It’s a troubling sign: The lid is off again
October 22, 2000 | Massarotti, Tony
Maybe it is merely a sign of the times, but before a single pitch had even been thrown in this historic Subway Series between the Yankees and New York Mets, baseball’s salary structure had once again been turned on its ear. The free-agency filing period officially will begin the day after the Yankees and Mets play their final game, which could be as soon as Thursday or as late as Halloween.
And when the prospective free agents begin taking off their jerseys and putting on the letters of the Major League Baseball Players Association, let the record show that they will enter the winter games standing on higher ground than they might have expected. After Roger Clemens signed an, er, interesting contract earlier this season that guarantees him $30.9 million over the 2001-2002 seasons, his average salary of roughly $15.45 million was the highest in the game, exceeding the $15 million awarded to Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Kevin Brown in 1998. Now the number has gone up again, to an average salary of $17 million that will be paid to Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Carlos Delgado during the four-year period from 2001-2004.
The most questionable contract of last winter, in fact, was signed by Delgado himself, a three-year, $36-million contract that included a $3 million signing bonus and a base salary of $5.6 million this year. But that contract allowed Delgado the right to demand a trade within 10 days of the final game in this World Series, so the Jays were forced to renegotiate with a player who threatened to win the Triple Crown this season and should finish in the top five of the MVP balloting. This contract includes a signing bonus of $4.8 million, which means Delgado has earned $7.8 million in the last year merely for signing his name. (Autograph shows not included.)
Thankfully, this contract includes a no-trade clause, which means both player and club actually may have to (gasp) honor the full deal this time.
Naturally, this is only the beginning. Technically, Delgado wasn’t even a free agent, meaning he wasn’t able to play Toronto’s offers against other teams.