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Saturday, February 09, 2019

Yordano Ventura’s guaranteed contract still not paid two years after death; estate is broke

Two years after Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura died in a single-car crash in his native Dominican Republic, the $20.25 million remaining on his contract has not been paid.

And his estate is broke.

Ventura’s 5-year-old daughter is listed as the sole heir of his estate, according to court documents. As the executor of the estate, her mother has hired attorneys to pursue the money left on the contract. The matter is currently being negotiated between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association, a grievance process that is kept confidential, multiple sources told The Star.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 09, 2019 at 06:18 AM | 23 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: yordano ventura

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   1. Mike Webber Posted: February 09, 2019 at 09:57 AM (#5813911)
Possibly complicating the case is a lack of precedent. It’s believed Ventura was the first MLB player with a multi-year guaranteed contract to have died before the deal expired.


Can this be true?
   2. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:02 AM (#5813913)
This is not a good look for the Royals.
   3. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:05 AM (#5813914)
Can this be true?


Technically no, as Darryl Kile died in mid-season in the final year of his 5 year contract.
   4. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:18 AM (#5813919)
Going through wiki's list of ballplayers who died while active, the only other possibility is Corey Lidle, who signed as a free agent with the Phillies following the 2004 season, and died immediately after the 2006 season. Can't find any information on his FA contract, but if it was for only 2 years, then he's not one.
   5. Joyful Calculus Instructor Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:31 AM (#5813921)
My first thought was Jose Ferandez, but the Marlins were going year to year with him. I’m pretty surprised it has never happened before.
   6. Benji Gil Gamesh VII - The Opt-Out Awakens Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:44 AM (#5813924)
I’m pretty surprised it has never happened before.
Me too. Yet even more surprised that an 8-figure contract isn't pretty cut and dried with respect to what happens in case of death? Not that anything can't be argued but still.
   7. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 09, 2019 at 10:50 AM (#5813926)
I remember a discussion about Kile after he passed away, as to whether he would get the remainder of his contract. I don't recall the details, but I assumed he did. Whether the Cardinals were contractually obligated to pay, or they did so voluntarily, or if his estate ever got paid I cannot say
   8. Misirlou doesn't live in the restaurant Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:04 AM (#5813928)
OK, I finally read TFA. Some really weird circumstances surrounding his marriage and death that I did not know about. Whatever good news there is, is that his daughter has received $12.6 million in life insurance, so even if she doesn't get any money from the Royals, she's well set financially.
   9. greenback slays lewks Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:10 AM (#5813929)
I remember a discussion about Kile after he passed away, as to whether he would get the remainder of his contract. I don't recall the details, but I assumed he did. Whether the Cardinals were contractually obligated to pay, or they did so voluntarily, or if his estate ever got paid I cannot say

The Cardinals certainly said they would honor their remaining obligations to Kile by paying his widow. She never made a stink, so I assume they did something there.

ETA: And, yes, TFA is worth reading to learn all of the weirdness around this guy's life.
   10. bobm Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:13 AM (#5813930)
   11. Rally Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5813932)
Lyman Bostock signed a 5 year deal with the Angels, and was murdered before his first season was complete.
   12. bobm Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:19 AM (#5813933)
2017 - Ken Rosenthal: $20M owed to Yordano Ventura likely hinges on his toxicology report

However, guaranteed contracts include exceptions that relate to player conduct, and Ventura’s deal includes a provision that will nullify payment for failure to perform due to injury or death resulting from driving a motorized vehicle while intoxicated, sources said.

Royals general manager Dayton Moore said on Sunday that the toxicology results will not be known for three weeks, but that authorities in the Dominican Republic had told him that no alcohol was found at the scene. [...]

The financial legacy of Ventura is different than that of late Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez, who died in a boating accident last September and — unlike Ventura — was unsigned beyond 2016.

A toxicology report determined that Fernandez was legally drunk and had cocaine in his system at the time of the crash. But it is not clear that Fernandez was driving the boat, and his estate is still in line to receive a $1.05 million accidental-death payment and $450,000 in life insurance through a player’s standard benefits package, sources said.

Ventura’s estate could be eligible for the same payouts. He was the driver of his vehicle, according to reports, but it is not known whether the results of his toxicology report would affect the amount his estate received.


ETA:

FTFA:

The toxicology report from Ventura’s death was given only to his family and attorneys, authorities in the Dominican Republic told The Star. The results have never been made public.
   13. Rally Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:29 AM (#5813937)
Thurman Munson likely another. His SABR bio says he signed a 5 year deal before the 1977 season. So he would have had 2 years left when his plane crashed in 1979.
   14. DanG Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:45 AM (#5813939)
I didn't know that Omenica Greg was a Wikipedia contributor:

Hartog Hamburger (Amsterdam, March 20, 1887 - Amsterdam, October 10, 1924) was a Dutch diamond polisher and baseball player.

