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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Villani: Red Sox should lock up John Lackey while they can | Boston Herald

Make Lackey play out his contract. If he decides to retire, as has been hinted, the Red Sox still hold his rights.

Jim Furtado Posted: June 12, 2014 at 08:29 AM | 189 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: john lackey, red sox

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   1. Scott Ross Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:08 AM (#4723850)
Yeah, not clear on Lackey's strategy here, as he totally gutted the Sox ability to get maximum trade value by leaking his retirement plans. So now there are three ways this can go: 1) he can retire and sit out 2015, 2) he pout and sulk all the way through 2015 while the Sox trot him out every fifth day or 3) he can keep his mouth shut and play to the best of his abilities in 2015. Regardless of whether he's motivated by money, competition or glory, only one of those scenarios makes any sense.
   2. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4723855)
What I'd do is see if Lackey was willing to take a deal at something around the QO amount for 2016. Make the 1/500K deal a 2/16 deal. It gives Lackey a little face savings and still gives the Sox a pretty good deal. If he's looking for a 2-3 year extension then no freakin' way.
   3. Steve Balboni's Personal Trainer Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:20 AM (#4723860)
I totally agree with Jose in #2 - while Lackey should live up to the contract he signed (after all, if he had been healthy but ineffective for the full five years, the Red Sox would have to pay him, yes?), there is an element of saving face that seems like a mutually-beneficial solution here.

I'd go:
2015: 500K
2016: ~$15M, guaranteed
2017: vesting option based on performance and durability (something like at 180 innings he gets at least $10M, where the better he performs in 2016, the higher the guaranteed amount becomes, up to a limit of $15M or something.)

It is rather remarkable how the narrative on Lackey has turned around over the course of his time in Boston...
   4. Textbook Editor Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:24 AM (#4723863)
As I've said in other venues... There is 0% chance Lackey pitches all of 2015 on a $500,000 salary. 0%. Just not going to happen.

I don't think the Red Sox planned for him to do so either, even though they wrote the clause in. All the clause does is give them leverage:

a) Even if Lackey "retires" my understanding is he'd still owe the Red Sox 1 year of services for $500,000. He can't just "retire," sit out 2015, and then "unretire" and become a FA.

b) If Lackey wants a 2-3 year extension (and not just 1 year as Jose posits in #2--a position I agree with), you accept trade offers. He's not a 10/5 guy, and any team trading for him would likely want a window to negotiate an extension (similar to the Schilling trade with AZ). You may not get much back, but you might get some useful chips for later trades.

The people who suggest Lackey will just pitch 2015 under his current contract are just not thinking clearly. No veteran--none--would pitch/play under that contract. They would either retire, force an extension with their current team, or force a trade to a team that would extend him.

I suppose the real argument here might be: should the Red Sox have made the clause a $5 million option (or something around there)--i.e., not so small that Lackey would consider retirement or forcing a trade. If the option was for $5 million (still basically chump change), this might play out differently/have a different tone to it when discussed.
   5. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:39 AM (#4723878)
TE - If the Red Sox called his bluff, do you think there is any way in hell that John Lackey would walk away from baseball?
No veteran--none--would pitch/play under that contract.

His contract is 5 years of pitching for $80 million, happening over either 5 or 6 calendar years. It's the same contract. He's been pitching (or not pitching) under that contract for years.

The people who suggest Lackey will just pitch 2015 under his current contract


I'm only suggesting there's a chance it happens.
   6. Textbook Editor Posted: June 12, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4723895)
NN--It may be the same contract; it is not the same time frame as the day he signed it. The day he signed it it was worth $80 million. It is now worth $500,000. We can argue about whether or not Lackey should "honor his contract" or be a stand-up guy, etc., etc. but it doesn't change the fact that it's a 1-year contract for $500,000 and there's not a player on Earth who's pitched like he has the past ~1.5 years who would play out that contract with trying to push any/all leverage into getting an extension.

If the Red Sox called his bluff then yes, I believe he'd walk away. I'm probably in the distinct minority, but I think he would either truly retire or hold out long enough so as to ruin his chances of pitching for the Red Sox in 2015 and thereby force the Red Sox into trading him to a team that would give him an extension.

Frankly, I don't think Lackey's coming back; I think he's either going to retire or force a trade.
   7. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 10:09 AM (#4723904)
He's not a 10/5 guy


It's not clear to me what time frame you were talking about for a trade but he becomes a 10/5 guy at the end of the season.
   8. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 10:10 AM (#4723906)

If the Red Sox called his bluff then yes, I believe he'd walk away. I'm probably in the distinct minority, but I think he would either truly retire or hold out long enough so as to ruin his chances of pitching for the Red Sox in 2015 and thereby force the Red Sox into trading him to a team that would give him an extension.

If the Sox really called his bluff, they wouldn't be forced to do anything. He would be forced to do something in order to change the situation (i.e. pitch). I really can't imagine him retiring, although I can certainly see him threatening to do it. He would be walking away from tens of millions of dollars, probably, plus whatever joys he gets from pitching.

If they called his bluff, what would be his motivation for retiring?
It may be the same contract; it is not the same time frame as the day he signed it.

It has had the timeframe of possibly ending after 2015 since the moment he signed it.

   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:04 AM (#4723932)
As I've said in other venues... There is 0% chance Lackey pitches all of 2015 on a $500,000 salary. 0%. Just not going to happen.

Concur. He'll walk away rather than play for the minimum.
   10. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:05 AM (#4723935)
a) Even if Lackey "retires" my understanding is he'd still owe the Red Sox 1 year of services for $500,000. He can't just "retire," sit out 2015, and then "unretire" and become a FA.

Is this true? I thought if you sit out a full year, you become a FA?
   11. The Clarence Thomas of BBTF (scott) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:23 AM (#4723952)
I'm pretty sure that by retiring under contract he'd come back and the Sox would still have his rights. But I could be wrong.

I'd force him to choose between retiring and pitching, he made the deal, he knows why it was made, and he knows that not only did he pitch like dogshit before finally going under the knife but he then missed a whole year... for which he was still compensated handsomely. If he didn't like the deal, he shouldn't have made it. He's an adult.

eta: I should also add that I won't think less of him for walking away. Dude has made a ton of money, and if he doesn't want to finish his deal that's entirely his choice. And I don't even mind him trying to get an extension so much, but I personally as the Sox would take the 500k year and then let him walk.
   12. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:28 AM (#4723959)
The people who suggest Lackey will just pitch 2015 under his current contract are just not thinking clearly. No veteran--none--would pitch/play under that contract.


If he wasn't prepared to pitch under that contract, then he shouldn't have signed that contract. He has no one to blame but himself.
   13. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4723970)
Concur. He'll walk away rather than play for the minimum.

