Two years ago, Kansas City Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura was killed in a car crash in his native Dominican Republic. At that time, Ventura had three years left on a guaranteed contract totaling $20.25 million.
According to the Kansas City Star, that hasn’t been paid after two years and Ventura’s estate has claimed in court to be insolvent.
It seems like every time someone dies, it’s a heartless fight over who gets what. Sometimes it’s between family, other times (like this) it’s between a family and an employer. Regardless of the situation, things usually get ugly and the more at stake, the uglier it gets.
That seems to be the case here between Ventura’s estate and the Royals/MLB. Both sides declined comment to the Star about the process but they found that the mother of Ventura’s child is executor of Ventura’s estate and had hired attorneys to get the money owed to them by the Royals. The Royals apparently haven’t paid and now the estate is broke.
The sole heir of the estate, Ventura’s five-year old daughter has a $12.6 million life insurance payout but it’s in a protected trust that’s not part of the estate. The estate, and thus the contract money would be going for that time in between now and when she’s older and can access the trust.
The Royals insist that they have been in constant contact with Ventura’s mother, with GM Dayton Moore noting calling her on the second anniversary of Ventura’s death a couple weeks ago.
The legalities that could be holding up payment may be valid but without knowing for sure, that would only be speculation. According to court records revealed by the Star, Ventura used his money to buy cars for family, pay off debts for friends and save his grandfather’s business, putting him in debt, and was to pay $4,000/month in child support. What we do know is that when a family is expecting a regular income (particularly a high one) and it stops suddenly due to an unexpected death to the person making that income, that brings out a lot of issues. That’s what life insurance is usually for but that’s in the trust because Ventura smartly felt it was in his daughter’s best interest to not have access to it until she’s older and it was assumed the Royals would pay the $20 million left on the contract. On the surface, the Royals and MLB aren’t going to get a lot of support for withholding the rest of Ventura’s money, even if they may actually be in the right.