In the last week, both Major League Baseball and the NBA agreed to new collective bargaining agreements. Seeing how MLB managed to negotiate their new CBA without even a tinge of acrimony while the NBA antagonized their entire fan base and forfeited one-fifth of their, I think we can all agree that MLB did a much better job. However, there is one area where the NBA did pretty well, their amnesty clause.
The NBA’s amnesty clause is pretty simple. Each team gets one chance to get out from under a contract of their choosing. The player still gets his money, but his most of his contract no longer counts against the salary cap. In other words, it is a get out of stupidity free card. What I want to know is why can’t we get some of those for MLB? Sure, there is no salary cap, but there isn’t a team out there that wouldn’t want to wipe a contract of their books. In fact, this needs to happen, even if it is only in our imagination.
Let’s play a game, shall we? Who would each MLB contract team cut loose? Let’s say that each team gets to pick one contract that they can get out from under for free. The player still gets his money through some mysterious means (who really cares, this is just pretend), but the money doesn’t come from the teams, that is the important part. Sound good? Great. On you mark… get set… cut some dead weight!
San Francisco Giants – First and foremost, we need a patron saint of the amnesty clause to name it after. Who better than Barry Zito? He has long been the poster boy for awful contracts, so why not make it official? Surely the Giants would love to make the $37 million he is still owed disappear.
San Diego Padres – The Friars have a tiny payroll, but even they would love to save some money. They are working hard to find someone to take Orlando Hudson off their hands via trade, but they aren’t having much luck. The only question is would we have to start calling him the Amnesty-Dog instead.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Personally, I don’t think Frank McCourt should be allowed to use the amnesty clause because he would surely find a way to use it to pocket some cash for himself. What the Dodgers would love to do though is to make their deferred payments to Manny Ramirez of $16+ million go away. What’s really sad is that still leaves them with almost $10 million in dead money that they owe to Andruw Jones. Yeah, I can’t imagine why Selig is dying to get rid of McCourt.
Colorado Rockies – The Rockies don’t actually have much in the way of bad contracts. The worst they have is Todd Helton, but he is an institution, so they could never let him go so unceremoniously. The two options then are for the Rox to either cut their losses on the $10+ million they owe Jorge De La Rosa, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, which is probably unlikely since Colorado can’t exactly afford to give away young pitching, or to just dump Jason Hammel and the $4.75 million he is owed in 2012.
Arizona Diamondbacks – The D’Backs in pretty good shape, financially. They might actually be one of the few teams that could decline to use the amnesty clause, that is unless they decide they don’t want to put up with Stephen Drew’s combination of fragiility and inconsistent performance.
St. Louis Cardinals – There is no way in the world Kyle Lohse is worth over $12 million in 2012, but he might survive the cut here since he was pretty good in 2011. You know who wasn’t? Jake Westbrook who is scheduled to make $8.5 million. So long, Jake.
Pittsburgh Pirates – The Pirates have few guys under contract in 2012, so they don’t have anyone worth using the clause on (maybe Kevin Correia for $4 million), though the bet here is that they will vastly overpay someone very mediocre in free agency and immediately regret that decision.
Milwaukee Brewers – Nothing personal, but Randy Wolf is toast in Milwaukee. He was actually pretty good for the Brew Crew last year, but if they could lop off the $9.5 million he is owed in this coming season and the $1.5 buyout for his 2013 option, then the Brewers probably could afford to bring Prince Fielder back. Too bad this is just pretend.
Houston Astros – Did you know Carlos Lee is going to make $19 million in 2012? Yeah, he wouldn’t if there were an amnesty clause.
Cincinnati Reds – The amnesty clause would be a blessing in disguise for Bronson Arroyo as he would definitely get cut by the Reds, but would also get paid $23.5 million over the next two years to do nothing, freeing him up to really focus on his music career. Everybody’s a winner!
Chicago Cubs – Carlos Zambrano might be a clubhouse cancer, but he will escape an amnesty fate solely because Alfonso Soriano makes just as much as Big Z does in 2012, only Soriano also makes that amount in 2013 and 2014. Yikes.
Washington Nationals – I don’t know if they would be willing to take the PR hit associated with it, but you know the Nats wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to amnesty Jayson Werth and recoup the $115 million they owe him through 2017.
Philadelphia Phillies – A cowardly GM would use the amnesty clause on Joe Blanton. A GM with real huevos would to get rid of the $125 million albatross that is the overweight guy who can’t hit lefties and is currently out with a blown out Achilles. If his name weren’t Ryan Howard, it would be an easy call, but his name recognition might convince the Phillies to keep him, which would be a totally incorrect decision.
New York Mets – This is a tough one. Would it be Johan Santana, who is coming off major arm problems and still owed $55 million, or Jason Bay, who stinks and is still owed $39.25 million? Or would the Wilpons go off the board and amnesty the lawsuit payments they have hanging over their heads? My money is on Jason Bay, but I could really go the other two routes too.
Miami Marlins – They should amnesty Ricky Nolasco, but I’m guessing they will just make a big public spectacle of who they are considering using the clause on but then ultimately make a lowball offer and amnesty nobody. That’s just what the Marlins do.
Atlanta Braves – This would have been so much easier if they hadn’t already traded Derek Lowe. They still agreed to pay $10 million of Lowe’s salary in that deal, so he remains a possibility, but
Texas Rangers – Another team with almost no bad contracts. They could probably afford to keep everyone, but seeing how they thought so little of Koji Uehara that they didn’t even include him on their World Series roster, they probably wouldn’t mind ridding themselves of his $4 million contract.
Seattle Mariners – The only thing faster than Chone Figgins on the basepaths is how fast the Mariners would move to amnesty him if they had the choice.
Oakland Athletics – $5 million for Brian Fuentes seems like a bit much, but given Billy Beane’s knack for creativity, I’m guessing he would find a way to trade for someone with a terrible contract along with some quality prospects and then amnesty that bad contract, thus allowing the other team to amnesty someone else.
Los Angeles Angels – Would Vernon Wells actually even need to be informed that he’d get amnestied or would he just realize it and start packing up his house the second the CBA got signed?
Minnesota Twins – It would be immensely unpopular, but if they don’t think Joe Mauer or Justin Morneau can’t get healthy again, they’d have to amnesty one of them, right?
Kansas City Royals – They should amnesty Jeff Francouer, but that would mean Dayton Moore would have to get over his unhealthy mancrush on Frenchy. No, the Royals would probably decline to amnesty anyone.
Detroit Tigers – They already DFA’s Brandon Inge last season, but they still owe him $6 million, making him the perfect amnesty candidate.
Cleveland Indians – Maybe Fausto Carmona can bounce back, maybe he can’t. The Indians just don’t have the kind of payroll flexibility to take a $7 million gamble on him.
Chicago White Sox – Adam Dunn would so be done. See what I did there? I’m hilarious.
Toronto Blue Jays – Mark Teahen makes $5.5 million? Ugh.
Tampa Bay Rays – Man, no wonder the Rays are able to remain competitive. They don’t have a single contract that is even worth thinking about using the amnesty clause on.
New York Yankees – The Yankees aren’t exactly overflowing with starting pitching right now, but even they and their deep pockets have to be salivating at the idea of ridding themselves of A.J. Burnett and his $33 million.
Boston Red Sox – If John Lackey can divorce his cancer-stricken wife, I’m sure the Red Sox would have little remorse when they used the amnesty clause on him while he recovers from Tommy John surgery. Meanwhile, Carl Crawford breathes a sign of relief.
Baltimore Orioles – A bad back, concussion problems and $20 million makes Brian Roberts one of the easiest amnesty candidates out there.