Union, league to no longer allow milestone bonuses in player contracts

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Jayson Stark reports that a fairly significant change is afoot in big-time contracts:

Major League Baseball and the players’ association have informed teams and agents that they no longer will approve personal-service deals and special “milestone” bonus clauses similar to those contained in Albert Pujols’ contract with the Los Angeles Angels, officials of both agencies told ESPN.com.

Existing deals like Pujols’ and Alex Rodriguez’s are OK, but no new ones can be signed.

The milestone bonuses, the league and union believe, go against language in the CBA that prohibit incentives for statistical achievements.  As it is now you can be paid more based on plate appearances and games, for example, but not hits and wins.  As for the personal services contracts, the league and union worry that such deals could be used to circumvent luxury tax calculations.

Given the league and union’s agreement on these sorts of general principles, it makes sense to not allow such clauses. Because really, once you open the door to loopholes, you’re going to undermine your goals in this regard.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.