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.

Report: Yankees, Reds finalizing trade for Sonny Gray

Sonny Gray
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Barring physicals and roster reshuffling, the Yankees and Reds are all but ready to finalize a deal involving right-hander Sonny Gray, Fancred’s Jon Heyman reported Saturday. The exact return has not been confirmed, but Heyman hears that the Yankees will receive top infield prospect Shed Long and a draft pick in exchange for Gray, with an as-yet unnamed third player possibly involved as well.

According to several reports earlier in the day, negotiations came down to the wire as the Yankees first had their eye on the Reds’ no. 6 prospect, 22-year-old catcher Tyler Stephenson. The Reds ultimately elected to hang on to Stephenson and send Long to New York, as they currently have a greater need for catching depth and weren’t expected to be able to provide a full-time role for the infielder in 2019. Long, 23, is ranked seventh in the Reds’ system and appears to be nearing his MLB debut after batting .261/.353/.412 with 12 homers and a .765 OPS across 522 PA at Double-A Pensacola last year.

Gray figures to step into a prominent role within the Reds’ rotation, which is likely to be a mix of recently-acquired left-hander Alex Wood and right-handers Tanner Roark, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, and Tyler Mahle, among several others. Despite Gray’s struggle to remain productive on the mound — he’s three years removed from his only All-Star campaign and turned in a disappointing 4.90 ERA and 2.16 SO/BB rate in 2018 — he might yet help stabilize a team that trotted out the fifth-worst rotation in the majors last season. If, on the other hand, the veteran righty finds the hitter-friendly confines of Great American Ball Park a little too unforgiving this year, the Reds can take some comfort in the fact that he’s due to enter free agency in 2020.