Andy Martino, SNY.tv | Twitter |
In light of what Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen called a "non-baseball" injury in which Yoenis Cespedes fell into a hole on his ranch and fractured an ankle, can the Mets get out of the remainder of his contract?
The answer, according to agents and executives not connected to Cespedes or the Mets, is that it depends on the specifics of how he was injured, and whether they violate certain contract language.
As an agent explained, all baseball contracts contain language about "prohibited activities," which can range from basketball, snowboarding, sky diving and other risky pastimes. Most of this language is standard, though some players try to negotiate specific exceptions or loopholes.
If a team determines that a player was engaged in a prohibited activity -- or if the team's lawyers wish to argue that the player was acting with unnecessary risk even though he wasn't technically violating the clause -- it can seek to get out of the contract.
Contrary to what is commonly believed, teams cannot "void" contracts if a player violates the prohibited activities clause. A team can, however, move to convert a contract from guaranteed to non-guaranteed, and then release the player without pay or with termination pay.
An example of this came after the 2003 season, when Yankees third baseman Aaron Boone tore his ACL playing pickup basketball. Boone decided to tell the truth about his injury, and the Yankees released him and traded for Alex Rodriguez.
Cespedes is making $29 million this season, and would make $29.5 million in 2020, the final year of his contract.
Many of the specifics of his injury remain unclear, and could determine if the Mets will have to pay him that money.