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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — There is no question the trades of Gerrit Cole and Andrew McCutchen have been gut kicks to Pittsburgh Pirates’ fans this off-season.

Beth McFadden, a fan from McCandless, said, “They let McCutchen go. I don’t think that was a good move.”

Cole and McCutchen’s departures take the Pirates’ payroll down by about $20 million and that has gotten the attention of the MLBPA, or the Major League Baseball Players Association. The issue is how the team is spending it’s revenue sharing money.

“The Pirates are believed to have gotten about $50 million in 2017,” Tribune Review Pirates beat writer Rob Biertempfel said. “The money has to be used to improve on-field performance. That does not mean just players salaries. You can also kind of use it to hire scouts, to hire staff, to maybe improve your technology systems, to use it for signing bonuses for draft picks and national players that kind of thing.”

Every year, every team has to submit an accounting of how it’s revenue sharing money was spent.

The Pirates aren’t alone in catching the attention of the MLBPA. The Miami Marlins trade of Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees was a big dollar deal seen as a salary dump by the new owners.

In a statement on Friday, the MLBPA spokesman Greg Bouris said:

“We have raised our concerns regarding both Miami and Pittsburgh with the Commissioner, as is the protocol under the collective bargaining agreement and its Revenue Sharing provisions. We are waiting to have further dialogue and that will dictate our next steps.”

Biertempfel says the union could file a grievance, and if upheld, would end up in the hands of the baseball commissioner.

“He could force the Pirates to spend more money on payroll. That happened with the Marlins a few years ago. He could penalize the Pirates in other ways. There are a lot of different options from there,” he said.

Pirates President Frank Coonelly issued this statement on Friday:

“The Pirates always have and will continue to use revenue sharing receipts to build a winner on the field in Pittsburgh. That is our sole focus and otherwise decline to become involved in a national debate.”

In a subsequent statement issued later Friday evening, Coonelly goes on to point out the revenue sharing dollars that the Pirates have been receiving have been steadily decreasing over the last few years, despite the fact that their payroll numbers have been going up. And they say revenue sharing only makes up a portion of the salaries that they pay to the players.

It also goes on to say that they are providing everything that the commissioner needs. As is required under the union and MLB agreements, they provide a detailed listing of how those revenue sharing dollars are spent.

It concludes by saying, “The commissioner is well-equipped to address whatever concerns the union now purportedly has over the Pirates efforts to win.”

In response, the MLB has issued this statement:

“We do not have concerns about the Pirates’ and Marlins’ compliance with the Basic Agreement provisions regarding the use of revenue sharing proceeds. The Pirates have steadily increased their payroll over the years while at the same time decreasing their revenue sharing.”

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