The Yankees and Mets will always be linked together because of their proximity to one another in New York City, but today, they're sharing a bond for of a much different reason.

The biggest story in the 2022 MLB Offseason is the free agency of superstar slugger, Aaron Judge. After setting the new American League single-season home run record, Judge became a free agent, and all 30 MLB teams are now eligible to bid on his services for 2023 and beyond.

Based on news that broke last night, however, it appears as though two hometown teams may have started their bidding a bit before the metaphorical starter's pistol was fired.

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Report Claims MLB is Investigating New York Yankees, Mets for Collusion

A story broke late Wednesday night in The Athletic that detailed allegations that the New York Yankees and New York Mets had colluded with one another, and that Major League Baseball would be investigating the teams' improper interactions with one another over the pursuit of Aaron Judge.

The investigation centers around this article from SNY, published in early November, which mused about the Mets not pressuring the Yankees into a bidding war for Judge's services during free agency this offseason. It was a harmless story at the time, and likely, one that we discussed on The Drive with Charlie & Dan.

Heck, we may have even shared a laugh or two while talking about it.

Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge / Getty Images
Yankees' slugger Aaron Judge / Getty Images
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Major League Baseball did not agree with the opinion that the story was harmless, however, and instead chose to launch an investigation into comments that were made within it.

The league took issue with the statement that the Mets would not outbid the Yankees for Judge in free agency this year, and asserted that this was an example of improper communication, or collusion, between the two teams. Naturally, this type of interaction flies directly in the face of the MLB rulebook, the MLB Players Association and the league's Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Mets' owner Steve Cohen / Getty Images
Mets' owner Steve Cohen / Getty Images
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Here's the reason why: in theory, every free agent in professional sports has an equal chance to sign with every team in their league. If there are 30 teams, like in the MLB, a player should have a 1/30 chance to sign with each team.

Naturally, some teams will have more resources and more interest for free agent players than others, but in a perfect world, it would be an even playing field. No pun intended, I swear.

If the New York Mets state that they will not be pursuing Aaron Judge, or any other free agent, it upsets the balance stated above, where a player has a 1/30 chance to sign with every team. That imbalance can impact the player's value on the free agent market, and ultimately, impact who they sign with, and for how much money.

Hal Steinbrenner
Chairman and Managing General Partner of Yankee Global Enterprises, Hal Steinbrenner / Getty Images
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It's a fascinating story, and a major, MAJOR mistake by the New York Yankees, Mets, and SNY. A legal precedent has been set in the past in Major League Baseball, where teams have paid players millions of dollars in damages as a result of allegations like these.

The teams are facing allegations of collusion, as well as the possibility that they disclosed private contract negotiation details to the public, something you're also not allowed to do.

This string of mistakes adds yet another wrinkle to a fascinating offseason for Aaron Judge, and a daunting offseason for New York. Now, the Yankees need to hope that this misstep doesn't impact their chances of bringing the Judge back to his chambers in The Bronx.

More to come as the investigation concludes.

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