You can take away Josh Beckett’s beer and chicken. But don’t you touch his 7,000 acre hunting ranch. Or the ocelots that may or may not live there:
How did a pro baseball pitcher (Josh Beckett of the L.A. Dodgers), ocelots and a natural gas pipeline builder make it into the same news headline? They’re all part of a lawsuit filed by Beckett after the company used eminent domain to clear land on his 7,000-acre hunting ranch in south Texas.
Beckett says the gas pipeline takes too much of his land and threatens ocelot habitat that is protected by the Endangered Species Act. The gas pipeline builder says Beckett is really just trying to extract more money for the use of the land and is using the Endangered Species Act as leverage.
Obviously a story like this isn’t going to have all the details in it to know the truth. I will say, though, that based on my past life as a litigator who sometimes dealt with oil and gas pipeline matters, it is really common for landowners to cynically use the Endangered Species Act to hold up projects and/or get more money for oil and gas rights and/or rights of way.
Of course it’s entirely possible that Beckett truly does care about the ocelots. Just look at his tufted ears!
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.
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.