Source: Mets won't try to void K-Rod's deal, will attempt to avoid payment for 2010

1 Comment

I just heard that the Mets have decided that they (a) will not attempt to void Francisco Rodriguez’s deal as a result of his little fracas with his girlfriend’s father, but they will (b) attempt to avoid paying him the balance of his 2010 salary as a result of him suffering a non-baseball-related injury. The mechanism for doing this is to place K-Rod on the disqualified list, which they have done as of this evening.

UPDATE: My source tells me the Mets may also try to render the deal non-guaranteed as well. If successful, this step, while short of voiding the contract, would allow the Mets to simply cut K-Rod if he doesn’t make the team next year.  However (a) if he did make the team out of camp the deal would become guaranteed once again; and (b) if they cut him despite him being healthy and able, would likely lead to a whole other grievance by the union.

The union may even try to fight K-Rod’s move to the disqualified list, however. Why? Because according to my source, the Mets considered the discipline of all of this to be sorted as of Thursday with the two-game suspension. The injury changed things, however.  What this means philosophically, though, is that the team is, in effect, trying to punish the injury with a substantially larger sanction (50+ games worth of pay) than the arguably criminal transgression (2 games).  On the one hand this may be semantics. It may matter a lot to an arbitrator, however.

I discussed the ethics of all of this this morning and found it, well, weird. The Mets may have been better off putting him on the restricted list and leveling a longer overall suspension upon reflection once all of the details were in. They didn’t, though, they were content to let his punishment be two games only, and now they could be stuck with that if K-Rod fights this thing.

From a legal perspective, given how difficult it is to discipline a player in the first place, let alone discipline a player when an injury is involved, the Mets’ plant to dock him of his 2010 pay may be a tall order.  If you cast all of that aside, however, it seems like a rather equitable result given that (a) K-Rod did screw the Mets out of the remainder of this season’s services; but (b) will likely be ready to go in 2011.  Voiding the deal beyond this year seemed like an overreach for the Mets.

As for how it will go on the ground, well, we shall see.

Cubs owner Tom Ricketts continues to cry poor

Tom Ricketts
Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images
10 Comments

MLB owners and the MLB Players Association continue to hash out details, some in public, about a 2020 baseball season. The owners have been suggesting a shorter season, claiming that they lose money on every game played without fans in attendance. The union wants a longer season, since players are — as per the March agreement — being paid a prorated salary. Players thus make more money over the 114 games the MLBPA suggested than the 50 or so the owners want.

Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts has been among the more vocal owners in recent weeks, claiming that the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing shutdown of MLB has greatly hurt MLB owners’ business. Speaking to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, Ricketts claimed, “The scale of losses across the league is biblical.”

Ricketts said, “Here’s something I hope baseball fans understand. Most baseball owners don’t take money out of their team. They raise all the revenue they can from tickets and media rights, and they take out their expenses, and they give all the money left to their GM to spend.” Ricketts continued, “The league itself does not make a lot of cash. I think there is a perception that we hoard cash and we take money out and it’s all sitting in a pile we’ve collected over the years. Well, it isn’t. Because no one anticipated a pandemic. No one expects to have to draw down on the reserves from the past. Every team has to figure out a way to plug the hole.”

Pertaining to Ricketts’ claim that “the league itself does not make a lot of cash,” Forbes reported in December that, for the 17th consecutive season, MLB set a new revenue record, this time at $10.7 billion. In accounting, revenues are calculated before factoring in expenses, but unless the league has $10 billion in expenses, I cannot think of a way in which Ricketts’ statement can be true.

MLB owners notably don’t open their accounting books to the public. Because the owners were crying poor during negotiations, the MLBPA asked them to provide proof of financial distress. The owners haven’t provided those documents. Thus, unless Ricketts opens his books, his claim can be proven neither true nor false, and should be taken with the largest of salt grains. If owners really are hurting as badly as they say they are, they should be more than willing to prove it. That they don’t readily provide that proof suggests they are being misleading.

It’s worth noting that the Ricketts family has a history of not being forthcoming about their money. Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts got into hot water last year after it was found he had used inaccurate information when paying property taxes. In 2007, he bought two properties and demolished both, building a new, state-of-the-art house. For years, Ricketts used information pertaining to the older, demolished property rather than the current property, which drastically lowered his property taxes. Based on the adjustment, Ricketts’ property taxes increased from $828,000 to $1.96 million for 2019, according to The Chicago Tribune. Ricketts also had to pay back taxes for the previous three years.

At any rate, the owners want to pass off the financial risk of doing business onto their labor force. As we have noted here countless times, there is inherent risk in doing business. Owning a Major League Baseball team has, for decades, been nearly risk-free, which has benefited both the owners and, to a lesser extent, its workforce. The pandemic has thrown a wrench into everybody’s plans, but the financial losses these last three months are part of the risk. Furthermore, when teams have done much better business than expected, the owners haven’t benevolently spread that wealth out to their players, so why should the players forfeit even more of their pay than they already are when times are tough?