When Albert Pujols signed his $240 million deal with the Angels this offseason, it was obvious that his epic contract would become a game changer for future negotiations. Though, few would have suspected it to have this kind of affect.
ESPN's Jayson Stark is reporting that MLB and the players union is cracking down on personal-service deals and milestone bonuses in player contracts usch as Albert's, meaning that 'The Machine' may have gotten himseld a one-of-a-kind deal from Arte Moreno and the rest of the Halo's braintrust.
Pujols has two very specific clauses in his contract that have sent up the red flags around the league, his 10-year personal-services contract, essentially paying him $1 million a year after he retires to be part of the organization. The other is a very rare marketing clause that could dish out upwards of $10 million for marketing rights to Albert's milestone accomplishments such as $3 million for his 3,000th hit and $7 million for possibly breaking Barry Bonds' all-time HR record.
Now MLB is letting it be known that any more provisions like this 'snuck into' the fine print will be considered a violation, and when you take a closer look you can begin to see why.
Milestones" payouts seem to violate baseball's longtime ban on bonuses for 'statistical achievements'. As Stark points out, New York Yankees hid Alex Rodriguez's milestone money as "marketing" money. But once MLB took a closer look it was obvious what they were trying to do, hoping it wouldn't happen again. Well it did, and would have if not stopped.
As for personal-services issues, that is just a whole new can of worms.
As Bobby Bonilla could attest, it's fine for a team to defer money in a whopper contract and pay it out later. But it gets tricky if the team attaches a condition that says the player only gets that money if he shakes 500 hands a week, plays golf with 11 sponsors and spends a month in spring training. And if he gets traded, then what?
MLB clubs can also use these provisions to their own economic advantage, seeing that none of it is 'guaranteed money' they could use them to avoid paying luxury-tax bills.
Luckily for Albert there won't be any retroactive repercussions for the contract, but if the ban hadn't happened now, there could have been a whirlwind of these almost money-laundering contracts in the league. But it will ensure players will get paid what they are actually deserved:
"I understand why they don't want you to do it," said an executive of one club. "Because it's [baloney]. That's why. It's just a way to masquerade stuff....Before, you had ways you could add $10 million to a deal without adding to the sticker shock of the [average annual value]. Now, the value of the player is the value of the player. You're not going to be able to add those little gimmicks that increased the value of the contract [to the guy cashing the checks] without increasing the value of the player [to the MLB accountants]."
With all this money flying around, you can be sure that MLB wants to know the truth about all of it.
For more on the Angels, check out Halos Heaven.