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Unusual MLB Contract Clauses PDF Print E-mail
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Articles & Opinion
Written by Dave Rouleau   
Monday, 28 January 2008 22:24

A Biz of Baseball OriginalAfter signing an impressive $55 million contract with the Toronto Blue Jays after the 2005 season, it was disclosed that Allan James Burnett’s deal with the Canadian franchise included a clause that called for eight round-trip limousine trips per season between Toronto and Burnett’s Maryland home for his wife. One would think $55 million would actually cover for a few first-class airplane trips to any destination in the world, but somehow the hurler’s agent was able to squeeze out that concession from the Blue Jays front office.

Inspired by that information, I researched other contracts to see if I could come up with some gems.

Houston Astros

  • RHP Roy Oswalt was awarded, in his previous contract, a clause where he allowed the franchise owner, Drayton McLane, to give him a bulldozer for winning Game 6 of the 2005 National League Championship Series (NLCS). Agent - Robert Garber.
  • RHP Oscar Villareal, in his one-year contract that covered the 2007 season, had a point system to determine his performance bonuses, worth $25,000 each for 30, 39, 48 and 60 points. The system gave him 3 points for each game started and one point for each game finished.

Oakland Athletics

  • General Manager Billy Beane’s contract from 2006 to 2008 (the one that precedes the extension he signed recently that could extend his stay with the franchise until 2014) had a clause that allowed him to opt out of his deal upon sale of the club.

Toronto Blue Jays

  • DH Frank Thomas, when he signed his one-year deal with the Athletics in January 2006, had the possibility to pocket $50,000 if he won a Gold Glove. Agent – Arn Tellum

Atlanta Braves

  • OF Mark Kotsay’s previous contract ran from 2004 to 2006 and included an increase in salary of 1 million dollars if he was traded. Agent – Greg Genske
  • C Brian McCann 6-year deal signed in March 2007 includes a seventh year (2013) as a club option (worth $12M), but the guaranteed 2012 season becomes a club option if he fails to win specified awards in 2007-2011 (The awards are not disclosed).

(Select Read More to see more unusual contract provisions)

Milwaukee Brewers

  • RHP Ben Sheets was able to obtain the use of a suite at all Brewers home game. Agent – Casey Close
  • RHP Eric Gagne signed a contract with the Texas Rangers prior to the 2007 season that gave him a hotel suite on the road. Agent – Scott Boras
  • RHP Jeff Suppan agreed to a deal that would give him, like his teammate Ben Sheets, the use of a suite at every home game. He also receives a $300,000 assignment bonus for each trade. Agent – Lapa & Leventhal

St-Louis Cardinals

  • 3B Troy Glaus asked a payment from the Arizona Diamonbacks at contract’s end that would make up the difference in tax Glaus would pay playing in Canada rather than the United States. His contract also includes a sum of $250,000 annually for personal business expenses (wife’s equestrian training). Agent – Mike Nicotera

Chicago Cubs

  • OF Alfonso Soriano has some perks guaranteed in his 8-year contract: suite on road trips and 6 premium tickets for each home game (spring training – post season) and All-Star Game (if Soriano is selected). Agent – Diego Bentz
  • RHP Jeff Samardzija must return his (up to $7.25M) and much of remaining $10M contract he signed for a duration of five years. Agent – Mark Rodgers

Los Angeles Dodgers

  • RHP Jason Schmidt is reserved premium tickets for home games. Agent – Hendrick Brothers

San Francisco Giants

  • LHP Barry Zito, with his seven-year contract worth $126M, also included a private suite for road games. Agent – Scott Boras
  • OF Dave Roberts has the right to buy 4 premium season tickets each season. Agent – John Boggs
  • C Bengie Molina will participate in Athletic Performance Training Program each off-season at club’s expense. Agent – Alan Nero

Cleveland Indians

  • RHP Paul Byrd is provided with a suite for road games. Agent – Bo McKinnis
  • CF Grady Sizemore, if traded, receives a $500,000 assignment bonus and his salary for the remaining seasons increases by 10%. Agent – Joe Urbon

