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Starting in 2013, players banned for awards if they have bonus clauses

12/5/2007 - MLB

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."