But what would be his motivation? He would be walking away from way more money than just the $500k.
Is this true? I thought if you sit out a full year, you become a FA?

I don't think so.
   14. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:45 AM (#4723977)
I should also add that I won't think less of him for walking away. Dude has made a ton of money, and if he doesn't want to finish his deal that's entirely his choice.

I agree. That's part of the deal; he doesn't have to pitch the last year in order to get the $80m if his career is over.
   15. Jim Furtado Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:53 AM (#4723989)
Buster Olney talked about the contract

Back in April, ESPN had a Wednesday night broadcast in Boston, and colleagues Rick Sutcliffe, Aaron Boone and others wondered how a player who has had that much success, with that much experience, could pitch an entire season for the minimum. Something would change, Aaron said.

He may well be right.

But it doesn’t have to change, if Boston doesn’t want it to; the Red Sox are on rock-solid contractual ground. In spite of some speculation that Lackey could pitch in Japan next season, the working agreement between MLB and the Japan League would make that impossible. Players cannot simply walk out of their contractual obligations to go play in Japan, or leave Japan to play in Major League Baseball.

If a player in Lackey’s situation decided he would rather retire than pitch for the minimum, the Red Sox could simply place the player on a restricted list -- and the last year of the deal would remain in place in the event that the player changed his mind. So it’s not as if Lackey has the option of walking away from baseball until his contract runs out. He owes the Red Sox one year at $500,000.

And you know what? That’s completely fair. Everyone involved in the negotiations made the agreement with eyes wide open, understanding exactly why the $500,000 option was put in place -- to create an avenue for Lackey to be assured of his $82.5 million, and to protect the Red Sox against an elbow injury that all sides acknowledged was inevitable. Boston paid Lackey $15.25 million in 2012, the year Lackey missed, and it’s not as if the Red Sox ever thought about asking out of the deal when Lackey got injured. Boston has honored its end of the contract, fully.
   16. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:06 PM (#4724003)
It's not clear to me what time frame you were talking about for a trade but he becomes a 10/5 guy at the end of the season.


His 10-5 rights don't matter to the Red Sox, since it's a contract issue.

If they do trade him, he wouldn't have 10-5 rights with his new club.

I tend to think he'd retire, or at least sit out long enough to force a move. I'm with TE that he doesn't pitch in 2015 on a $500,000 deal.


   17. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4724011)
sit out long enough to force a move.

Sitting out longer doesn't force anything.

I think they might work out an extension, but I don't expect the Sox to feel any motivation or obligation to make it above-market.
   18. Ron J2 Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:19 PM (#4724012)
#10 Never been tested in MLB, but the precedent in the NHL is Alexi Yashin and he lost in arbitration (ended up having to play in 2000-2001 under his old contract despite sitting out all of 1999-2000)
   19. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:25 PM (#4724021)
Sitting out longer doesn't force anything.


Lackey is an asset. If they want to extract value out of that asset other than spite, they have an incentive to move from their position of $500,000 or bust.

   20. Dale Sams Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:28 PM (#4724024)
If a player in Lackey’s situation decided he would rather retire than pitch for the minimum, the Red Sox could simply place the player on a restricted list -- and the last year of the deal would remain in place in the event that the player changed his mind. So it’s not as if Lackey has the option of walking away from baseball until his contract runs out. He owes the Red Sox one year at $500,000.


Well, what happened with Colon then?

On September 19, 2008, Colón was placed on the suspended list by the Red Sox after leaving for the Dominican Republic to handle "personal matters" and deciding to stay, effectively ending his Red Sox career.[10] Colón was placed on the restricted list on September 25, 2008. Colón spent the post-season on the restricted list as the Red Sox won the 2008 ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 4 games, but lost the 2008 ALCS against the Tampa Bay Rays in 7 games. He filed for free agency after the end of the 2008 season



   21. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:34 PM (#4724031)
Lackey is an asset. If they want to extract value out of that asset other than spite, they have an incentive to move from their position of $500,000 or bust.

Doesn't he have way more incentive?
   22. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:41 PM (#4724037)

Doesn't he have way more incentive?


Of course, which will influence the likelihood of sitting out. It doesn't change the fact that the only way the Sox can extract value from Lackey is if Lackey is in a big-league uniform, theirs or someone else's.

Ultimately, this isn't a zero-sum game. If Lackey opts to lose, the Sox don't win.

   23. attaboy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:48 PM (#4724043)
Whereas I am sure he feels obligated to pitch, I find it hard to believe that a veteran pitcher will be willing to put the wear and tear on his arm/elbow for 500K. I have to imagine something is done to remedy this for both him and the team.
   24. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:50 PM (#4724044)
Of course, which will influence the likelihood of sitting out. It doesn't change the fact that the only way the Sox can extract value from Lackey is if Lackey is in a big-league uniform, theirs or someone else's.

Ultimately, this isn't a zero-sum game. If Lackey opts to lose, the Sox don't win.


Right, but if they believe that he would not actually retire, their incentive to voluntarily change the contract evaporates.

If Jon Lester had demanded $18m this year or else he would retire, they would know that the threat was not credible. This seems likely to be the same for Lackey. It's very rare for big contracts to be changed, mid-contract, for the benefit of either party - without anything in return. The Sox made Pedro's 2004 guaranteed earlier than they had to. What are other examples?
   25. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:51 PM (#4724045)
I find it hard to believe that a veteran pitcher will be willing to put the wear and tear on his arm/elbow for 500K.

It wouldn't be for the $500k, it would be for the millions of dollars in his subsequent contract(s).
   26. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 12:55 PM (#4724052)
Right, but if they believe that he would not actually retire, their incentive to voluntarily change the contract evaporates.


They may not believe it now, but each day of the season he isn't pitching, the credibility of that threat continues to increase. At some point, the Red Sox may decide it's better to move from their position to get some value out of that asset.

Now, I don't think it gets to there, as some face-saving compromise is the most likely outcome. I just don't see a veteran pitcher, coming off two solid seasons, is going to pitch for near the league minimum.

   27. Greg Pope thinks the Cubs are reeking havoc Posted: June 12, 2014 at 01:02 PM (#4724056)
I have nothing against Lackey or the Red Sox, but I hope that he either plays for the 500K or retires. I hate, hate, hate when someone comes to an agreement and then when the time comes to uphold their end of the bargain, they balk and say it's not fair. I don't think Lackey's said anything on the matter, so I don't want to prejudge him.

As Olney says, the Red Sox paid Lackey 15M in 2012 and got nothing out of that year. This isn't some sort of forced contract that Lackey had to sign. He knew that there was a chance that he'd have to play a year at 500K and in return for that, he presumably got something else. He may have thought that it was unlikely, but it was right there in the contract.
   28. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 01:43 PM (#4724092)
I just don't see a veteran pitcher, coming off two solid seasons, is going to pitch for near the league minimum.

