Should teams such as the Baltimore Orioles be offering opt-outs in their contracts?
Yesterday when talking about Wei-Yin Chen officially flying the coup and leaving the Baltimore Orioles, I alluded to the fact that I wasn’t a fan of opt-out clauses in MLB contracts. I think they’re counter-productive, and in effect they come across as a manner by which a team can all but screw themselves over. Yet it’s one of the things that seemed to get Chen to sign with Miami.
We’ve seen this before, however I would submit that it’s something that’s starting to become more popular leaguewide. As I said yesterday, I don’t see the Orioles as being a team that would offer something of that nature in negotiations. Owner Peter Angelos is very big on people honoring their word. So when he signs someone for seven years he fully expects them to be there for the seven years upon which they agreed – withstanding retirement.
And yes, I’m sympathetic to that attitude – mainly because I have the same mentality. Don’t tell me you’re going to do something only to backpeddal on it. Now the other side of the coin is that in these situations the team is basically putting into writing as part of the deal that the player has the right to backpeddal. However in my view that’s a swiss cheese contract – which again in my view isn’t a contract.
Call to the Pen
Contracts should be ironclad, not full of holes. So I would submit that this “trend” is a really bad idea. All players want a long term contract with a team, however in effect this allows people to have their cake and eat it too. If you have two or three monster seasons at the beginning of the deal and you feel that you’ve out-produced the contract, you can simply void it and suddenly be a free agent again. And the team is basically allowing it.
Yesterday I compared it to romance by saying that when you marry someone you don’t do so with the caveat that they could leave you three years in with no strings attached. That’s probably the “ultimate contract” in a way, however you get my point. Liken this to other things if you will; if you ask a girl out on a Saturday night how would you feel if in the middle of dinner she suddenly got a text and told you that a better-looking guy just asked her out and she left? The difference is that’s not a contractual situation, but you get the point.
Or turn the tables for a moment; if you sign onto a new job that’s everything you ever wanted, you’re probably going to be pretty happy. Six months in how would you feel if the company suddenly laid you off, and you later found out that they immediately hired a newbie right out of college for half of your salary? By the way, that’s perfectly legal and it happens all the time. But it’s the same attitude of welching. And I have a real problem with welchers.
The only difference here is that teams are granting players (and perhaps more directly, agents) the right to welch. So in that sense it’s all above the table given the fact that it’s in writing that the player has the right to welch. I just think it’s counter-productive from the team’s perspective. And it sends a bad message to the rest of society in that it’s okay to back out of a deal if it suddenly becomes outdated.
MASN also announced yesterday that they will be airing seven Orioles’ Grapefruit League games this spring. Fans can tune on on 3/8 vs. Boston, 3/10 vs. New York, 3/16 vs. Pittsburgh, 3/20 vs. Tampa, 3/25 vs. New York, 3/29 vs. Atlanta, and 3/30 vs. Detroit. Those final two games are at 6 PM, whereas the first five are at 1 PM. All of the televised games are home games at Ed Smith Stadium, and the afternoon games will be re-aired at either seven or eight that same evening.