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July 3, 2006
The Ledger Domain
Private Jets, Hitting the Scales and other Colorful Contract Requests
In baseball's off-season, the AP wires are flooded with short reports detailing trades or contract renewals for players. Here's an example:
NEW YORK -- The New York Yankees grabbed center fielder Johnny Damon away from the rival Boston Red Sox, reaching a preliminary agreement Tuesday night on a $52 million, four-year contract.
Interesting on one level, but maybe you remember this…
[Kevin] Brown's $105 million, seven-year contract -- the first $100 million deal in baseball history -- calls for his team to pay for 12 private jet trips for the pitcher's family from Macon to his in-season home or to selected games, and for ground transportation. The same service is called for if the team has any postseason road games. In addition, Brown gets eight premium season tickets.
Welcome to a prime example of a Scott Boras contract.
What has continued to change in contract negotiations are perks and award-based bonuses. While many reports break down the particulars of a contract signing in terms of length of the deal, the details on per-season basis, and possible signing bonuses, in a great number of instances there are perks and award conditions that are never reflected in the press.
One place that the information is provided in detail is within two documents called MLB/MLBPA Joint Exhibit One each for the NL and the AL. These are the actual details for all contracts in their various states for all players, provided by MLB and the Players Association to panels during contract arbitration.
While I do not have access to the 2005 Joint Exhibit Ones, I do have the 2004 documents. What will follow are some of the more unusual and interesting contract details up to that point.
Before we get started on the odder aspects of some of the contracts, let's look at some of the awards-based incentives that many clubs provide. To start, we'll look at Tim Hudson's contract while in Oakland as it reads within the Joint Exhibit One:
(4+119) 2001-2005 (3/02) $500,000-2001; $850,000 - 2002; $2,700,000-2003; $5,000,000-2004; $6,750,000-2005; ($7,500,000 if 2nd thru 3rd Cy Young in 2004; $8.000,000 if Cy Young in 2004) - 2005. Plus: $100,000 for WS/MVP; $50,000 for LCS/MVP; $100,000 for MVP ($75,000-2nd; $50,000 - 3rd); $50,000 for All-Star (met); $25,000 for Gold Glove; $100,000 Cy Young ($75,000 for 2nd; $50,000 for 3rd). Plus, in 2002-2005: $200,000 for 2nd-time Cy Young ($150,000-2nd; $75,000-3rd).
SGP. (PAID $50,000-2004)
Note all the award bonuses outlined. This is something that most contracts have--it's pretty much boilerplate type stuff. Pitchers get bonuses for pitching-based awards, position players for fielding and hitting awards. To bring up a familiar name Jason Grimsley has a provision in which he was to get $50,000 if he were the World Series MVP. Odds of this happening? It simply shows that most clubs are willing to place incentives in contracts based on performance awards.
I could bore you with the details on all these contracts, and maybe that's something for another column, but let's tear back the covers and get to what you most likely came to read about: the odder stuff. Who's asking for the Primadona treatment? What are the clubs asking for that seems, well… a bit odd?
C.C. Sabathia - Let's start with something a little odd. C.C., please stand on the scale so we can determine some bonus money. Sabathia's contract has the following:
$15,000 for less than or equal to 18% of body fat ($5,000 for less than or equal to 20% body fat). Plus: $25,000 if in three consecutive weigh-ins: 270 lbs or less and less than or equal to 18% of body fat ($15,000 in 2002 only in first two weigh-ins: 285 lbs or less and less than or equal to 20% body fat). Todd Helton - Helton sees the relationship of the front office of the Rockies as something that is of interest. He has the following:
Player may void contract if 2 of 3 General Partners sell interest in partnership. Frank Thomas - While this has occurred in the past within MLB, I often wonder how many of us could do this with their employer. While still with the White Sox:
Club will loan player $1,000,000 w/out interest on 1/15/03 from 2006 base salary or buyout. Kazuhisa Ishii - Kaz wants to travel in style:
$25,000 per year housing allowance; ground transportation (SUV) during each regular season; 8 round-trip business class tickets per year from Japan to Los Angeles; 6 tickets to each home game he pitches. On the travel arrangements, you see this quite a bit with the Japanese players (Ichiro has something similar). On the vehicle… at least he didn't request a Hummer.
Pedro Martinez - While Pedro was with the Red Sox, he wanted to make it clear that if he held up his end of the bargain, the Red Sox better, as well:
If Player has 90gs/630ip during contract and Club has not yet been in post-season play during the term of contact, Player can demand a trade. (Player paid $50,000 in 1998 to rescind trade clause). Curt Schilling - Curt was worried about property issues when he left the Diamondbacks and headed to the Red Sox:
If Player is unable to sell Arizona home, Club will purchase home for appraised value. If traded and player is unable to sell Boston home, Club will purchase home for appraised value.
Randy Johnson - Seems that Johnson is thinking about entertaining in his retirement years in Phoenix:
2 courtside tickets to Phoenix Suns for 2002/2003-2010/2011 seasons; 6 premium tickets to Diamondbacks games for first season of retirement through 2010 season.
Alex Rodriguez - A-Rod has, of course, the granddaddy of all contracts. It's not that there is a lot of odd perks within the deal, but there are certainly some incredible provisions that protect him:
Player may void contract after 2007. Player may void contract after 2008 or 2009 unless Club increases base in 2009-2010 by the greater of $5,000,000 or $1,000,000 above the then largest salary of any position player. Club will not offer Salary Arbitration.
Kevin Brown - Yes, I touched on Brown's perks at the beginning of the article, but in total, it really shows just how much pampering one can demand to warrant a second look:
8 premium season tickets; 12 private jet round trip, and ground transportation to his home or selected games in season and private jet round trips with ground transportation to post-season away games. Suite on the road.
As I mentioned at the beginning of this column, these types of perks will continue to make their way into contracts. As an example, when Carlos Beltran came to the Mets via the Astros, he had a provision in his contract for ocular enhancer, a device that throws tennis balls with numbers on them to exercise vision, which would, it seems, increase Carlos' ability to see the rotation on the ball.
Either that, or make reading all the zeros on that contract a lot easier.