Players' union may challenge pay cut rule

CLEVELAND -- Pitcher Danys Baez was put back on the Cleveland Indians' 40-man roster Thursday, a move that could avoid baseball's maximum cut rule.

Baez was sent outright to the minor leagues on Monday. By
purchasing his contract from Triple-A Buffalo on Thursday, the
Indians protected him during the winter meeting draft on Dec. 15.

Cleveland general manager Mark Shapiro said that because of the
two moves, the rule limiting pay cuts to 20 percent no longer
applies. He called the team's handling of Baez "a unique

The move might provoke a grievance from the players'
association, which could argue that the moves shouldn't get around
the maximum cut rule. Such a case has never been litigated.

"I still feel this guy will be an elite bullpen pitcher,"
Shapiro said.

Baez agreed in January 2000 to a $14.5 million, four-year
contract. He earned $4 million in 2003 and had a $5 million option
for 2004 with a $500,000 buyout.

Cleveland declined the option on Friday, then assigned him
outright to Buffalo three days later.

Baez went 2-9 with a 3.81 ERA last season and blew 10 of 35 save
chances. If the maximum cut rule applies, Cleveland would have to
pay him at least $4.1 million next year -- 80 percent of $5,125,000
-- his $4 million salary plus one-quarter of his $4.5 million
signing bonus.

Cleveland also purchased the contracts of infielder Corey Smith
and outfielder Grady Sizemore from Double-A Akron, and left-handed
pitcher Mariano Gomez and infielder Ivan Ochoa from Class A