Jayson Stark has created a minor empire focusing on the small stuff. I don’t mean that negatively. His general reporting is fine work, but his signature is picking out the weird and obscure stats and other assorted baseball minutiae. Sometimes his trivia leads us astray — we really don’t need to know who the six players are who have had led the league in HBP, EQA and ingrown hairs since the color line was broken in order to understand what’s going on in baseball — but it’s almost always a fun ride anyway.
Take today’s column: the Most Creative Contract Clauses of the Offseason. The weirdest of them all is that Chien-Ming Wang gets a bonus for winning a Silver Slugger Award. This being the same guy who had his career derailed after a mishap running the bases. I’m guessing there is some confront-your-nemesis mojo working there, though, so we’ll give it a pass.
Other fun contract clauses belong to Jayson Werth, Derek Jeter and about a half a dozen guys on the Pirates who have the contract clauses that are most likely to never be exercised. You gotta click through and read the column for the details.
If I were a ballplayer I don’t think I’d insist on weird contract clauses per se. I think I’d focus on riders. You know, the deals in which musicians insist on specific colors of furniture in dressing rooms they’ll use for an hour and the specific brand of bottled water they’ll have waiting for them when they come off stage? Yeah, I’d total have one of those.
My rider would probably be simple — local beer at every ballpark except St. Louis, nice cold cuts and a bowl of M&Ms with all the brown ones removed — but I would insist on it being fulfilled with all legal options available at my disposal.
Aaron Judge may be the talk of the town right now, but let’s not forget some of Major League Baseball’s more established sluggers. Take the Nationals’ Bryce Harper, for instance, who jumped on a full count during the first inning of Saturday’s game and postmarked the ball to the center field concourse in Chase Field.
Harper’s mammoth hit was the first career home run allowed by Diamondbacks’ rookie Anthony Banda. Banda quickly recovered with an inning-ending strikeout to Ryan Zimmerman, but was booted from his big league debut after Harper, Zimmerman and Anthony Rendon combined for a three-run spread in the sixth.
The first-inning homer also served another purpose: it extended Harper’s hitting streak to 15 games, the longest current streak in MLB this season. He’ll need four more games to tie the 19-game streak Royals’ infielder/outfielder Whit Merrifield established back in June.
The Nationals currently lead the Diamondbacks 4-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Rangers’ right-hander Chi Chi Gonzalez is slated for Tommy John surgery, according to a report by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. Gonzalez was placed on the 60-day disabled list back in early April with a partial UCL tear and was working towards a throwing program before getting sidelined with more elbow pain. He’s expected to miss the entirety of the 2018 season while recovering from the surgery.
This is the second straight season that has been derailed for Gonzalez due to injury. The 25-year-old starter pitched just 10 1/3 innings in 2016 after recovering from a torn UCL, and was optioned to Triple-A Round Rock to finish out the year after compiling an 8.71 ERA, 7.8 BB/9 and 6.1 SO/9 in three starts with the club. He showed more promise in Triple-A with a 4.70 ERA, 2.9 BB/9 and 5.9 SO/9 through 24 starts and 138 innings.
It’s a tough blow for the Rangers, who have seen Gonzalez healthy in just one major league season to date. General manager Jon Daniels told reporters that a recent MRI showed signs of weakening in the ligament, which disrupted the team’s plans to have the right-hander stick to a six- to eight-week recovery timetable after getting a platelet-rich plasma injection (via Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram). The surgery is expected to take place next week and will put Gonzalez’s earliest return date sometime in September 2018.