The weirdest contract clauses this winter

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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.

2017 Preview: The American League Central

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League Central

Do the Indians have a weakness? Do the Tigers and Royals have one more playoff push in them or do they have to start contemplating rebuilds? The White Sox and Twins are rebuilding, but do either of them have a chance to be remotely competitive?

As we sit here in March, the answers are “not really,” “possibly,” and “not a chance.” There are no games that count this March, however, so they’re just guesses. But educated ones! Here are the links to our guesses and our education for all of the clubs of the AL Central:

Cleveland Indians
Detroit Tigers
Kansas City Royals
Chicago White Sox
Minnesota Twins

2017 Preview: The National League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League East

The Washington Nationals crave a playoff run that doesn’t end at the division series. The Mets crave a season in which they don’t have a press conference about an injured pitcher. The Marlins are trying to put the nightmare of the end of the 2016 behind them. The Phillies and Braves are hoping to move on from the “lose tons of games” phase of their rebuilds and move on to the “hey, these kids can play!” phase.

There is a ton of star power in the NL East — Harper, Scherzer, Cespedes, Syndergaard, Stanton, Freeman — some great young talent on ever roster and, in Ichiro and Bartolo, the two oldest players in the game. Maybe the division can’t lay claim to the best team in baseball, but there will certainly be some interesting baseball in the division.

Here’s how each team breaks down:

Washington Nationals
New York Mets
Miami Marlins
Philadelphia Phillies
Atlanta Braves