Hamburger played as an infielder for OVVO in Amsterdam, which belonged to the highest division of Dutch baseball, the Hoofdklasse. During a game on October 9, 1924 he was hit on the head by a line drive. He became dizzy but seemed to recover. However, the next day he died at his home as a result of the impact.[1] He is thought to be the only European baseball player who died as the result of playing a baseball game. Hamburger's son, psychiatrist Max Hamburger, was a Jewish resistance fighter and Holocaust survivor.[2]
   15. wjones Posted: February 09, 2019 at 11:54 AM (#5813940)
Lyman Bostock signed a 5 year deal with the Angels, and was murdered before his first season was complete.

I thought of him immediately when I read the tease. And this was in the early years of free agency too.
   16. Zach Posted: February 09, 2019 at 12:38 PM (#5813946)
I was just about to post this article, mostly as an excuse to talk about Ventura.

He had a pretty turbulent life for someone who was famous for such a short time. He married a woman who was already married, which is never a good sign. But then again, Willie Mays had an unfortunate first marriage at about the same age.

It would have been nice to see him figure out the personal issues and get back to pitching. He pitched with that same sense of wearing his heart on his sleeve and caring too much. It would have been fun to see him figure everything out, because the talent was always there.
   17. Zach Posted: February 09, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5813949)
To tie it back to the article, I wonder if settling Ventura's affairs might end up being a complicated court case. There's the was-she-ever-really-his-wife to consider, plus some outstanding loans, plus the toxicology issue. And he doesn't seem like the type of personality that does careful estate planning in his early 20s.
   18. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: February 09, 2019 at 01:12 PM (#5813953)
During a game on October 9, 1924 he was hit on the head by a line drive. He became dizzy but seemed to recover. However, the next day he died at his home as a result of the impact.


Little known fact is that the hamburger sandwich, previously known as "Brooklyn Meat Pies", was renamed in his honor.
   19. depletion Posted: February 09, 2019 at 01:58 PM (#5813959)
No disrespect intended, given his untimely death, but Hartog Hamburger is an inner-circle great baseball name.
   20. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: February 09, 2019 at 02:06 PM (#5813964)
I would have assumed that if you died, you don't get paid. I'm pretty sure that's standard for employment contracts.
   21. Dog on the sidewalk has an ugly bracelet Posted: February 09, 2019 at 03:55 PM (#5813980)
That was my first thought too. But if you can't play as a result of a non-lethal off-field injury, you still get paid. So why should a lethal injury be different?
   22. bbmck Posted: February 09, 2019 at 04:29 PM (#5813983)
Generally contracts aren't void on death, the estate and the living party will often choose to mutually terminate the contract, possibly with a settlement. Generally contracts are void for non-performance but Baseball contracts are not, they can be voided because you tear your ACL playing Basketball (Aaron Boone) or apparently if you drive while under the influence (Ventura) but Troy Tulowitzki's contract can't be voided because he's doing a terrible job at playing MLB SS while a terrible gardener would have his contract voided for the same reason.

In the case of the gardener dying the living party will generally offer a settlement to terminate the contract or simply pay the remainder of the year because of compassion. If the living party attempts to terminate the contract without payment someone representing the estate could perform the duties and the contract would have to be honored unless it contained language that specified it was non-transferable. In MLB someone representing the estate can't credibly perform the duties (well some Free Agent pitchers could but they can also sign their own contract) but MLB doesn't void for non-performance so legally someone showing up on his behalf without pitching ability would fulfill the contract.

If a standard MLB contract includes a death clause it should be fairly easy to obtain for the Kansas City Star, they would just contact the Royals and have a PDF of the standard contract language emailed or if the Royals refused would find one current or former player willing to send them a picture of or show them the relevant portion of the contract.

My best guess is with the low mortality rate and the lack of difference from a risk analysis perspective between Tim Lincecum and Yordano Ventura in 2019 that there isn't a provision in a $23mil contract to void in the event of death. The largest contracts you might consider the clause but splitting hairs so that a player in a vegetative state being kept alive by machines after a car accident when he wasn't under the influence collecting all $23mil and voiding the contract on death simply doesn't offer meaningful financial relief to MLB collectively and creates terrible public perception if the Royals are trying to find a clause like mandatory attendance at spring training and hoping a quadriplegic doesn't show up and they save $9.75mil in 2019.
   23. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: February 09, 2019 at 05:00 PM (#5813988)
The standard uniform player contract includes a life insurance policy to cover the team in case of death. As Rosenthal mentions in his article, those policies can be voided for certain risky behaviors such as drunk driving. I would guess that is what is holding this up - they have to come to a settlement for less than the full policy amount.

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