worst organizations in baseball. Morrison isn’t ignorant to that widespread belief, and fell victim to its operating protocol when being demoted. In all likelihood, the grievance was filed as a means of getting out of the organization.

He’s too talented and cheap for the Marlins to try and trade him. But he probably doesn’t want to spend the next five or six seasons playing for an organization that would discipline a player for tweeting disappointment about a hitting coach being fired. Or for one that would get angry at his standing up to a superstar for perceived detrimental conduct.

Unfortunately for him, there aren’t many teams like that in the major leagues. No, most other teams wouldn’t demote him following a controversial tweet, but they would assuredly scold him. And what grounds does a 24-year old with about one full season of major league service have in calling out the face of the franchise? Ironically, the one manager who might put up with that is Ozzie Guillen, who many feel could be traded for Morrison.

It’s easy to side with Morrison given his gregarious nature but he was very clearly wrong in many of the issues that surfaced this season, which shouldn’t be ignored.

If he wants out of an organization unlikely to trade him, filing a grievance is actually an interesting tactic. The process could take up to a year, and could end in front of an arbiter. From a monetary standpoint, Morrison would seek lost wages and interest on those wages for the amount of major league compensation he lost as a result of spending a little over a week in the minors. But the money isn’t his number one priority in filing the grievance. Before bringing an arbiter in, the two sides can work out a settlement.

At this point, it seems both sides would prefer to put the mess behind them. Morrison will ‘drop the charges’, they’ll work out a trade as part of the settlement, or an arbiter will have to decide a potentially historic case. If he wants out, this is an interesting way to do it. It isn’t a very dignified way to do it, but it’s certainly a different type of way to accomplish his goal.

Eric is an accountant and statistical analyst from Philadelphia. He also covers the Phillies at Phillies Nation and can be found here on Twitter.

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11 years ago

I highly doubt that a settlement involving accommodating Morrison’s desire to be traded is at all likely. MLB is going to be applying a lot of pressure on the Marlins to stand their ground and defend the move given that the outcome of this incident could set a precedent. And the last thing that MLB wants to see happen is for pre-FA players to gain any more leverage than they already have.

11 years ago
Reply to  walt526

The problem for the Marlins/MLB is that all the evidence points to the demotion being “discipline without just cause”. He batted 3rd the day before he got sent down, hit under .200 in the minors, and then was back hitting 3rd in the majors 10 days later. That essentially refutes anything they can say about the demotion being performance-related (if it was they would’ve dropped him in the order and/or left him in the minors longer). Add in the surrounding circumstances regarding Wes Helms and the meet and greet the day of the demotion, and it seems like it was purely punitive.

If I were the head of the MLBPA, I would be pushing him to maintain the grievance with this fact pattern.

11 years ago
Reply to  James

I agree that the Marlins are likely to lose. But I think that MLB will ultimately decide that such a decision will cause fewer problems down the line (essentially, it will cause teams to be more circumspect about off-field demotions) than providing the agents of per-FA players any sort of leverage to attempt to force a trade to another organization. In other words, losing in arbitration and having to pay 10 days worth of pay is the least bad option from MLB’s perspective. Providing an avenue outside of the framework of the CBA that increases a per-FA player’s mobility (and weakening the team’ control) poses a more serious threat.