I think this is irrational, and ignores the rest of the contract that the option stems from.

The leverage of a threat of retirement is a rational concept, and the possibility of an extension is a logical possibility, but the incongruity of a portion of a player's contract not matching his status in a given year within the contract is not a reason for it not to happen. Once the option became a factor, the contract became extremely front-loaded, and I think all parties involved understand this. Front-loading was good for Lackey (compared to speading the '12-'15 money out evenly), because he got the money up-front which is always good, and it gave him the $80m even if he retires before 2015.
   29. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 01:52 PM (#4724104)
I think this is irrational, and ignores the rest of the contract that the option stems from.


And I would suggest that your straightforward reading of everything ignores reality.

But let's forget all of this. Let's boil it down:

Do you think Lackey will pitch for $500,000 in 2015?

If so, wanna bet?
   30. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:12 PM (#4724137)
Do you think Lackey will pitch for $500,000 in 2015?

If so, wanna bet?

I think the chances are greater than zero but less than 100%, how do we convert that to a bet?

I would also bet that Lackey does not retire after this season.
   31. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:24 PM (#4724153)
It takes considerable effort to pitch effectively at the MLB level. I suspect Minimum Salary John Lackey will give Boston his best minimum effort. Just keeping the weight off has a lot less appeal for what amounts to chump change for a guy who's made $108M. Boston might be forced with the choice of cutting Lackey, letting him profit from his poor effort, or trotting him out every 5th day to mediocre results, potentially ruining the 2015 season. Why take the risk? The idea is to win on the field, not every aspect of the bottom line, at least for a team rolling in dough. The Red Sox should be able to sign Lackey to a somewhat discounted deal for 2015-16, or longer if they really like him, but insisting on the minimum salary option year has a good chance of blowing up in everyone's face.
   32. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:30 PM (#4724157)
Just keeping the weight off has a lot less appeal for what amounts to chump change

He would be pitching for his next contract - that's way more than chump change.

In general, why don't your points also apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?
   33. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:43 PM (#4724171)
In general, why don't your points also apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?


It's a matter of degree. I suspect Lackey pitching for something like $5 million would feel like "eh, I gambled and lost" whereas a Lackey pitching for $500,000 is going to feel like "who the #### am I after 150 wins and 2 world series clinchers having to prove myself again?"

You're right with everything you are saying but I think the reality of the situation is different from what should be.
   34. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:52 PM (#4724179)
Who has to save face here? As somebody said upthread, this is just a front-loaded contract. And presumably Lackey doesn't care about money anymore, the marginal utility of anything above his career earnings has got to be arbitrarily close to zero. What this probably comes down to is whether Lackey prefers to play baseball or spend time with his family (/travel the world /collect stamps /go hunting /whatever John Lackey likes to do).
   35. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:53 PM (#4724181)
In general, why don't your points also apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?

Plenty of guys have held out to get bargain contracts re-written.

Why not just pay him $7M for next year and keep him happy? If he's still pitching well at year-end, that's chump change for the Sox.
   36. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4724183)
If Lackey does retire, presumably these clauses don't appear in any more contracts. Could they be replaced, in future contracts, with a clause stipulating that a player who misses a year with a specific injury gets the minimum for that year, or does that violate something in the CBA?
   37. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:55 PM (#4724185)
Mike Trout put up 10 WAR seasons getting paid league minimum, granted that is standard for up and comers and not for veterans. This is a case where there is really no precedent for Lacky's contract so I no idea what to expect to happen.
   38. Swedish Chef Posted: June 12, 2014 at 02:57 PM (#4724189)
In general, why don't your points also apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?

A difference is that Lackey is 35, he would be thinking about when to retire in any case. If his plan was to hang it up at 37 or 38, having to play a year for free could be the tipping point for him to rev up the Playstation and order the fried chicken right now instead.
   39. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:06 PM (#4724203)
Plenty of guys have held out to get bargain contracts re-written.


In baseball, in recent history? who?

Why not just pay him $7M for next year and keep him happy. If he's still pitching well at year-end, that's chump change for the Sox.

I suspect Lackey pitching for something like $5 million would feel like "eh, I gambled and lost" whereas a Lackey pitching for $500,000 is going to feel like "who the #### am I after 150 wins and 2 world series clinchers having to prove myself again?"


In terms of keeping a player happy, I think you have to factor in how reasonable or rational his potential unhappiness is. If Zito, before the last year of his deal, says that he will be unhappy if a big extension isn't tacked on, don't you ignore it? But if Pedro Martinez, who had been a bargain even with his big contract, asks you to guarantee his option year a little early, you comply. Or you might give a pre-arb superstar ROY $80,000 more than you have to for his second-year salary. But Lackey won't be some huge bargain, even with 2015 included.
   40. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:10 PM (#4724209)
Just keeping the weight off has a lot less appeal for what amounts to chump change

He would be pitching for his next contract - that's way more than chump change.

Lackey can resurrect his value (or most of it) by doing well with another team after Boston releases him or even in the off-season. Folks here are deluding themselves, IMHO, if they think Lackey will just suck-it-up and try to win 20 games while earning the Major League Minimum. Maybe he should, but I don't think it is likely. Even if he were to play well for the minimum in 2015, doesn't that make it far more likely he walks in 2016? Boston would probably need to overpay to keep him if he thinks they stiffed him after he pitched through injuries to try to help the team - which is probably how he looks at his situation.
   41. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:12 PM (#4724213)
In baseball, in recent history? who?

Not baseball so much, but it happens in the NFL pretty frequently, though it is usually resolved during training camp.

But then, you rarely have underpaid veterans in MLB. They're almost always overpaid.

But Lackey won't be some huge bargain, even with 2015 included.

If he finishes the season the way he's pitching, he'll be a gigantic bargain.

Where else are you going to find a similar pitcher on a one-year commitment? There is literally zero reason for the Red Sox to risk him holding out, or half-assing the season, rather than throw him some more money, unless the Red Sox are punting 2015.
   42. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:15 PM (#4724217)
He'll be 36 after next year, I doubt that keeping him beyond his contract is high on the Red Sox's list of things to do.
   43. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:17 PM (#4724219)
The Red Sox didn't pay Lackey the year he didn't pitch, an insurance company did.
   44. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:19 PM (#4724222)
And presumably Lackey doesn't care about money anymore


Players ALWAYS care about money. Even if it's just money as a way of keeping score they always care.
   45. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:20 PM (#4724225)

Not baseball so much, but it happens in the NFL pretty frequently,

I think the NFL is totally irrelevant.

