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MLB and MLBPA agree: Clubs can't force players to donate to team charities

Feb 4, 2010, 8:00 AM EDT

You’ll recall there was a bit of a hubub last spring when it was revealed that Manny Ramirez’s contract with the Dodgers required him to donate $1 million to Dodgers’ charitable foundation.  At the time Frank McCourt said that, going forward, all Dodgers contracts would contain similar provisions. It was later revealed that over 100 contracts involving multiple clubs had such provisions already.  The union filed a grievance, but the matter was settled yesterday:

Under the settlement agreement, which resolves the grievance, clubs can
demand such donations from players signing as free agents or signing
long-term contracts that buy out one or more years of free agency,
according to a management official who spoke on condition of anonymity
because the agreement has not been officially announced.

Those
players have the option to sign elsewhere. Players not yet eligible for
free agency cannot be compelled to donate, the management official said.

I’m not a fan of forced giving simply because I’ve encountered a number of charitable foundations in my time that are less about charity and more about polishing the social and philanthropic credentials of foundation’s sponsors. “Nice gala, Mr. Chairman! Helen just loves the champagne fountain! Anyway, when will those poor, poor charitable recipients be ushered on the stage for the photo op and then hustled out the back door, because I really need to talk to you about the Johnson deal . . .” The whole scene has left a bad taste in my mouth. 

That said, this seems like a sensible compromise here inasmuch as any free agent can decide if being required to give to the Team X Foundation is worth signing there or not, and as long as there’s an element of choice, mazel tov.

  1. Lorna - Feb 4, 2010 at 8:33 AM

    Would the teams be able to get the tax break in the Ramirez Provision-type deals or the player?

  2. Jonny5 - Feb 4, 2010 at 8:42 AM

    The player would, but I’m sure the person pushing the contract “details” in regards to any donations will and most likely do get a kickback. It’s all so sad really. I remember that even the United way was busted for operating on a not so even keel. Greed!

  3. Joey B - Feb 4, 2010 at 8:44 AM

    It never made any sense to me. It kind of feels like the LAD are giving Manny an extra $1M so that he can give it to an LAD charity, so that everyone looks magnanimous. It seems to me that the LAD could simply donate the $1M themselves.
    And don’t down on the charities Craig. You need to separate the rich from their money. If someone drops a $1M on our local school, and they get their name in the paper, don’t both sides win? Granted, you don’t want the charity throwing lavish bashes with money earmarked for the needy, but a small party thanking those that have made substantial contributions will encourage future contributions.

  4. Roger Moore - Feb 4, 2010 at 10:39 AM

    Wouldn’t any money paid to a player and immediately donated to a charity still count in that team’s luxury tax calculations? If so, it could turn out to be a very expensive way of donating to the team’s favorite charity.

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