Delgado's contract includes escalator clause worth $4 million

As Carlos Delgado elevates his MVP profile, he might also be elevating his 2009 paycheck.

Buried in the fine print of the four-year contract Delgado signed with Florida before the 2005 season is an escalator clause that could turn his $12-million option for next year into a $16-million guarantee.

The escalator isn't based on plate appearances or games played, or any of the vehicles usually used in these situations, however. It's based on awards and award voting. And that's where this could get interesting, for Delgado and the Mets.

Delgado needed to accumulate 30 awards "points" over the life of his contract to trigger that $4-million escalator. He already has five of those points, thanks to a sixth-place finish in the 2005 NL MVP voting.

Points are tallied based on his finish in MVP balloting over the life of the contract -- 10 for finishing first, nine for second, eight for third, etc.

So how could he rack up the 25 more points he needs? It's unlikely, but here's how:

If he finishes sixth or higher in this year's MVP election, which seems more probable all the time, that will get him at least five more points and push his total into double figures.

That would still leave him anywhere from 15-20 points short. But the escalator clause also includes postseason MVP points -- 20 for World Series MVP, 10 for NLCS MVP.

In other words, if Delgado wins the World Series MVP award and finishes in the top six in the regular-season MVP voting, he would reach 30 award points -- and automatically vest his option at an extra $4 million, guaranteeing him $16 million for next year.

Think that's still practically impossible? Think again. Two of the last four World Series MVPs -- Mike Lowell (2007) and Manny Ramirez (2004) -- also finished in the top six in MVP voting that season.

So Delgado's big season could pay off in more ways than one.

Jayson Stark is a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com.