This morning I explained how hard it is for a team to void a player’s contract and why the Mariners are unlikely to be able to do so in the case of Milton Bradley. I hadn’t seen Larry Stone’s take on it from last night in which he went through three recent case studies: Denny Neagle, Sidney Ponson and K-Rod. It’s instructive to see how those all played out. It’s also instructive to remember just how big a screwup Sidney Ponson was. Mercy.
All of those cases eventually settled, though the details about the terms and impetus for settlement are all a bit vague. The biggest takeway: if fist fights with judges, prostitute solicitation and repeated drunk driving beefs aren’t enough to get your contract voided, not many strictly off-the-field incidents are. At least if they don’t involve dead bodies and stuff.
Really, it seems like Uniform Player Contract provisions 7(b)(1) and 7(b)(3) are directed more at behavior that directly impacts one’s ability to play, not behavior that is merely scandalous, embarrassing or criminal.
Update (6:48 PM EST): Topkin reports the contract will be of the major league variety.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports that the Rays and free agent reliever Shawn Tolleson are close to finalizing a contract.
Tolleson, who turns 29 years old on Thursday, had an ugly 2016 season, finishing with a 7.68 ERA and a 29/10 K/BB ratio in 36 1/3 innings. He was one of the Rangers’ best relievers in the two seasons prior to that, however, which included saving 35 games in 2015.
The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.
Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.
President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.