But then, you rarely have underpaid veterans in MLB. They're almost always overpaid.

Why restrict it only to veterans? And there are plenty of them who are underpaid. For this year on the Sox alone, there is Lester and Uehara.
   46. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:23 PM (#4724231)
He'll be 36 after next year, I doubt that keeping him beyond his contract is high on the Red Sox's list of things to do.

If that's the case, they really ought to explore trading Lackey rather than going the high-risk minimum salary route. Seems far too risky a proposition for a contender. The idea is to win on the field, not beat a player at the negotiating table if it harms the team. Now, personally, I think Lackey playing out his existing contract without any modification or extension is the best option for non-Boston fans, so feel free to disregard my advice.
   47. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:25 PM (#4724234)
If he finishes the season the way he's pitching, he'll be a gigantic bargain.


I meant his $80m contract - his 5 years total.
   48. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:27 PM (#4724237)

If that's the case, they really ought to explore trading Lackey rather than going the high-risk minimum salary route. Seems far too risky a proposition for a contender. The idea is to win on the field, not beat a player at the negotiating table if it harms the team.


Again I ask, why shouldn't these things apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?
   49. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:29 PM (#4724239)
I think the NFL is totally irrelevant.

Not in terms of assessing the psychology of players who feel vastly underpaid.

Why restrict it only to veterans? And there are plenty of them who are underpaid. For this year on the Sox alone, there is Lester and Uehara.

Because young players expect to be underpaid. It's not unusual; everyone else like them is in the same boat.

Lester is making $13M. That's a far cry from $500K. Even Uehara is making $4.25M, plus a bunch of $125K incentives, so he should make close to $5M.

I agree with Jose. If it was $5M for next year, he'd shrug andunhappily accept it. $500K is viewed as an insult.
   50. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:30 PM (#4724242)
I meant his $80m contract - his 5 years total.

No one looks at it that way. Not the team, not the player.
   51. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:33 PM (#4724248)
Again I ask, why shouldn't these things apply to other players who are in the middle of bargain contracts, or are in the pre-free agency parts of their careers? Why shouldn't those guys also be given more than what has been contractually decided upon, just to keep them motivated and happy?


You can, it's just not seemed necessary because those guys are looking to get that first big contract, and thus have motivation enough.

John Lackey has already gotten his big payday. He doesn't have to play next year. If none of this was out there, but he was just at the end of his contract, it wouldn't be completely unheard of that he decided to hang em up at age 36. Now most guys don't do that, but Mike Mussina was only a few years older and still damn effective when he called it quits.

The way MLB is played, veterans who come off good seasons don't play the next season for the league minimum. John Lackey won't either, the odd contract stipulation notwithstanding.

This doesn't mean it's right, or rational or fair or whatever you want to call it. But considering how ballplayers act and think, it's reality.

   52. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4724253)
It's not quite the same situation but Bret Saberhagen was on the verge of walking away because his divorce was going to leave him playing for a very low return. He ultimately did not retire but I remember this being a thing for awhile.
   53. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:40 PM (#4724256)
Not in terms of assessing the psychology of players who feel vastly underpaid.

But totally irrelevant in terms of how teams react to those feelings. I asked earlier, but what are examples of baseball teams improving on existing big contracts without getting something in return? Even more relevant is: what are examples of baseball teams improving on existing big contracts which haven't been great bargains so far without getting something in return
No one looks at it that way. Not the team, not the player.

I think you're wrong. But if so, do you really cater to a guy complaining about being underpaid after you just gave him $16 m per year to average 154 innings with a 98 ERA+?
   54. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:44 PM (#4724262)
what are examples of baseball teams improving on existing big contracts which haven't been great bargains so far without getting something in return


This is situation is unique or close to it. I don't remember anyone ever being in this situation from a contract standpoint. It's one thing to have a below market deal it's another to get paid the absolute minimum.
   55. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:45 PM (#4724263)
But if so, do you really cater to a guy complaining about being underpaid after you just gave him $16 m per year to average 154 innings with a 98 ERA+?


I don't know, maybe you do if you want to sign any FA's down the road.
   56. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4724265)
SoSH, will you give me 50-to-1? 40-to-1?

The way MLB is played, veterans who come off good seasons don't play the next season for the league minimum. John Lackey won't either, the odd contract stipulation notwithstanding.

This doesn't mean it's right, or rational or fair or whatever you want to call it. But considering how ballplayers act and think, it's reality.


How can you say "it's reality" when this kind of clause hasn't happened before?

Isn't it also reality that teams very rarely (if ever) improve an existing big contract without getting anything in return if the player hasn't been a bargain so far? At least that statement has some historical examples on which to base it.
   57. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:47 PM (#4724266)
But totally irrelevant in terms of how teams react to those feelings.

No, it's not. The NFL teams almost always compromise.

I asked earlier, but what are examples of baseball teams improving on existing big contracts without getting something in return? Even more relevant is: what are examples of baseball teams improving on existing big contracts which haven't been great bargains so far without getting something in return

The Red Sox can probably get 2/20 instead of 1/5-7, or 1/7 with an $15-18M option if they want it. At his age, I'd rather keep my commitment to Lackey at a minimum.
   58. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:52 PM (#4724270)

I don't know, maybe you do if you want to sign any FA's down the road.

There are 30 teams out there who don't improve existing contracts out of the generosity of their heart, and somehow free agents sign with them.
It's one thing to have a below market deal it's another to get paid the absolute minimum.

Right, but isn't that somewhat balanced out by an earlier part of the contract that paid $30m for 160 worse-than-worthless innings?

Again I want re-iterate that I only think there's a chance the contract will play out as-is.
   59. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 03:57 PM (#4724272)
How can you say "it's reality" when this kind of clause hasn't happened before?


I guess for the same reason you can be so certain that this one-of-a-kind extension will be followed exactly, despite the fact that it flies in the face of how major league ballplayers operate in terms of the perception of their worth.

Isn't it also reality that teams very rarely (if ever) improve an existing big contract without getting anything in return if the player hasn't been a bargain so far? At least that statement has some historical examples on which to base it.


First of all, I don't think the Red Sox simply hand Lackey 8 million to pitch next year on a one-year deal. I don't think anyone's suggested they simply pretend the extension doesn't exist. There will be a compromise deal that allows Lackey some face saving while not giving up the team's contractual leverage.

Second, I don't think Lackey thinks this is the middle of a big deal. It's a weird appendage that, if the Red Sox hold firm on, will result in him walking away (at least temporarily). He won't pitch for the league minimum next year. Since you seem to think the exact same thing, I'm not sure why you're pressing so hard here.
   60. Barry`s_Lazy_Boy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:00 PM (#4724275)
The NFL market is not a valid comparison in any way, shape or form. The lack of contract guarantee means things are always in flux. Baseball is totally different.

