SBD/Issue 232/Franchises

Mets Looking Into Voiding K-Rod's Contract After Injury In Fight

Rodriguez Is Owned $11.5M Next Season,
With $17.5M Vesting Option In '12

The Mets are "looking into the possibility of voiding closer Francisco Rodriguez's contract" after he suffered torn thumb ligaments during a fight with his girlfriend's father last week, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com. The Mets "could save at least $17 million, and potentially more," if they are successful. The club is checking on whether the contract "can be voided based upon Rodriguez injuring himself outside the course of play." Team sources said that voiding the rest of the contract -- which includes $11.5M for both '10 and '11 as well as a $17.5M vesting option in '12 -- "is something that's on the table for team higher-ups." Heyman noted the MLBPA "might have a position on this, though, as the Mets were only able to suspend Rodriguez initially for two games due to the power of the players union" (SI.com, 8/16). In N.Y., Martin & Sherman report the Mets could decide today "whether to put Rodriguez on the Disqualified or Restricted List." Should the team put him on the Restricted List, the Mets "will probably just be going after his salary while he is not available to pitch, which would include the $3.1 million he has left the rest of this season." Placing Rodriguez on the Disqualified List likely means the Mets "are going to try and void what remains on his contract." An MLBPA official last night said that the union "had yet to be notified that the Mets have filed the necessary paperwork to grieve the case." Martin & Sherman note if the Mets "file a grievance, the union will definitely counter-file." MLB teams have "not had a lot of success going after players' salaries when it comes to domestic-abuse issues." However, the Mets have working for them the fact Rodriguez' fight "took place at the ballpark" and that he "suffered his injuries as a result of the fight and can now not render his services to the team" (N.Y. POST, 8/17).

FIGHT LOOMING: In N.Y., Mike Lupica writes the Mets should suspend Rodriguez "without pay for the rest of the season ... and tell the Players Association you will have as much of a fight with them as they want to have on this." Lupica: "It will be interesting to see, in the modern world of guaranteed contracts ... why Rodriguez or the people who run his union think that he deserves to get paid after behaving this way" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/17).  On Long Island, Ken Davidoff wrote he always bets "on the union in these instances." But if the Mets "focus on this specific amount of time, AND K-Rod either settles on a deal with Queens County or gets convicted ... well, I think they'd at least have a puncher's chance" (NEWSDAY.com, 8/16). ESPN's J.P. Ricciardi said the Mets "wouldn't be doing their job if they didn't go out and try to see if they could get out from the under the contract." However, it is a "lot easier said than done." Ricciardi: "I don't see them being able to win it, but I do see them being able to go out there and at least challenge it" ("Baseball Tonight," ESPN2, 8/16). A player agent said that for the Mets to void the contract, they "would need to wait for K-Rod to plead guilty or be convicted of assaulting his girlfriend's father." However, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal writes while a guilty plea or conviction "could be viewed as a clear violation of Rodriguez's contract," the Mets could be "stuck with K-Rod even if they converted the rest of his deal to non-guaranteed" (FOXSPORTS.com, 8/17).

TEAM'S CREDIBILITY AT STAKE? ESPN's Jayson Stark said the Mets “have to make clear to people … that this is really not about the money.” Stark: “It's about some kind of moral high ground, because the Mets have this disconnect with their fan base now where their fans are really questioning what the whole organization stands for. This is really, to me, not about dollars. It's about the credibility of the franchise" ("Mike & Mike in the Morning," ESPN2, 8/17). ESPN's John Kruk said, "You can't let a guy go out, get into a fight, hurt himself, has to have surgery ... and expect to go with pay. You have to set an example to the rest of the players" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/16). However, ESPN.com's Rob Neyer wrote he is "not sure why the Mets would want to void Rodriguez's entire contract ... assuming that he's healthy after the surgery." Neyer: "If the Mets are going to overpay for a closer, they might as well overpay for this one. Unless ... axing Rodriguez is part of a larger strategy that involves spending money more wisely and (or) not putting up with ridiculously anti-social behavior. Given the Mets' recent history, I doubt if such a strategy is in the offing" (ESPN.com, 8/16).

Jeff Wilpon Has Had Diminished
Presence Around Team Of Late

PART OF DEEPER PROBLEMS: SI.com's Joe Lemire wrote under the header, "Time For Mets Owners To Speak Up As Chaotic Season Gets Worse." With the '10 season "in danger of spiraling ... out of control," neither Mets Owner Fred Wilpon nor COO Jeff Wilpon have "been heard from much." Jeff's absence is "especially conspicuous given that his one bold act of leadership from earlier in the season worked," when his talk to the team led to a 20-7 stretch. The Wilpons have been a "diminished presence around the team ... and the players have noticed." The Mets appear to have made GM Omar Minaya "management's sole voice of the team." Meanwhile, attendance at Citi Field is down around 5,000 per game this season, and "as a result so are revenues, all of which suggests that this season's $130 million payroll may ... have to be trimmed before next season" (SI.com, 8/16). MLB Network and NESN's Peter Gammons said the Mets "really need a team CEO" because the "problem is not" Minaya or manager Jerry Manuel. Gammons: "The problem is that it's just not a very functional organization" ("The Dan Patrick Show," 8/16).

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