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

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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.

Bonds, Clemens left out of Hall again; McGriff elected

John Hefti-USA TODAY Sports
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SAN DIEGO – Moments after Fred McGriff was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, almost two decades after his final game, he got the question.

Asked if Barry Bonds belonged in Cooperstown, a smiling McGriff responded: “Honestly, right now, I’m going to just enjoy this evening.”

A Hall of Fame committee delivered its answer Sunday, passing over Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling while handing McGriff the biggest honor of his impressive big league career.

The lanky first baseman, nicknamed the “Crime Dog,” hit .284 with 493 homers and 1,550 RBIs over 19 seasons with six major league teams. The five-time All-Star helped Atlanta win the 1995 World Series.

McGriff got 169 votes (39.8%) in his final year on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot in 2019. Now, he will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 23, along with anyone chosen in the writers’ vote, announced Jan. 24.

“It’s all good. It’s been well worth the wait,” said McGriff, who played his last big league game in 2004.

It was the first time that Bonds, Clemens and Schilling had faced a Hall committee since their 10th and final appearances on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America ballot. Bonds and Clemens have been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, and support for Schilling dropped after he made hateful remarks toward Muslims, transgender people, reporters and others.

While the 59-year-old McGriff received unanimous support from the 16 members of the contemporary baseball era committee – comprised of Hall members, executives and writers – Schilling got seven votes, and Bonds and Clemens each received fewer than four.

The makeup of the committee likely will change over the years, but the vote was another indication that Bonds and Clemens might never make it to the Hall.

This year’s contemporary era panel included Greg Maddux, who played with McGriff on the Braves, along with Paul Beeston, who was an executive with Toronto when McGriff made his big league debut with the Blue Jays in 1986.

Another ex-Brave, Chipper Jones, was expected to be part of the committee, but he tested positive for COVID-19 and was replaced by Arizona Diamondbacks President Derrick Hall.

The contemporary era committee considers candidates whose careers were primarily from 1980 on. A player needs 75% to be elected.

“It’s tough deciding on who to vote for and who not to vote for and so forth,” McGriff said. “So it’s a great honor to be unanimously voted in.”

In addition to all his big hits and memorable plays, one of McGriff’s enduring legacies is his connection to a baseball skills video from youth coach Tom Emanski. The slugger appeared in a commercial for the product that aired regularly during the late 1990s and early 2000s – wearing a blue Baseball World shirt and hat.

McGriff said he has never seen the video.

“Come Cooperstown, I’ve got to wear my blue hat,” a grinning McGriff said. “My Tom Emanski hat in Cooperstown. See that video is going to make a revival now, it’s going to come back.”

Hall of Famers Jack Morris, Ryne Sandberg, Lee Smith, Frank Thomas and Alan Trammell also served on this year’s committee, which met in San Diego at baseball’s winter meetings.

Rafael Palmeiro, Albert Belle, Don Mattingly and Dale Murphy rounded out the eight-man ballot. Mattingly was next closest to election, with eight votes of 12 required. Murphy had six.

Bonds, Clemens and Schilling fell short in January in their final chances with the BBWAA. Bonds received 260 of 394 votes (66%), Clemens 257 (65.2%) and Schilling 231 (58.6%).

Palmeiro was dropped from the BBWAA ballot after receiving 25 votes (4.4%) in his fourth appearance in 2014, falling below the 5% minimum needed to stay on. His high was 72 votes (12.6%) in 2012.

Bonds has denied knowingly using performance-enhancing drugs, and Clemens maintains he never used PEDs. Palmeiro was suspended for 10 days in August 2005 following a positive test under the major league drug program.

A seven-time NL MVP, Bonds set the career home run record with 762 and the season record with 73 in 2001. A seven-time Cy Young Award winner, Clemens went 354-184 with a 3.12 ERA and 4,672 strikeouts, third behind Nolan Ryan (5,714) and Randy Johnson (4,875). Palmeiro had 3,020 hits and 568 homers.

Schilling fell 16 votes shy with 285 (71.1%) on the 2021 BBWAA ballot. The right-hander went 216-146 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 seasons, winning the World Series with Arizona in 2001 and Boston in 2004 and 2007.

Theo Epstein, who also served on the contemporary era committee, was the GM in Boston when the Red Sox acquired Schilling in a trade with the Diamondbacks in November 2003.

Players on Major League Baseball’s ineligible list cannot be considered, a rule that excludes Pete Rose.