$7M is not "chump change". If the Red Sox are attempting to stay under the luxury tax, that is $7M they can't spend elsewhere.

Its silly to pretend a free agent will avoid a large contract from the Red Sox due to them making Lackey stick to the $80M contract he signed.

   61. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:05 PM (#4724279)
I guess for the same reason you can be so certain that this one-of-a-kind extension will be followed exactly

See #5, and #58, I only think there's a chance the extension will play out as it currently exists.
He won't pitch for the league minimum next year. Since you seem to think the exact same thing

What? Didn't you just write that I am certain that he will pitch for the league minimum?
   62. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:07 PM (#4724282)
But totally irrelevant in terms of how teams react to those feelings.


No, it's not. The NFL teams almost always compromise.


?? It's irrelevant to how baseball teams react to those feelings.

And I don't understand how the second part of your post #57 relates to what you quoted.
   63. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:22 PM (#4724316)
Here are the questions that would need to be answered to figure out what is going to happen:

1. What is Lackey's projected (marginal) value to the Red Sox for next year?

2. What is the value to Lackey in ending his career here? (This could be positive, if he'd rather spend time with his family, or it could be negative, if he likes playing baseball or expects to get another contract after this one.)


The answer to 1 is clearly greater than $500k. If the answer to 2 is greater than the answer to 1, he retires and that's that.* If Lackey knows the answer to 1 and the Red Sox know the answer to 2, we should expect them to split the difference. It's hard to tell what the difference would be, since we can't even guess as to the answer to 2. If Lackey does expect another big contract, the value to him of retiring now may be massively negative, in which case he might play for $500k. If he really likes his family (and doesn't care much about money, or doesn't expect another contract), the threat to retire must be taken seriously and splitting the difference might end up giving him almost the full value of 1.

*Unless a trade partner values him more than the Red Sox do, and more than he values his free time.


Now, that presupposes that Lackey and the Red Sox have full information. Which is probably false. If it is, we'd need to know the answers to these questions also:

1a. What does Lackey (or his agent) think that the Red Sox think that his projected value will be for next year?

2a. What do the Red Sox think that Lackey thinks the value of ending his career here would be?

And perhaps further iterations.
   64. AROM Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:36 PM (#4724344)
if he'd rather spend time with his family


Does he even have one? Just remember his divorce a few years ago when his wife was battling cancer.

According to Wikipedia: "John resides in the Fort Worth area in the off season with his girlfriend and their daughter."
   65. AROM Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:40 PM (#4724352)
It will be interesting to see how this works out. I'm pretty sure it's an unprecedented contractual situation though, so no point in looking for precedents.

How many all star quality, mid-30's veterans have been obligated to play for the league minimum? Can't think of any.

Ben Zobrist has been underpaid for years, but he's been making 4.5-5.5 million the last few years. His 2015 option is for 7 million.
   66. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:44 PM (#4724358)
Why would it have to be the league minimum? Wouldn't you expect the same situation whenever someone could plausibly threaten to retire and is due to be paid less than they are projected to be worth?
   67. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 12, 2014 at 04:49 PM (#4724374)
If the Red Sox think that Lackey will be worth what he'll demand for a new contract, they should give it to him. If they do not, they should not give it to him.

If Lackey retires instead of playing, then the Red Sox should go sign Max Scherzer instead.
   68. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:02 PM (#4724384)
If the Red Sox think that Lackey will be worth what he'll demand for a new contract, they should give it to him.

Not if they don't believe he would actually retire.
   69. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:03 PM (#4724386)
There are 30 teams out there who don't improve existing contracts out of the generosity of their heart, and somehow free agents sign with them.


Probably not, but how many teams have a veteran signed with this type of condition? I never heard of such a deal. It was a good deal for the team, obviously, and I don't remember hearing about anything like it.
   70. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:16 PM (#4724402)

Why would it have to be the league minimum? Wouldn't you expect the same situation whenever someone could plausibly threaten to retire and is due to be paid less than they are projected to be worth?


Why? The plausibility of the retirement claim has to be somewhat dependent on the amount of pay the player is giving up. It doesn't have to be baseball minimum wage, but surely you can see why checking out instead of pocketing $500K is different than doing so for $13.5 million.

As I said earlier, I imagine that John Lackey and the Sox will reach some arrangement that allows Lackey to play for more than the minimum (likely by adding a second year at below market rates), while also letting the Sox leverage their upper hand). But if the Sox hold firm, I think it's far, far more likely that Lackey is at home on Opening Day than he is making near the minimum.
   71. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:35 PM (#4724435)
That's what the _plausibly_ threaten to retire bit is all about. If they're due many millions it's not a plausible threat.
   72. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:38 PM (#4724444)

That's what the _plausibly_ threaten to retire bit is all about. If they're due many millions it's not a plausible threat.



Then I don't understand your question in 66.
   73. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:43 PM (#4724454)
It may be in Lackey's best financial interest to forgo a below-market 2-year deal and just try to get to free agency healthy after '15 instead of '16. He has bet on his health before. He may be willing to do it again, assuming he can get over the contract-related amnesia and insecurity that people here are externally ascribing to him.
   74. Joe Bivens, Minor Genius Posted: June 12, 2014 at 05:56 PM (#4724480)
I agree with 73. If he wants another contract, he has to honor his current one. The Red Sox could also give him an extension for good money. You never know.
   75. The Yankee Clapper Posted: June 12, 2014 at 06:00 PM (#4724486)
He has bet on his health before. He may be willing to do it again, assuming he can get over the contract-related amnesia and insecurity that people here are externally ascribing to him.

Or he could have a series of "Manny Ramirez" type injuries, just to jerk the Sox around. Why would they want to risk that just to save a few dollars? If Lackey was a back of the bullpen guy, than maybe you want him cheap or not at all, but doing that with starting pitched seems more risk than reward. What is the value on making the playoffs? On winning the playoffs? Lots more than Boston would lose by redoing Lackey's deal.

EDIT: Another potential Lackey strategy is to indicate that he'll retire rather than play for the minimum, wait for the Red Sox to take action to replace him, and then un-retire at the start of spring training. Boston would have to remake the roster, while also still dealing with the presence of an unhappy player with an uncertain commitment. Better off spending some money to avoid that, but it would be kind of entertaining to see what happens if they don't.
   76. Walt Davis Posted: June 12, 2014 at 06:04 PM (#4724491)
Haven't made it through the whole thread so maybe addressed ...

the closest analogy are the many cases where a player has had a vesting option based on games played or starts or whatever. There is always debate about whether the team should bench the struggling player, are they just benching him to avoid the option, etc.

