According to a senior executive with Major League Baseball, there was no collusion between the New York Mets and New York Yankees regarding free-agent slugger Aaron Judge.
"We've completed our investigation," the executive said, per Sean Gregory of Time. "And we've notified the MLBPA that there is no basis for any claim of collusion."
Concerns arose when Andy Martino of SNY reported earlier this month the Mets had no plans to engage in a bidding war with their crosstown rivals and would only be involved if the Yankees decided they were not going to pursue Judge in free agency.
"Talking to Mets people about this all through the year, the team in Queens sees Judge as a Yankee, uniquely tailored to be an icon in their uniform, stadium and branding efforts," Martino wrote. "Owners Steve Cohen and Hal Steinbrenner enjoy a mutually respectful relationship, and do not expect to upend that with a high-profile bidding war."
The players association responded to that suggestion by requesting a league investigation into the idea two league owners could be collaborating to drive Judge's price down.
Gregory noted the MLBPA can still file a grievance, which would leave the case in the hands of an independent arbitrator.
Although the Mets may not be involved in the pursuit of Judge, he could ultimately benefit from a bidding war involving the Yankees, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers, among potential other suitors.
Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported Judge was in San Francisco to meet with the Giants, whom Randy Miller of NJ.com reported last month "won't be underbid" when it comes to money available for the superstar who grew up in Northern California cheering for the National League West team.
"The Dodgers and other clubs could become serious pursuers of Judge, as well, turning this into a bidding war that figures to surpass $300 million," Miller wrote.
A price tag that high wouldn't come as a huge surprise considering Judge is coming off one of the best seasons in MLB history. He set the American League record with 62 home runs while showing off his overall impact with a .311/.425/.686 slash line and 131 RBI.
Where he lands is arguably the biggest story of the entire offseason, but, at least according to an MLB executive, there isn't any collusion involved.