The Yankees are going to try to get out of paying A-Rod his contract incentives


Alex Rodriguez is owed $64 million from the New York Yankees in guaranteed salary over the next three seasons. The parties also agreed to so-called “marketing bonuses” if he hits certain home run benchmarks. Specifically, he is to get $6 million if he ties Willie Mays (660), $6 million more for tying Babe Ruth (714), $6 million more for tying Hank Aaron (755), and another $6 million if he matches Home Run King Barry Bonds’ total of 762.

At the moment, the only one that seems likely for A-Rod to reach is Mays’ 660, as he is currently sitting on 654 career home runs. Even a part-time, old and deteriorated A-Rod can guess right on six mistake pitches over the next three years, right?

The Yankees, however, aren’t interested in paying up if he does. From the Daily News:

The Yankees, however, now view the marketing bonuses as worthless and invalid, according to sources, the result of Rodriguez’s suspension for violating the game’s collectively bargained drug policy and his scorched-earth attack on baseball and the Yankees. The club plans to do battle with its onetime superstar over paying the bonuses, and is prepared to fight Rodriguez if he files a grievance with the Players’ Association.

As the Daily News notes, the “marketing bonuses,” are part of a separate deal, not his player contract, which suggests that the usual sorts of considerations tied up in player contracts and the collective bargaining agreement don’t apply (i.e. the silliness invoked whenever someone talks of “voiding A-Rod’s deal” is not necessarily applicable). We’d have to see that separate deal to know everything it entails. Of obvious significance would be whether A-Rod was obligated to do anything other than hit dingers under that deal. If there were, say, some sort of promise on his part that he “remain marketable,” however that might be defined. Or not get himself involved in things which harmed his reputation compared to where it sat in the fall of 2007 when he signed the deal.

It’s probably worth noting that tying Barry Bonds was considered by the Yankees at the time to be a “marketable” event. When they agreed to that deal, the book “Game of Shadows” had been on the market for over a year and a half, and it detailed Barry Bonds’ association with BALCO and copious intake of performance enhancing drugs during his career. Bonds was indicted for perjury and obstruction of justice a month before the Yankees and A-Rod finalized that deal.

Perhaps Bonds was included in the deal as some sort of incentive for A-Rod to “retake the home run record in the name of clean-living baseball players.” There was certainly some news commentary at the time about that. Or, perhaps, the Yankees just considered the home run record to be the home run record — a great achievement — and paid no mind to what the public thought regarding the manner in which the current record holder achieved it. That, if they truly thought home runs achieved by PED use was shameful, that the big deal would be passing Aaron, not Bonds.

Regardless of how that all shakes out, if the contract does not contain good behavior and reputation obligations on the part of Rodriguez, the Yankees are going to have a hard damn time convincing a judge that the deal should not be enforced because the law doesn’t allow people to simply read-in new terms to contracts after the fact. If it does contain such terms, you can bet your life that A-Rod — his current efforts at conciliation notwithstanding — will likely fight any notion that his PED use was not a risk the Yankees assumed. And he’ll fight it tooth and nail.

Orioles sign OF Aaron Hicks, put Cedric Mullins on 10-day IL with groin strain

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

BALTIMORE — The Baltimore Orioles signed outfielder Aaron Hicks less than 24 hours after Cedric Mullins went down with a strained right groin.

Mullins went on the 10-day injured list, but the Orioles are hoping Hicks can help defensively in the spacious outfield at Camden Yards. Hicks was released last week by the New York Yankees with more than 2 1/2 seasons left on his contract.

“We had noticed that he was a free agent even before the injury,” Orioles general manager Mike Elias said. “When the injury occurred and it became pretty clear this was going to be an IL, it seemed like a good fit even more so at that time.”

The Orioles are responsible for paying Hicks just $483,871, a prorated share of the $720,000 minimum salary. The Yankees owe him the rest of his $10.5 million salary this year, plus $9.5 million in each of the next two seasons and a $1 million buyout of a 2026 team option.

The 33-year-old Hicks hit just .188 in 28 games for the Yankees this year.

“We have stuff that we look at from a scouting and evaluation perspective,” Elias said. “It’s very different from just looking at the back of a baseball card, and we hope that we get a bounceback from anyone we bring here.”

Hicks batted .216 last season.

“Hopefully that’s a good thing for him,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Baltimore deal. “A lot of time here and a lot of good things happened for him here. I know the last couple of years have been a struggle. But hopefully it’s a good opportunity for him and certainly wish him well. Not too well being in our division and a team we’re chasing, but hopefully it’s a really good fit for him.”

Mullins left a loss to Cleveland after he pulled up while running out an infield grounder. Outfielder Colton Cowser – the fifth pick in the draft two years ago – is hitting .331 at Triple-A Norfolk, but he went on the IL in the past couple weeks.

“Certainly he was building a case towards promotion consideration prior to his injury and prior to Cedric’s injury,” Elias said. “We’ll just see where we’re at.”

Hicks was active for the game but not in the starting lineup. Austin Hays, normally Baltimore’s left field, was in Mullins’ usual spot in center.

When the wall in left at Camden Yards was pushed significantly back before last season, it made left field a bigger challenge defensively.

“In this park … you really need two center fielders,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “Aaron’s got a lot of center-field experience. Played left field here before also. Brings the defensive aspect and then the switch-hitting.”