The first time I recall that happening was actually with the Red Sox and Steve Avery. Wiki doesn't give the details and I don't recall the particulars but I think they could have gotten out from the 98 portion of the contract but chose to exercise it anyway rather than cause a fight, reportedly in part to remain attractive to future free agents. This came up also with the Tigers and Magglio Ordonez and the Tigers kept Ordonez in the lineup ... and pretty much every time there's an option that vests based on playing time and the player is healthy but under-performing this issue comes up.

The other similarity is all the bargain buyouts. These are obviously cases where the team is using their leverage to get the first few FA years cheap. And at least some of the "double dip" contracts, especially Longoria's. So the Rays first essentially forced him to sign a buyout to get promoted then, a few years later, used the leverage of the ridiculously cheap buyout to extend him cheaply through 36.

The Red Sox essentially have to decide if they want Lackey to pitch for them in 2015. If the answer to that is yes, they'll have to guarantee at least 2016. If the answer is no, they should trade him to a team that will extend him. If the answer is yes but only at $500 K, they should trade him to a team that will extend him.

If anything, Lackey's trade value is at a maximum. With the Sox now 4.5 back of the WC with 9 teams to pass -- tied with the Astros for crying out loud -- they should trade him at the deadline. They might want to strike before the Rays start seriously shopping Price.

   77. Ziggy Posted: June 12, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4724516)
Why would they have to guarantee 2016? If they think that he really really wants to keep playing (for the next contract, or because he likes baseball), they can say "we've decided that it's in the best interest of the club not to extend Mr. Lackey, we look forward to having him on the team in 2015 and we wish him well afterwards" and just exercise the $500k option, and if they think that he only sorta wants to keep playing they could (like I said in 63) split the difference with him. With that they could go two routes, either a contract for 2016 (which would have to be ABOVE market - whatever he'd get for 2016 as a FA, plus cash to make up for his 2015 contract, plus whatever it's worth to him to give up the shot at a long-term deal), or increase his salary for 2015.
   78. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4724523)
Or he could have a series of "Manny Ramirez" type injuries, just to jerk the Sox around. Why would they want to risk that just to save a few dollars? If Lackey was a back of the bullpen guy, than maybe you want him cheap or not at all, but doing that with starting pitched seems more risk than reward. What is the value on making the playoffs? On winning the playoffs? Lots more than Boston would lose by redoing Lackey's deal.


Why is everyone so down on Lackey? Supposedly he's so stupid and/or greedy he won't acknowledge the connection between 2015 and the rest of the contract? Or this theory that he will tank games or somehow try to sabotage the Red Sox because .... because... I'm not sure. What exactly would be his motivation for hating the Sox in this scenario?
   79. Nasty Nate Posted: June 12, 2014 at 06:38 PM (#4724525)
the closest analogy are the many cases where a player has had a vesting option based on games played or starts or whatever. There is always debate about whether the team should bench the struggling player, are they just benching him to avoid the option, etc.


Isn't a much closer analogy the club options which turn out to be bargains that are often at the end of extensions that pre-FA players sign (e.g. Lester this year, Adrian Gonzalez with the Padres, etc)?

Walt, what do you think would happen if no changes were made to the existing contract and Lackey wasn't traded? Do you think he would retire?
   80. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: June 12, 2014 at 11:30 PM (#4724642)
If anything, Lackey's trade value is at a maximum. With the Sox now 4.5 back of the WC with 9 teams to pass -- tied with the Astros for crying out loud -- they should trade him at the deadline

Agree 100% assuming of course they can get more then just magic beans in return. Teams on the cusp may be willing to part with someone interesting in exchange for 2 years of Lackey at a decent cost.
   81. bobm Posted: June 13, 2014 at 12:08 AM (#4724654)
No mention of Operation Shutdown yet?
   82. Walt Davis Posted: June 13, 2014 at 01:25 AM (#4724671)
Walt, what do you think would happen if no changes were made to the existing contract and Lackey wasn't traded? Do you think he would retire?

I don't have any particular feelings one way or the other but I suspect he'll sit out until an extension/trade and I would guess the Red Sox will eventually give in. We just saw Stephen Drew willing to sit out 2 months and possibly sacrifice $4 M just to avoid a QO at the end of this year. Morales was presumably willing to sit out 2 months rather than play for Nelson Cruz money or less. We have seen draft picks sit out an entire year or go back to college over a million or two.

But if the Red Sox don't budge and he's still on the sidelines at the AS break, I can believe he'll give in (with an agreement that the half-season fulfills his contract). But I don't see that making any sense from the Red Sox perspective. We all know the risks but there's no particularly good reason to think that Lackey won't still be an average starter or better in 2016 -- offer him 2/$16. Unless they are high on principle, I don't see a good reason for them to try to force Lackey to play for $500,000 next year.

Another option, probably very unlikely but this is a weird situation, will be some sort of face-saving payment by Lackey to the Red Sox, like he pays them $2M to get out of the contract. Kinda similar to how Andruw Jones got out of LA.

Anyway, the best you'll pin me down to is that I think there is very little chance that Lackey will be on the 25-man opening day roster with a 1/$500,000 contract.

Isn't a much closer analogy the club options which turn out to be bargains that are often at the end of extensions that pre-FA players sign (e.g. Lester this year, Adrian Gonzalez with the Padres, etc)?

I don't think so, for the same reasons folks have mentioned. A player on a "bad" extension is a guy who lost a bet but is making $14 M instead of $20 M -- that guy probably doesn't even feel "unlucky" he just acknowledges he traded risk for security. Lackey or a guy who's potentially missing out on a vesting option is (potentially) a difference between $0 and $18 M -- i.e. he feels like a chump.

Basically, Lackey's the guy who bought the 40-inch flat screen TV when it first came out and paid $3000 only to see them selling for $800 6 months later when the 48-inch came out and now realizes he was a fool. Lester is the guy who bought the 40-inch for $800 only to see the 48-inch at $800 6 months later and just curses his luck.

But I forgot my main point about the vesting options thing -- it seems to me that most of the time the teams have caved and either played the guy or vested the option anyway. That's why I think it's analogous. That basically both teams and players really view those vesting options more along the lines of "if I'm healthy enough to play, I get the money almost no matter how bad I stink in the last guaranteed year" ... or "holy crap, you suck so bad we're just gonna release three months early." Obviously the Lackey contract is different.

