This morning much was made of left-hander Phil Coke bypassing major-league contract offers to sign a minor-league deal with the Cubs, but as we’ve seen numerous times this offseason more and more minor-league deals are being signed with significant Opening Day roster guarantees attached.
In other words, teams are looking to hand out minor-league deals to mediocre veterans like Coke because they want to avoid using up a 40-man roster spot until it’s necessary and want to avoid being locked into guaranteed money if the player looks awful during spring training.
But then, if the player cracks the Opening Day roster, he gets paid just like he would if it were a major-league contract. In this case, Chris Iott of MLive.com reports that Coke’s deal is worth $2.25 million in upfront money if he makes the Opening Day roster and includes another $900,000 in appearance-based incentives.
So yes, it’s a minor-league deal. But it’s a minor-league deal with major-league money attached.