New York Mets v New York Yankees

Johan Santana sues the woman accusing him of sexual assault

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We lawyers call it a counterclaim. It’s a really fancy legal concept so I’m totally sure you wouldn’t understand. Anyway:

New York Mets pitcher Johan Santana has filed a counter-claim against the woman who says he sexually assaulted and impregnated her, accusing her of defamation and malicious prosecution.

In documents filed last week, Santana is seeking more than $15,000 in compensatory damages for what he says are false statements designed to ruin his reputation. The documents use terms such as “extortion,” “blackmail” and “sham rape claim.”

Background on all of this can be found here, here, here and here. As noted in those posts, the police dropped their investigation into the alleged sexual assault for “lack of evidence.”  Based on the police file released to the public, it appears the police simply didn’t believe the accusor’s story.

I think the interesting thing in this new story is the claim of extortion, in which Santana alleges that the accusor demanded money from Santana under threat of going public. Her lawyer, however, says that Santana’s lawyers came to her first and that there has been a negotiation about it.

Based on conversations I’ve had with lawyers who represent athletes and celebrities, the accepted practice among people in Santana’s position is to pay off the person and make the problem disappear. Really, even if there’s nothing to the claim — be it sexual assault or anything else — the cheapest, quickest, most p.r.-friendly way to make the threat of a lawsuit go away is to cut the check, get the person’s signature on a confidentiality agreement and go on your merry way.  Sure, this is troubling on some level, but I can see the cold hard logic to the strategy.

But what it also means is that, if you’re an athlete, and your lawyer takes such an approach,  it’s gotta be hard to make an extortion claim.  Because odds are that some amount of discussion of money has been had already, and if you’re talking money in the first place, it’s going to be difficult to distinguish between a negotiation and an extortion attempt in a subsequent litigation. As a result, unless the shakedown came really damn fast (i.e. before your lawyer could call hers), I would think that going after the person for extortion would be tough.

But then again, I guess we can go all game-theory here and say that Santana’s lawyers know that too, so this must be a really clear-cut case.  But then her lawyers know that they know that …

Cubs sign Brett Anderson to a $3.5 million deal

Brett Anderson
AP Photo/J Pat Carter
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Cubs have signed pitcher Brett Anderson to a contract, pending a physical. Anderson, apparently, impressed the Cubs during a bullpen session held in Arizona recently. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, the deal is for $3.5 million, but incentives can bring the total value up to $10 million.

Anderson, 28, has only made a total of 53 starts and 12 relief appearances over the past five seasons due to a litany of injuries. This past season, he made just three starts and one relief appearance, yielding 15 runs on 25 hits and four walks with five strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings. The lefty dealt with back, wrist, and blister issues throughout the year.

When he’s healthy, Anderson is a solid arm to have at the back of a starting rotation or in the bullpen. The defending world champion Cubs aren’t risking much in bringing him on board.

Yordano Ventura’s remaining contract hinges on the results of his toxicology report

DETROIT, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: Yordano Ventura #30 of the Kansas City Royals pitches against the Detroit Tigers during the first inning at Comerica Park on September 24, 2016 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports provides an interesting window into how teams handle a player’s contract after he has died in an accident. It was reported on Sunday that Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. He had three guaranteed years at a combined $19.25 million as well as two $12 million club options with a $1 million buyout each for the 2020-21 seasons.

What happens to that money? Well, that depends on the results of a toxicology report, Rosenthal explains. If it is revealed that Ventura was driving under the influence, payment to his estate can be nullified. The Royals may still choose to pay his estate some money as a gesture of good will, but they would be under no obligation to do so. However, if Ventura’s death was accidental and not caused by his driving under the influence, then his contract remains fully guaranteed and the Royals would have to pay it towards his estate. The Royals would be reimbursed by insurance for an as yet unknown portion of that contract.

The results of the toxicology report won’t be known for another three weeks, according to Royals GM Dayton Moore. Dominican Republic authorities said that there was no alcohol found at the scene.

Ventura’s situation is different than that of Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident this past September. Fernandez was not under contract beyond 2016. He was also legally drunk and cocaine was found in his system after the accident. Still, it is unclear whether or not Fernandez was driving the boat. As a result, his estate will receive an accidental death payment of $1.05 million as well as $450,000 through the players’ standard benefits package, Rosenthal points out.