Which candidates get donations from ballplayers?

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The post about the Ricketts family donating to Trump’s SuperPac got me thinking about baseball people and political donations on this slow afternoon. We’ve gone over this stuff before — all federal level donation information is public record at the FEC website — but it’s still fun to sift through.

You can search by employer and occupation if you want, and that’s where our fun starts. If you list a major league team under “employer,” you’ll usually find that owners and high-ranking executives make a lot of donations. Most of them are to Major League Baseball’s own political action committee, entitled “Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball Political Action Committee.” That’s what Rob Manfred, and Bud Selig before him, uses to influence government officials. Hey, an antitrust exemption isn’t going to maintain itself!

Of course there are a ton of individual campaign contributions as well. If you search “Atlanta Braves” under employer from 2010-2016 you see Hank Aaron gave to a congressional campaign, Bobby Cox gave to some PAC called “The 21st Century Majority Fund” and the Braves clubhouse manager gave $250 to Lindsay Graham’s campaign for some reason. Under the Yankees you see a lot of donations to Rudy Giuliani. Mark Teixeira maxed out to Marco Rubio last year. If you search for Alex Rodriguez you see he gave a bunch to George Bush in 2003 when he was with the Rangers and then to Giuliani after he was traded to the Yankees. He likes keeping it local.

You can search by occupation, too. This is more fun. For example, if you search “baseball player” you see that Lou Brock, employed by the Cardinals, doesn’t just say that he was a baseball player or that he’s a retired player. No, he says “Major League Baseball Player — HOF.” Hey, he earned it, he can identify himself however he wants to. That search also gives you Barry Zito, who have $2,000 to the Bush-Cheney campaign in 2004. Back then Zito played for the A’s and had a reputation for being a free-spirit/zen master type who had not yet publicly identified himself as a Christian the way he did later in his career. If you had bet who he was voting for based on public personas in 2004, I figure most people would’ve figured that he was a lefty in more than just his pitching.

You can find broadcasters on the list too. You will not be surprised that Vin Scully, a man of a certain age who came to professional prominence and wealth in 1950s and 1960s California, supports Republican candidates. His counterpart on the Giants, Jon Miller, favors Democratic ones. The rivalry goes deep in so many ways.

There isn’t a lot up yet for the 2016 general election season. The reporting is quarterly and the information for the quarter that came after the conventions — third quarter 2016 — does not yet appear to be on the page. Indeed, only one search for “baseball player” gives you a result. And it’s not one you might expect. It’s a $2,700 donation to the Hillary Clinton campaign from . . . Jagger Rusconi. Don’t know who Jagger Rusconi is? I didn’t either so I had to look. Turns out he was the 5th round pick of the Red Sox last year who played in low-A ball this year. Minor leaguers don’t make a lot, but he got a signing bonus north of $300K — and his family all maxed out to the Clinton campaign too — so maybe there’s more going on there than some bus league kid reading the paper and getting inspired while playing for the Lowell Spinners. Maybe his whole family was radicalized and vowed to defeat the deplorable forces Clinton is telling everyone about.

On the other side of the aisle, however, is my favorite baseball-related entry in the entire FEC database. That’d be for Curt Schilling who, not surprisingly, is politically active. He has given a good deal over the years, most recently $250 to Trump. I’m a bigger fan of his donation last September to Ben Carson. It came just after Schilling was relieved of his Sunday Night Baseball duties for ESPN and appeared to be on thin ice with the bosses. He knew it too. Check out how he lists his employer and occupation:


Like him or hate him, at least he was honest on his donation form.

Jeffrey Springs, Rays agree to $31 million, 4-year contract

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Left-hander Jeffrey Springs became the first of the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration salaries with their teams to reach a deal, agreeing Wednesday to a $31 million, four-year contract with the Tampa Bay Rays that could be worth $65.75 million over five seasons.

The 30-year old was among seven Rays who swapped arbitration figures with the team on Jan. 13. He began last season in the bullpen, transitioned to the starting rotation in May and finished 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA in 33 appearances, including 25 starts. He is 14-6 with a 2.70 ERA in 76 outings – 51 of them in relief – since he was acquired from Boston in February 2021.

Springs gets $4 million this year, $5.25 million in 2024 and $10.5 million in each of the following two seasons. Tampa Bay has a $15 million option for 2027 with a $750,000 buyout.

The 2025 and 2026 salaries can escalate by up to $3.75 million each based on innings in 2023-24 combined: $1.5 million for 300, $1 million for 325, $750,000 for 350 and $500,000 for 375. The `25 and ’26 salaries also can escalate based on finish in Cy Young Award voting in `23 and ’24: $2 million for winning, $1.5 million for finishing second through fifth in the voting and $250,000 for finishing sixth through 10th.

Tampa Bay’s option price could escalate based on Cy Young voting in 2025 and 2026: by $2.5 million for winning, $2 million for finishing second through fifth and $500,000 for sixth through 10th.

Springs would get $45.25 million if the option is exercised, $52.75 million with the option and meeting all innings targets and the maximum if he meetings the innings targets and wins two Cy Youngs.

Springs’ ERA last season was the second lowest in franchise history for a pitcher working a minimum of 100 innings. Former Rays ace Blake Snell compiled 1.89 ERA on the way to winning the 2018 AL Cy Young.

In addition to finishing sixth in the AL in ERA, Springs allowed three runs or fewer in 22 of 25 starts and two runs or fewer 17 times. He joined Tampa Bay’s rotation on May 9, gradually increasing his workload over his next six appearances. Springs was 6-3 with a 2.40 ERA in 14 starts after the All-Star break.

Arbitration hearings start next week and the Rays remain with the most players scheduled to appear before three-person panels.

Springs had asked for a raise from $947,500 to $3.55 million and had been offered $2.7 million. Tampa remains scheduled for hearings with right-handers Jason Adam, Pete Fairbanks and Ryan Thompson, left-hander Colin Poche, third baseman Yandy Diaz and outfielder Harold Ramirez.

Tampa Bay also agreed minor league contacts with catcher Gavin Collins and right-hander Jaime Schultz, who will report to major league spring training.

Infielder Austin Shenton and pitchers Anthony Molina and Joe LaSorsa also were invited to big league spring training.