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Report: Cubs can void a player's contract for ... almost anything

By Dayn Perry | Baseball Writer

Here's Cubs prez Theo Epstein with the hint of actuarial concerns in the background. (USATSI)
Here's Cubs prez Theo Epstein with the hint of actuarial concerns in the background. (USATSI)

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Yahoo!'s Jeff Passan has an excellent piece on the slow push of some MLB teams to expand the grounds for which they can convert a player's guaranteed contract into a non-guaranteed agreement. The entire thing is illuminating and worth your while.

One of the most intriguing parts is this bit of lanuguage that is reportedly a part of the standard contract issued by the Cubs. So take a deep breath and regard the sprawling litany of things Cubs players cannot do:

"(A)uto racing, motorcycling, piloting, co-piloting, learning to operate, or serving as a crew member of, an aircraft, being a passenger in a single engine airplane or private plane, hot air ballooning, parachuting, skydiving, hang gliding, bungee jumping, horseback riding, horse racing, harness racing, fencing, boxing, wrestling, karate, judo, jujitsu, any other form of martial arts activity, use of an All Terrain Vehicle (‘ATV'), skiing (water or snow), snowmobiling, bobsledding, luging, ice hockey, ice boating, field hockey, squash, spelunking, basketball, football, softball, white water canoeing or rafting, kayaking, jai-alai, lacrosse, soccer, tennis, rodeo, bicycle racing, motor boat racing, polo, rugby, rodeo, handball, volleyball, in-line or other roller skating, surfing, hunting, paddleball, racquetball, archery, wood chopping, mountain climbing, boating, any weightlifting not prescribed by or approved in advance by Club (said approval not to be unreasonably withheld), participation in the ‘Superteams' or ‘Superstars' activities (or any like activity) or other made-for-television or made-for-motion picture athletic competitions, or any other sport, activity, or negligent act involving a reasonably foreseeable substantial risk of personal injury or death."

Chop wood or serve as a flight attendant at your own financial peril, Cubs players! Tacitly permitted: Walking slowly on a perfectly flat, dry surface, so long as the walker is wearing a padded novelty sumo-wrestling suit.

On the broader topic, I get that rank-and-file fans don't typically cotton to guaranteed contracts, but I like them in that they force some accountability onto the teams for the decisions they make. It's good that the Yankees are on the hook for the ridiculous second contract they gave A-Rod because those kinds of choices should carry consequences. Yes, there's a sensible middle ground for what constitutes cause to terminate a guaranteed deal, but I would never want MLB to operate under an NFL-style system, in which the players assume almost all the risk. Teams should be accountable for their poor decisions just as players are, and the MLB contract system best achieves that balance.

With all that said, I would kind of like to bear witness to an arbitration hearing that was the result of, say, Anthony Rizzo's decision to ride bulls on a luge course.

 
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