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How to turn a guaranteed contract into a non-guaranteed contract

Aug 30, 2013, 11:00 AM EDT

Man Signing Contract

Jeff Passan has an interesting story over at Yahoo! today. It’s a look at the language teams are increasingly inserting into individual player contracts which outline the circumstances under which a player’s contract can be transformed from a guaranteed deal to a non-guaranteed one.

It doesn’t happen often — Passan notes three players who have had it happen, and in each case a settlement on the final dollars owed was reached — but he reports that teams are increasingly looking for ways to hedge against risk. Or, if you are skeptical of team intentions, look for ways out of bad deals. For now the bulk of the language relates to thinks like engaging in dangerous activities such as skydiving, skiing and martial arts. There are moves, however, particularly by the Cubs, Nats and Yankees, to try to build in language that covers PEDs.

As Passan notes such language is likely trumped by the Joint Drug Agreement and the CBA. But it’s an area that some in the union may worry will be one in which teams attempt to become more proactive.

Fascinating stuff, particularly the exhaustive list of prohibited activities in Cubs contracts. It sort of puts a whole new twist on that Rogers Hornsby quote in which he said he spent his offseason looking out the window and waiting for spring. These days, it seems, that’s all a player could do without risking his contract.

  1. stlouis1baseball - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:17 AM

    “(A)uto racing, motorcycling, piloting, co-piloting, learning to operate, or serving as a crew member of, an aircraft, being a passenger in a single engine airplane or private plane, hot air ballooning, parachuting, skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, horseback riding, horse racing, harness racing, fencing, boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, jujitsu, any other form of martial arts activity, use of an All Terrain Vehicle (‘ATV’), skiing (water or snow), snowmobiling, bobsledding, luging, ice hockey, ice boating, field hockey, squash, spelunking, basketball, football, softball, white water canoeing or rafting, kayaking, jai-alai, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, rodeo, bicycle racing, motor boat racing, polo, rugby, rodeo, handball, volleyball, in-line or other roller skating, surfing, hunting, paddleball, racquetball, archery, wood chopping, mountain climbing, boating, any weightlifting not prescribed by or approved in advance by Club (said approval not to be unreasonably withheld), participation in the ‘Superteams’ or ‘Superstars’ activities (or any like activity) or other made-for-television or made-for-motion picture athletic competitions, or any other sport, activity, or negligent act involving a reasonably foreseeable substantial risk of personal injury or death.”

    Wow. No spelunking, no chopping wood and no more ATV’s.
    Strangely…it appears basketball didn’t make the list. Figure that one out.

    • stlouis1baseball - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      Edit Function: Basketball DID make the list. But seriously…no spelunking? No chopping wood? Forbidden from riding ATV’s?
      Considering a lot of dudes have permanent residences in rural settings…
      I am gonna’ guess chopping wood and riding ATV’s are two things they regularly do.

      • jwbiii - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:23 PM

        Aaron Rowand was severely injured in 2002 when he rolled his ATV.

        Some of this is already in the in Uniform Player’s Contract:

        Other Sports
        5.(b) The Player and the Club recognize and agree that the Player’s
        participation in certain other sports may impair or destroy his ability
        and skill as a baseball player. Accordingly, the Player agrees that he
        will not engage in professional boxing or wrestling; and that, except
        with the written consent of the Club, he will not engage in skiing, auto
        racing, motorcycle racing, sky diving, or in any game or exhibition of
        football, soccer, professional league basketball, ice hockey or other
        sport involving a substantial risk of personal injury.

    • shaggylocks - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:24 AM

      Archery? As an Olympic-style archer myself, I can guarantee you that is the most ridiculous thing to include on this list. Archery is basically the art of standing as still as possible, then gently releasing the two fingers holding the bow string. The you nock another arrow, try to get in the same exact perfectly still position as before, stand as still as possible, and gently release your two fingers. It’s like meditation. Did meditation make the list?

      • zzalapski - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:33 PM

        Those finger blisters can be something fierce.

      • misterscmo - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:39 PM

        Maybe they were referring to the dudes that change out the targets at the archery range.

