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The Mets attempt to make K-Rod's contract non-guaranteed is a dumb P.R. game

Aug 18, 2010, 8:25 AM EDT

The Mets putting K-Rod on the disqualified list yesterday was a tough but defensible move. I think the union will fight it because, in essence, the Mets are punishing K-Rod twice for the same conduct, but it’s at least possible that it will stick.

The Mets declaration that K-Rod’s contract is non-guaranteed going forward, however, is basically without precedent and will cause the MLBPA to scorch the Earth in order to get it overturned. I mean, it’s one thing to discipline K-Rod for being a jackass, but it’s another thing altogether to threaten one of the most significant accomplishments in sports labor history (i.e. baseball’s guaranteed contracts).

If I had to guess, the move to make the deal non-guaranteed was a move designed to placate angry fans and tabloids. The Mets, having determined that they couldn’t void the deal, wanted to do the next toughest thing.  The problem, though, is that they apparently have no right under the CBA to do it and they’ll ultimately be unsuccessful.  And, since the union is fighting anyway, they’ll likely put more gusto into their attack on the decision to put K-Rod on the disqualified list than they may have otherwise done, which may lead to less of a punishment than he might have otherwise received.

The upshot: the Mets gave the union a reason to fight hard when it may have left well enough alone (even the MLBPA isn’t immune to the PR concerns here, and K-Rod is tough to defend right now), and their overreach may very well bite them in the ass.

Of course, this is the Mets, and they have an uncanny knack for taking a situation in which they have the high ground and frittering it away in the end.

  1. Professor Longnose - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    Any chance it’s a calculated bargaining chip? Expecting the union not to fight anything–guaranteed contract or disqualified list–isn’t a percentage move. (I can’t recall any notable instance of something they didn’t fight.) Maybe the Mets figure that if they try to do both, they can eventually drop the non-guaranteed thing if the union agrees to the disqualified list.

  2. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 18, 2010 at 8:51 AM

    Maybe that’s the thinking, but a threat isn’t credible if there’s virtually no chance of the person making it being able to carry it out. What this does, practically speaking, is to allow the union to make the grievance about a team trying to get out from under a deal as opposed to a team trying to penalize a player for bad acts.

  3. CYGNUS X-1 - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:07 AM

    why do they put moral clauses in contracts if the can’t enforce them?he did not break his finger in a game why should they have to pay him for being stupid?

  4. David - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:13 AM

    Pretty sure Aaron Boone’s contract was first made non-guarenteed before he was cut after the ARod deal.

  5. Craig Calcaterra - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    Actually, Boone’s contact was non-guaranteed pursuant to specific language in the deal that said it would become non-guaranteed if he hurt himself playing basektball.

  6. BC - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:16 AM

    Maybe they just leave K-Rod on the disqualified list for the rest of the year, and bring him back next year. But then again, if they wanted to do that, why didn’t they just suspend him without pay for the rest of the year in the first place, rather than just the 2 games? But then the union would have gone dfgfdsagurfhafdsihthth anyway.
    I do agree with you, they’re trying to find a way to dump the contract without being on the hook for his salary. Unless they can find a team who’s willing to take on all of his salary, I think they’re stuck.
    I would like to see what his contract has for a morals clause though. No clue what the standard boiler-plate language would be, or if there’s anything special in K-Rod’s contract.

  7. BC - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:18 AM

    If I remember, Boone’s contract had something very specific in it about playing basketball, which is how he got injured. That one was pretty much indisputable.

  8. David - Aug 18, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Its still a precedent for declaring a guarenteed contract non-guarenteed. Its not directly on point, but that particular remedy has been granted in the past. Whether it would be granted in this case absent a violation of a specific clause is certainly a question, but something must trigger the general conduct provisions of the standard player contract and after Chacon just lost maybe the Mets are feeling friskey.

  9. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 18, 2010 at 10:32 AM

    Craig, I disagree whole-hearted with you here, and commend the Mutts for having the balls to do this. They are what they are…the Mutts…but I am with them 100% on this one. Sure, they bungled the 2 day suspension thing…but they can claim they didnt know he was injured this bad…thus they brought him in on Saturday…and when they found out he was injured FROM THE BATTERY HE COMMITTED…they voided his contract. I don’t see how the union fight this without a serious PR hit. I don’t like New York…don’t live in New York…but how can the city respond any other way but “GOOD FOR YOU METS!!!”?

  10. Paper Lions - Aug 18, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    I agree. There were two stages. First, a light suspension without pay for a crime. Second, he injured himself in the commission of a crime, making himself unavailable to play. He should be paid for time recovering from a non-baseball injury. Placing him on the disqualified list isn’t punishing him a second time for the same thing, it is a consequence of how he was injured.
    The non-guaranteed thing is dumb, I agree. But he most certainly is not being punished twice for the same thing.

  11. willmose - Aug 18, 2010 at 11:17 AM

    The message the Mets are sending is that they won’t being signing any big time free agents in the next few years. Attention all free agents considering the Mets, get all your money upfront as signing bonus. Otherwise if you happen to get a parking ticket the Mets will try to void your contract.

  12. Chris Fiorentino - Aug 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM

    Comparing hurting your hand while assaulting your 50+ year old father-in-law to getting a parking ticket is as absurd as it gets.

  13. BleedGreen - Aug 18, 2010 at 11:53 AM

    He was punished for getting arrested before. If I remember, the 3rd clause in the contract was ‘failure to render services’. Well he’s hurt. He’s been put on the dq list because he has failed to be able to pitch as a result of injuries sustained of his own actions outside of working for the Mets. Thats the separate issue.

  14. Jimee Johnson - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:09 PM

    The Mets obviously do not understand “machismo”! (sarcasm intended; raci)

  15. Jimee Johnson - Aug 18, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    The Met’s obviously don’t understand “machismo”! (sarcasm intended; racism not intended)

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