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
(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.