I doubt we'll quite see its like again. More common I'd guess will be ones like Sabathia -- his 2017 option vests if he doesn't injure his shoulder (min 45 days or end of season on DL) or get moved to the pen due to a shoulder injury. It's tied to a specific injury, it affects only the last year. Other fairly common vesting options are X number of PA/IP in the last year or Y number of PA/IP over the last two years combined -- still playing time based but providing the player the out that they basically only need to be healthy for a bit more than half of the last two years.

It would have been interesting to be in the negotiations on the Lackey contract or have inside access to his meetings with his agent. It seemed a stupid thing to agree to ... just how much extra money did they think they were getting in exchange for this?

Was it say the difference between 5/$80 and 4/$64? If so, Lackey probably would have actually been better off taking 4/$64 in hindsight. He'd have hit the FA market this offseason with a very good, healthy year under his belt. Kazmir got 2/$22 after missing 2 years and then just 158 IP of 93 ERA+. Colon got 2/$20 and is much older. Hudson is older and got 2/$23, injured in July. Burnett got 1/$16, Arroyo got 2/$23.5 -- more durable but less effective and older. I wonder if that's playing into it as well -- not only is he under contract for next year for 1/$500 but he didn't really benefit from the 5th year.
   83. Nasty Nate Posted: June 13, 2014 at 08:14 AM (#4724704)
We just saw Stephen Drew willing to sit out 2 months and possibly sacrifice $4 M just to avoid a QO at the end of this year. Morales was presumably willing to sit out 2 months rather than play for Nelson Cruz money or less. We have seen draft picks sit out an entire year or go back to college over a million or two.

But those guys weren't sitting out from already-existing contracts. Has there been a guy in the modern era who has sat out (or threatened to) from an existing contract which he had signed as a free agent? Have there been any who have done so but haven't been great bargains up until that point in the contract?
Isn't a much closer analogy the club options which turn out to be bargains that are often at the end of extensions that pre-FA players sign (e.g. Lester this year, Adrian Gonzalez with the Padres, etc)?

I don't think so, for the same reasons folks have mentioned. A player on a "bad" extension is a guy who lost a bet but is making $14 M instead of $20 M -- that guy probably doesn't even feel "unlucky" he just acknowledges he traded risk for security. Lackey or a guy who's potentially missing out on a vesting option is (potentially) a difference between $0 and $18 M -- i.e. he feels like a chump.
Basically, Lackey's the guy who bought the 40-inch flat screen TV when it first came out and paid $3000 only to see them selling for $800 6 months later when the 48-inch came out and now realizes he was a fool. Lester is the guy who bought the 40-inch for $800 only to see the 48-inch at $800 6 months later and just curses his luck.

But your analogy doesn't include that Lackey was paid the $15m for not pitching in 2012. That's relevant, because that's the whole reason the extra year sprung into existence in the first place. Isn't Lackey just a guy who was paid far in advance for a job he would do later? Unless he has amnesia about the checks he received in 2012, I don't think we can assume he feels foolish at all. Yes, we can assume that he will use any leverage the threat of retirement gives him, but it is only speculation that any "face-saving" will be necessary from his perspective. As far as team options, I was thinking about things like Pujols' last year with the Cardinals, which was a team option for $16m. Didn't that project at the time to under-pay Pujols by close to the same amount as Lackey's 2015?
   84. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 13, 2014 at 08:58 AM (#4724720)
If Lackey retires instead of playing, then the Red Sox should go sign Max Scherzer instead.

So, instead of giving Lackey 1/7 or 2/20, you want to go give Scherzer 8/200 instead?

Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.
   85. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4724723)
But your analogy doesn't include that Lackey was paid the $15m for not pitching in 2012. That's relevant, because that's the whole reason the extra year sprung into existence in the first place. Isn't Lackey just a guy who was paid far in advance for a job he would do later? Unless he has amnesia about the checks he received in 2012, I don't think we can assume he feels foolish at all.

That is not relevant, at all. Teams and players negotiate based on expected future performance.

All that is relevant is 1) how much do the Red Sox and other teams value Lackey's performance in 2015 and onward, and 2) how much does Lackey prefer staying home to playing under what he likely views as an insulting contract.

If it is worth $5M to Lackey to spend a year with his girlfriend and daughter, or playing golf, or hunting (whatever he likes to do) vs. having to pitch for $500K, then he won't pitch unless he makes >$5M.

The analysis would be exactly the same if the Red Sox had paid him $40M for a shitty season. That money and performance is gone, done, over. The only impact is how that performance affects Lackey's projected value.
   86. Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Griffin (Vlad) Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:07 AM (#4724724)
Has there been a guy in the modern era who has sat out (or threatened to) from an existing contract which he had signed as a free agent?


Raul Mondesi more or less did that with the Pirates in 2004. After a few weeks, they just released him because he wasn't all that good anymore, and wasn't nearly worth the hassle. He signed with the Angels a little over a week later, sucked for the rest of the year, and then put up one final (lousy) season with the Braves in 2005.
   87. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:13 AM (#4724727)
Raul Mondesi more or less did that with the Pirates in 2004. After a few weeks, they just released him because he wasn't all that good anymore, and wasn't nearly worth the hassle. He signed with the Angels a little over a week later, sucked for the rest of the year, and then put up one final (lousy) season with the Braves in 2005.

Operation shutdown. Bell refused to compete for a job, left Spring Training, and spent the year on his yacht (literally) while cashing $4.5M in the Pirates checks.
   88. pikepredator Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:32 AM (#4724746)
how much does Lackey prefer staying home to playing under what he likely views as an insulting contract.


That's the part where there is disagreement, right? How do we know he "likely" views it as insulting that he collected $12M for doing nothing and is now making good on his part of the original agreement? Maybe he thinks it's honorable to, you know, honor the agreement where the Red Sox said "hey we're nervous that you're arm is going to fall apart because the MRI looks like fresh pasta, here's our offer . . .".

I think Snapper is probably right because athletes seem to be greedy. I wish he wasn't right because I want integrity to have a place in this world. I see Lackey bailing on the $500K as being the same thing as someone welching on a bet.
   89. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:36 AM (#4724750)
I think Snapper is probably right because athletes seem to be greedy. I wish he wasn't right because I want integrity to have a place in this world. I see Lackey bailing on the $500K as being the same thing as someone welching on a bet.


Just out of curiosity, how would you feel if Lackey simply retired, rather than pitch next year?

I understand Nate's (and your) position about what should happen, I just don't think it has any chance of occurring exactly as written (Lackey pitches for $500K). And, honestly, the Sox had to have known that. Which is why I think the Sox will correctly view the option as nothing more than leverage, not as something to hold absolutely firm on.

   90. Nasty Nate Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:43 AM (#4724759)

That is not relevant, at all. Teams and players negotiate based on expected future performance.

