So, can the Mets void K-Rod's contract?

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That’s the question Mets fans who don’t want to see K-Rod’s mondo-expensive contract continue to weigh on the team are asking in light of the revelation that Rodriguez injured himself punching a 62 year-old man.  My gut feeling: seems doubtful.

This stuff is governed by a clause in the Uniform Player Contract every player signs. The clause is entitled “Termination,” and it can be found at paragraph 7(b). It reads as follows:

7.(b) The Club may terminate this contract upon written notice to the
Player (but only after requesting and obtaining waivers of this contract
from all other Major League Clubs) if the Player shall at any time:

(1) fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the
standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep
himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the Club’s training
rules; or

(2) fail, in the opinion of the Club’s management, to exhibit sufficient
skill or competitive ability to qualify or continue as a member
of the Club’s team; or

(3) fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in
any other manner materially breach this contract.

That first one seems to fit, right? I mean, K-Rod punched a guy!  But it’s telling that no one — certainly no one with the Mets — made an effort to go that way following the actual incident. Indeed, they had K-Rod pitch on Saturday night! If the team really thought that Rodriguez had done something worthy of termination, they wouldn’t have waited until they found out he was injured.  They would have done it at the time of the incident.

And that’s setting aside the giant battle the Mets would have with the union should they try to void it (quick: can anyone recall a single instance of a player’s contract being voided due to this kind of misconduct?). Indeed, if I were with the union and the Mets even hinted at trying to void the contract now that the injury has been disclosed — as opposed to when the fight occurred — I would jump up and down screaming about how disingenuous the team was being. About how it was really their intention to get out from under a bad deal as opposed to truly being shocked by his alleged “failure to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship.”

Nope: seems like the only shot the Mets have at getting out from under some of K-Rod’s deal is to have this injury turn out to be worse than anticipated and cost him a ton of 2011, thereby keeping his games finished down and thus preventing his 2012 option from vesting.

Report: Koji Uehara close to signing with the Cubs

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 10:  Koji Uehara #19 of the Boston Red Sox pitches in the eighth inning against the Cleveland Indians during game three of the American League Divison Series at Fenway Park on October 10, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald reports, citing a source as well as Nikkan Sports, that reliever Koji Uehara is close to signing a one-year, $4.5 million deal with the Cubs.

Uehara, 41, finished the 2016 season with a 3.45 ERA and a 63/11 K/BB ratio over 47 innings. He missed some time in the second half with a strained right pectoral muscle. When Uehara returned from the disabled list on September 7, he tossed 11 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts and two walks through the end of the regular season. So there’s at least some evidence, albeit in a very small sample size, that Uehara has stuff left in the tank.

The Cubs recently acquired closer Wade Davis from the Royals. Uehara would join Hector Rondon, Pedro Strop, Carl Edwards, Jr., Justin Grimm, and Mike Montgomery in what is once again a very deep bullpen.

MLB implements another player-unfriendly rule, this time targeting draftees

CHICAGO, IL - OCTOBER 28:  MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks to the media before Game Three of the 2016 World Series between the Chicago Cubs and the Cleveland Indians at Wrigley Field on October 28, 2016 in Chicago, Illinois.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Jon Morosi of MLB Network and FOX Sports reports that the MLB draft has a new program in which the top-50 pitching prospects are asked to undergo a voluntary pre-draft MRI on their throwing arm. At first glance, it seems reasonable because, hey, pitchers are injury-prone and players sometimes hide injuries. It would feel bad if my favorite team drafted a lemon!

The reality is that this is just another player-unfriendly rule that shifts financial risk away from the owners and onto the players. The players, in this case, are often not wealthy and are about to begin life in the minor leagues where they earn less than $8,000 per year. Signing bonuses help alleviate some of the immediate financial discomfort of minor league life.

The pre-draft MRI is “voluntary” with quotes around it. Choosing not to undergo the MRI will only give prospective teams more reason to be skeptical of one’s durability. It’s a lot like those voluntary workouts in football that aren’t so voluntary due to superior and peer pressure. You don’t show up, you’re lazy, entitled, a bad teammate, etc. In this case, a pitching prospect refuses to undergo the MRI, it’s because he’s hiding an injury.

Ian Anderson was the first pitcher taken off the board in the 2016 draft, going to the Braves at No. 3. He got a $4 million signing bonus. Let’s say this new MRI program had already been instituted and Anderson refused, or something came up that caused the Braves to change their minds. Anderson’s draft stock falls, let’s say to 21 where the Blue Jays took T.J. Zeuch with a $2.175 million signing bonus. Falling 18 spots in this case costs Anderson about $2 million, perhaps more because he loses a lot of negotiating leverage. Maybe he falls further, even to the second round.

In a column for FanGraphs nearly two years ago, Nathaniel Grow showed that, as a percentage of total league revenues, player salaries have been declining since the early 2000’s. In 2002, player salaries made up 56 percent of league revenues. In 2014, it was only 38 percent.

In isolation, the MRI program isn’t a big deal. The injured player loses stock, but another player moves up to take his place and earns a bit more money. As part of the bigger picture, however, this is part of an ongoing trend in which owners abdicate financial risk and push it all onto the players. The new collective bargaining agreement, for example, capped international signings at $5-6 million per team per year. That removes any incentive for overseas stars like Shohei Otani from coming over to play Major League Baseball. If he wanted to anyway, he would make much less money than he otherwise would on an open market. The amateur draft itself is almost entirely risk-avoidant for owners and it’s terrible for the players because they, too, would earn much more on an open market. And let’s not forget how owners have fought tooth-and-nail to keep minor league salaries suppressed.

Diamondbacks owner Ken Kendrick once paid $2.8 million for the Honus Wagner T-206 baseball card. Let’s not act like these owners can’t afford to shoulder the risk on young pitchers.

EDIT (4:40 PM EST): As I’ve seen others mention it, it’s worth bringing up the Astros/Brady Aiken issue. The Astros took him first in the 2014 draft, but they took issue with his elbow health. The two sides had agreed to a $6.5 million signing bonus, but the Astros wanted to reduce it to $5 million as a result. Aiken didn’t end up signing with the Astros. He underwent Tommy John surgery and was later selected by the Indians 17th overall in the first round of the 2015 draft. He got a $2,513,280 signing bonus.