Seattle Mariners

  • OF Ichiro Suzuki has $25M of his $90M contract value deferred at 5.5% interest, reducing the deal’s average annual value to $16.1M. That money is to be paid in annual installments January 30th beginning the year after his retirement. The club provides an interpreter, trainer and transportation for spring training and the regular season. The Mariners also assure him 4 annual round-trip airline tickets from Seattle to Japan. He has an housing allowance of $32,000 in 2008, $33,000 in 2009, $34,000 in 2010, $35,000 in 2011 and $36,000 in 2012. Agent – Tony Attanasio
  • C Kenji Johjima has inserted in his contract the following perks: 12 first- or business-class airline tickets to Japan for Johjima and his family for 2006-2007, an interpreter for him and his wife (at home and on the road), English classes for his wife and a position for the catcher’s personal trainer (paid by Johjima). Agent – CSMG
  • 2B Jose Lopez can earn up $125,000 annually in physical performance bonuses: $25,000 for passing each of 4 in-season physical tests (body-fat percentage, 60-yard sprint, 20-yard shuttle run & vertical jump), plus $25,000 for passing 4 in 1 year. Agent – Martin Arburua

New York Mets

  • CF Carlos Beltran enjoys the following perks: hotel suite on road, 15-person suite at home games, club agreed to lease ocular enhancer machine (device that throws numbered & multi-colored tennis balls at 150 mph). Agent – Scott Boras
  • RHP Orlando Hernandez was awarded a suite for road games. Agent – Greg Genske

San Diego Padres

  • RHP Greg Maddux has included a suite on the road and a membership at Del Mar Country Club in his deal for 2008. Agent – Scott Boras
  • OF Brian Giles will be granted a $2M salary increase if traded. Agent – Joe Bick

Texas Rangers

  • RHP Kevin Millwood’s deal defines an injury situation: if Millwood spends 21 or more days in 2005 on the DL with a shoulder/elbow pitching injury, he loses 1/183 of the $4M signing bonus for each day on the DL. Agent – Scott Boras

Boston Red Sox

  • OF Manny Ramirez receives a no-trade clause if another Boston player receives one. He also has $31M deferred from his total contract value of $168M, to be paid out in 16 installments of $1.94M, from 2011-2026. Agent – Greg Genske (formerly Jeff Moorad)
  • RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka may not be sent to the minor leagues and he has the following perks: physical therapist, massage therapist, interpreter, 8 first-class round-trip airline tickets per year between Boston & Japan, spring training housing allowance of up to $25,000, Boston housing allowance of up to $75,000, one-time moving allowance of up to $35,000, use of Lincoln Town Car or similar car, Red Sox player ticket package, including 2 field box seats, team employee to assist Japanese media, uniform No. 18. Agent – Scott Boras
  • RHP Curt Schilling has a $2M weight clause ($333,333 each for maintaining weight in 6 random weigh-ins, one per month, during season). Agent – Ed Hayes
  • RHP Tim Wakefield has an unusual option clause: an additional 1-year, $4M club option is added each time club exercises 1 option, continuing until the club declines an option. Agent – Barry Meister
  • LHP Hideki Okajima has obtained 3 round-trip business class airline tickets per year between Boston & Japan. Agent – Anthony Nakanishi

Colorado Rockies

  • OF Matt Holliday, in his 2002-2005 contract, couldn’t play football for 3 years, but could after 2004. Agent – Scott Boras

New York Yankees

  • 3B Alex Rodriguez will make $30M with a marketing agreement based on home run milestones ($6M each for reaching 660, 714, 755 and tying and breaking major league HR record). Agent – Scott Boras

Source: Jeff Euston’s invaluable Cot’s Baseball Contracts.

For more on odd contract clauses see Maury Brown’s article on Baseball Prospectus The Ledger Domain: Private Jets, Hitting the Scales and other Colorful Contract Requests

Dave Rouleau is a staff writer for the Business of Sports Network, where he covers baseball and hockey on The Biz of Baseball and The Biz of Hockey. He also can be found on Baseball Daily Digest,, and Most Valuable Network covering the Blue Jays. His contact info can be found on our Authors Profiles.


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