All that is relevant is 1) how much do the Red Sox and other teams value Lackey's performance in 2015 and onward, and 2) how much does Lackey prefer staying home to playing under what he likely views as an insulting contract.


You are completely making up how Lackey views his contract, and that he has amnesia about earlier parts of it. If the clause had stipulated that he got the min for 2012 and $15m for 2015, it would have been a worse contract for him, but you are implying that it would have been more respectful to him and that he is so stupid that he can't recognize that it would be worse.
If it is worth $5M to Lackey to spend a year with his girlfriend and daughter, or playing golf, or hunting (whatever he likes to do) vs. having to pitch for $500K, then he won't pitch unless he makes >$5M.

It's not spending a year golfing, it's spending the rest of his life doing it.
The analysis would be exactly the same if the Red Sox had paid him $40M for a shitty season.

In terms of the leverage for him to threaten retirement, you are absolutely correct. But in terms of supposed disrespect, embarrassment, or the burden on the Sox to "make him happy," the rest of the contract is definitely relevant. Again, front-loading a contract is better for the player, yet you are assuming that they view it as worse.
   91. Nasty Nate Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:49 AM (#4724764)

I understand Nate's (and your) position about what should happen,


It's not even what I think necessarily should happen. I just think that this is such a unique situation that it is presumptuous and premature to declare the default outcome to be impossible. The default outcome of any MLB contract is for it to play out as it exists, and the view that this one might do that is supposedly some extreme viewpoint?

(And by the way, I disagree with #88, I don't see anything dishonorable about him retiring after this year - I just don't think he will.)
   92. pikepredator Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:50 AM (#4724767)
SoSH: If Lackey is fine with walking away from the game forever, the sox are better off without him anyway. I only want the Lackey that gives a damn pitching.

If he still enjoys baseball he should suck it up and pitch for the $500K. It would show he has both class and more in the tank. Then he will get some kind of 2/20 contract to finish off his career.

But the idea of him pulling shenanigans to both avoid honoring this contract AND continue pitching is what I find particularly pathetic. Nobody forced him to sign that contract - he could have taken less money/years instead of more money/years + the $500K injury clause. He chose to make this gamble, the red sox called his bet, and now he has to pay up.
   93. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: June 13, 2014 at 09:56 AM (#4724769)
The default outcome of any MLB contract is for it to play out as it exists, and the view that this one might do that is supposedly some extreme viewpoint?


It's an even more extreme situation.

But we're really only debating where among the odds of unlikeliness this is. We put it at zero, you put it at somewhere north of zero, but not much.

I don't think Lackey will retire. My expectation is a compromise is reached between now and the start of the 2015 season. But if the Sox hold firm, I think Lackey decides to stay home at least through the first few months (just as we saw Drew do, albeit for different reasons), and wait until they come calling with a deal more favorable. At the absolute worst, he waits half a season, then pulls a Jimmy Chitwood and decides it's time to start playing ball.


SoSH: If Lackey is fine with walking away from the game forever, the sox are better off without him anyway. I only want the Lackey that gives a damn pitching.


Well, it may be satisfying to think this way, but I think the Sox would be foolish to operate in this fashion. This contract gives the Sox great leverage over Lackey, but only if Lackey is in a big league uniform. That's how the Sox should be viewing it.

   94. Nasty Nate Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:03 AM (#4724774)
But we're really only debating where among the odds of unlikeliness this is. We put it at zero, you put it at somewhere north of zero, but not much.


I guess I'd put it at a 25-35% chance.
   95. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:06 AM (#4724777)

But the idea of him pulling shenanigans to both avoid honoring this contract AND continue pitching is what I find particularly pathetic. Nobody forced him to sign that contract - he could have taken less money/years instead of more money/years + the $500K injury clause. He chose to make this gamble, the red sox called his bet, and now he has to pay up.


I agree with this and I think SoSH does too. I will add that I don't think Lackey is going to willingly tank the season but I think you run the risk of a guy who is distracted and maybe not as motivated as he otherwise needs to be. From the Sox perspective some kind of 2/16 deal makes a ton of sense.

The counterargument is that playing for the minimum will be hypermotivated. The catch on that is we have seen any number of players who have tried to do too much that it was counterproductive.
   96. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:13 AM (#4724783)
It's not spending a year golfing, it's spending the rest of his life doing it.

No, it's spending half a year, or less. Once the Red Sox see he's serious, they'd be absolutely foolish not to agree to some middle ground, or trade him to a team that will.

I think Snapper is probably right because athletes seem to be greedy. I wish he wasn't right because I want integrity to have a place in this world. I see Lackey bailing on the $500K as being the same thing as someone welching on a bet.

He has the absolute right, as any player does, to retire during a contract. If he'd rather retire than play for $500K, there's nothing dishonorable about that.
   97. pikepredator Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:15 AM (#4724784)
This contract gives the Sox great leverage over Lackey, but only if Lackey is in a big league uniform.


Having Lackey in a uniform has zero value unless he is motivated - in his late-30's, when all pitchers decline - to keep himself in great shape. And staying in shape has already been a problem with him. Do you think it's possible he'll agree to 2/20 (or whatever), and then do just enough to be Fat 5.00 ERA Lackey (again)? He is old enough that I don't think it's worth the gamble.

How do we know how much money he'll need to actually *try*?
   98. Nasty Nate Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4724790)
No, it's spending half a year, or less. Once the Red Sox see he's serious, they'd be absolutely foolish not to agree to some middle ground, or trade him to a team that will.


Then why did you write a full year as if he could sit out and then become a free agent? You're being uncharacteristically incoherent about this; bringing in the irrelevant NFL holdouts, armchair psychoanalyzing Lackey, pretending that no one remembers the rest of his contract, etc. If you were someone else, I would suggest that you were concern-trolling. The Sox are in 4th place with a losing record! There are easier ways to make fun of them than inventing future player/club disputes.
   99. pikepredator Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:20 AM (#4724791)
He has the absolute right, as any player does, to retire during a contract. If he'd rather retire than play for $500K, there's nothing dishonorable about that.


understood - it's the idea of "I'll keep pitching, but not for the contract I agreed to" that I find distasteful.
   100. bunyon Posted: June 13, 2014 at 10:33 AM (#4724803)
It looks like people think he could retire, sit out 2015, then comeback and sign with another team. Is that true? (I see it debated but not settled above). My understanding is that if he retires mid-contract, the Sox retain his rights.

I also don't think he'd consciously tank a season. But I can see an aging pitcher skipping a workout, or quitting a few early, due to lack of motivation. It wouldn't have to be a conscious thing - just a guy not motivated to do his best. Happens all the time in every profession.

So, put me with the guys who think the Sox should trade him now. He's actually a pretty valuable mid-season pitcher and the Sox aren't going anywhere.
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