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.

Bryce Harper defeats Kyle Schwarber 19-18 to win the 2018 Home Run Derby

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Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.

Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.

Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.

As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.