      • Reflex - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:29 PM

        I’ve seen The Avengers. Don’t give me that bullshit about how archery is done. Hawkeye owns you. And that ain’t how he did it.

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:30 AM

      being a passenger in a … private plane

      Wow, really? And love how paddleball is in there. Wouldn’t want people getting hurt playing with their kids at the beach.

      • stlouis1baseball - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:03 PM

        Yeah…I meant to include paddleball as well. Ridiculous.

    • someguyinva - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:58 AM

      Truck washing is still allowed? Jeff Kent approves.

    • jrbdmb - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:18 PM

      But Driving While Intoxicated / Driving Under the Influence and shooting off a few hundred rounds with your assault rifle are still OK. Got it.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:58 PM


    • geoknows - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:31 PM

      And rodeo is so dangerous it has to be listed twice.

  2. zzalapski - Aug 30, 2013 at 11:48 AM

    I’m surprised they didn’t include “playing with your kids”.

    • dcarroll73 - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:14 PM

      zz, the contract lawyers refer to that exclusion as “Joba Rules”.

      • jrbdmb - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        Bet the Yankees have already added “trampolining” (sp?) to that list.

    • zzalapski - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:23 PM

      In the wake of Francisco Liriano’s comeback season, a lot more pitchers may try to startle their kids on Christmas Day.

  3. NatsLady - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:15 PM

    Very interesting article, Craig. Thanks for posting the link. Interesting to see how restricted players’ lives are. Golf and ping-pong. I know some of them make millions, but it’s a 15-year grind once you are past high school.

  4. bigblue86 - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:34 PM

    Well you can’t ride a bobsled or a luge, but you can hop on a skeleton board and go head first down an icy chute!

  5. bigblue86 - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:47 PM

    Didn’t the Yankees void Aaron Boone’s contract before the 2004 season because he tore up his knee playing basketball? This is also what led to the Yankees trading for ARod if I remember correctly.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:59 PM

      Boone served his purpose in 2003

      • bigharold - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:56 PM

        And earned his place in Yankee history too.

    • jwbiii - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:05 PM

      Sort of. The Yankees threatened to void his contract, Boone threatened to arbitrate, and the Yankees released him and paid him in full instead.

  6. nategearhart - Aug 30, 2013 at 12:54 PM

    That right there is a shortlist of all the stuff I’d love to spend my time doing if I were rich. Hope people consider this before they bust out the “these crybabies make millions!” argument against ballplayer woes; looks like players don’t get to spend a dime doing anything worth doing as long as they have a career. I wonder what the odds are that a player injures himself during the offseason furniture shopping at Crate & Barrel, and if that would subsequently make the Cubs’ list of no-nos.

  7. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:04 PM

    With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, what are the odds of a player being honest about how he sustained his injury? I suppose there are circumstances where a guy couldn’t lie, but if I blew out my knee in a basketball game, you can bet your behind my official story would include jumping jacks.

    • zzalapski - Aug 30, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      “I was, uh, just walking by the basketball court when I saw someone having a heart attack, and I administered CPR, and somehow tore my ACL. Darnedest thing, really.”

  8. brewcitybummer - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:24 PM

    Weird that with all the ridiculous things on that list they didn’t include personal watercraft (jet skis, wave runners). Unless I missed it I think the lawyers forgot something. Not that I think the list is reasonable but if this is what they want to do they missed an obvious one. I myself have done a thing or two on a wave runner in my younger days that I nearly regretted the rest of my life.

  9. foreverchipper10 - Aug 30, 2013 at 3:41 PM

    Maybe this is why Clayton Kershaw loves ping pong.

  10. thebigtim2012 - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:01 PM

    Shagglocks first off Olympic style archery? Just say you target practice saying it like that sounds kinda douchey. And I’m pretty sure what they are discussing is bow hunting where drawing on a 70lb draw could easily tear up a bunch of stuff in your shoulder. Olympic style archery? Who says that

  11. HitsDingers - Aug 30, 2013 at 4:05 PM

    Let’s take it a step more nefarious-er. If a team could get out of a deal because the player failed a drug test, couldn’t a team essentially drug that guy, intentionally, without him knowing? IT’S A TRAP!

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