How to turn a guaranteed contract into a non-guaranteed contract

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Jeff Passan has an interesting story over at Yahoo! today. It’s a look at the language teams are increasingly inserting into individual player contracts which outline the circumstances under which a player’s contract can be transformed from a guaranteed deal to a non-guaranteed one.

It doesn’t happen often — Passan notes three players who have had it happen, and in each case a settlement on the final dollars owed was reached — but he reports that teams are increasingly looking for ways to hedge against risk. Or, if you are skeptical of team intentions, look for ways out of bad deals. For now the bulk of the language relates to thinks like engaging in dangerous activities such as skydiving, skiing and martial arts. There are moves, however, particularly by the Cubs, Nats and Yankees, to try to build in language that covers PEDs.

As Passan notes such language is likely trumped by the Joint Drug Agreement and the CBA. But it’s an area that some in the union may worry will be one in which teams attempt to become more proactive.

Fascinating stuff, particularly the exhaustive list of prohibited activities in Cubs contracts. It sort of puts a whole new twist on that Rogers Hornsby quote in which he said he spent his offseason looking out the window and waiting for spring. These days, it seems, that’s all a player could do without risking his contract.

Phillies owner John Middleton is in Las Vegas with Bryce Harper

Bryce Harper
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Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports that Phillies owner John Middleton flew to Las Vegas for a meeting with Bryce Harper on Friday. Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, it’s “more of a meet-and-greet than a sign-a-deal” affair, but as the club is still at the forefront of trade rumors involving the All-Star slugger, there remains a possibility (however slight) that something could be completed in the days to come.

Even now, the Phillies aren’t alone in the race to sign Harper, but recent rumors have helped whittle down the competition from five or more teams (Phillies, Nationals, White Sox, Giants, and Padres) to three strong contenders. The Giants are said to be interested in a lucrative short-term deal with the outfielder, while the Padres remain in the conversation despite inking Manny Machado to a mammoth 10-year, $300 million contract this week. It’s not yet clear just how far either team would go to outbid Philadelphia as talks with Harper intensify.

As for the Nationals and White Sox, the former officially bowed out earlier today, and MLB Network’s Jon Heyman adds that the latter won’t make a strong play for Harper as they feel the asking price and competing offers are “getting too high” for the 26-year-old’s services. If a mystery team is still in the mix, there’s been no word on their standing with Harper in the last month or so.