Starting in 2013, players banned for awards if they have bonus clauses
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Baseball players no longer would receive bonuses for winning the Most Valuable Player, Cy Young or rookie awards bestowed by the Baseball Writers' Association of America under a rule passed Wednesday.
Starting in 2013, players with such bonus clauses in their contracts will be banned from receiving votes for any BBWAA awards. The lag time is designed to give agents and teams an opportunity to adapt to the ban; only a handful of players are already under contract for 2013.
Hall of Fame voting is not affected, nor are manager of the year or non-BBWAA awards such as the World Series MVP or Gold Glove.
"When we first started giving out these awards it was just to honor somebody. You got a trophy, there was no monetary reward that went with it," BBWAA secretary-treasurer Jack O'Connell said. "I honestly don't think people vote with that in mind. But the attachment of a bonus to these awards creates a perception that we're trying to make these guys rich."
The vote was 41-21 on the rule, which was brought up by The Associated Press several years ago. The BBWAA appointed a committee to discuss the rule with the commissioner's office and the players' association.
"We've been on record for the past 20 years as being opposed to bonus clauses related these awards," O'Connell said. "The idea behind this was to toughen our stance against these clauses."
Gene Orza, the chief operating officer of the players' association, declined to comment. Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for labor relations, did not immediately respond to an e-mail seeking comment.
Many veterans have award clauses in their contracts, some for honors bestowed by The Sporting News and Baseball America, others for postseason awards given by Major League Baseball, such as World Series MVP. Some are small -- at least relative to the multimillion salaries -- but others are worth millions.
New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez earned a $1.5 million bonus for winning the AL MVP in 2007, and Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has a clause in his agreement for next year that would pay him $1 million if he receives even a single third-place vote for the Cy Young Award.
"The Schilling thing is disturbing because he doesn't even have to win," said O'Connell, noting that Schilling joked about a kickback to the voter if he collected the bonus. "That's something that none of us finds very funny."
Although the policy was first floated two years ago, Schilling responded with a 1,000-word, four-font, two-color posting on his blog, 38pitches.com.
"To think that these guys ever approached this as anything other than them being touted as the 'experts' on who wins what is [untrue]," he wrote. "Add to that I seriously doubt anyone ever looked at this from a perception standpoint and thought wow, they are making this guy rich. I would disagree.
"The only step that hasn't happened yet is to stop them from voting on awards altogether. They shouldn't do it. Anytime someone is allowed to vote on this, on the Hall of Fame ballot, and that person injects personal bias into their vote, they should lose the privelage [sic]."
David Schwartz, whose clients include Rudy Seanez and Josh Paul, said the rule would benefit the owners and hurt mid- or low-level players who perform better than expected.
"It seems like ownership put the writers up to this," Schwartz said. "It seems like the real beneficiaries here are owners who don't have to pay bonuses to players who've had good years. Players who have award-winning seasons ought to be rewarded for it."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press