Melvin and single-paying

DMZ · November 5, 2004 at 5:06 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

I talked to someone in baseball and it turns out I’m wrong. There’s a thing attached to staff contracts as standard procedure called the Major League Offset Policy, and it says that if you’re fired from your job and get another job within baseball, the team that fired you only has to pay the difference, if any, between the salaries. If you take a lower job, like a coaching gig, same deal.

Further, there’s a mechanism to prevent abuse — if you’re the Yankees GM and you’re fired, the M’s can’t hire you for $1 because the Yankees are paying you $500,000/year. Staff contracts get approved by the Commish and a team could complain about a contract even then.

If you want to sit at home and play Halo 2, you get paid. If you take a job as a cook, like Jason, the team still pays you the full amount. Take a job within baseball, though — ding!

I hope this clears that up. Now, we don’t know for sure whether or not that was in Melvin’s deal, but knowing that this is pretty much standard for every staff contract, I have to believe it was.

It turns out that Bavasi may indeed have had an ulterior motive in pushing Melvin to Arizona, though I really don’t believe he made the recommendation he did because he thought he’d save some money. Baseball’s a small sport, and it’s not worth poisoning the wells, so to speak. Not that some GMs don’t try.


20 Responses to “Melvin and single-paying”

  1. patnmic on November 5th, 2004 5:19 pm

    Thank goodness now the Mariners have money to overpay Dan Wilson!

  2. jackson argo on November 5th, 2004 5:33 pm

    Interestingly I just saw Dan Wilson rubber necking a very strange car crash near his home. (two cars hit a phone poll and ended up on what was left of the control box for the street lights).
    ok so that had nothing to do with this post. but…

  3. Aaron on November 5th, 2004 5:35 pm

    I doubt this means any extra player money either way. In every discussion about team-building, the player salaries have always been kept seperate from staff salaries and other costs. It’s a nice little early x-mas gift to the owners, but it probably means nothing to the 2005 team.

  4. eponymous coward on November 5th, 2004 5:40 pm

    From what I can tell, Bavasi, whatever his faults might be, is generally a decent, stand-up guy who’s loyal and doesn’t slag people in public- so that is probably what’s behind the recommendation, wanting to help someone whose firing was more a PR necessity than due to fault on his part.

  5. tede on November 5th, 2004 5:44 pm

    There’s one thing more important than whether Howard Lincoln gets to hide another $500k under his imaginary salary cap. And that is what’s the status of Backman’s contract now that he’s fired? Does he get paid, or do they claim fraud? I can think of some creditors and Oregon tax collectors who could use some of that money.

  6. Adam S on November 5th, 2004 5:52 pm

    That only makes sense that Melvin doesn’t get paid twice. I understand the idea that he signed a contract he should get paid (and he does if he sits home or broadcasts). But it seems silly to fire Melvin, have to pay him, AND let him work for your competition. If the Mariners had to pay him, wouldn’t they keep him as a scout or a AA 3rd base coach?

    I think Bavasi was sincere about Melvin (though perhaps naive). He’s not a bad guy, he’s just not the guy the Mariners want managing. Personally, I don’t think he’ll do well in Arizona, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he were a decent major league manager 10 years from now, especially if he learned some baseball strategy.

  7. MacMariner on November 5th, 2004 6:17 pm

    I’m pretty sure I read somewhere that Backman’s contract remains unsigned. All he’s going to get for his troubles is the door hitting him on the ass on the way out. I think the D’Backs made the right choice here.

  8. W. on November 5th, 2004 6:41 pm

    Will Carroll shut down his site. Just hilarious. Who knew he was so thin-skinned?

  9. Steve on November 5th, 2004 7:19 pm

    The basic concept behind mitigation of damages is that if someone breaks a contract, the other party has an obligation to minimize the potentail damages. From one of my old stalart college texts, “Business Law”, by Smith and Roberson:

    Where a breach of contract occurs, the injured party is required to take such steps as may be reasonably calculated to lessen or mitigate the damages he may sustain. … If A contracts to work for B for one year for a weekly salary and after two months is wrongfully discharged by B, A must use reasonable efforts to mitigate his damages by seeking other employment. If he cannot obtain other employment of the same general character, he is entitled to recover full pay for the contract period that he is unemployed. He is not obliged to accept a radically different type of employment or to accept work at a distant place.

    The offset policy Derek mentions essentially clarifies mitigation obligations for a managerial contract. If the contract did not have any that specific mitigation clause, then the common law mitigation rules would apply. Mitigation of damages applies in pretty much all contractual situations. For example, let’s that I contract with a manufacturer to have them produce 10,000 trailer hitches for me that I plan to resell. After receiving 3000 trailer hitches I tell the manufacturer that I am terminating the contract. The manufacturer cannot then continue to produce the remaining 7000 hitches and request compensation. Nor can the manufacturer just let the equipment sit idle, making no effort to obtain other contracts to fill the capacity left idle, and then ask to be compensated for lost profits.

  10. Lou Able on November 5th, 2004 8:11 pm

    The evening sports show in Phoenix explains that Melvin will be paid $650,000 on a two year contract with two more option years. They also went on to say that the Mariners would be paying most of the first year salary. Melvin at his press conference stated he would make an attempt to get Price as his pitching coach.

  11. sj on November 5th, 2004 8:12 pm

    I think regardless what Bavasi’s motive was, Melvin gets the job and everyone is happy. Well, everyone besides Beckman I guess. BoMel did not work out for us, but he is not a bad guy. I liked him when he showed great respect to Lou and how he treated Edgar in the end, esp the pitching change one. I appreciated that my son did not have to see any unprofessional act by the players or manager even we had such a horrible season. For that, I wish him well.

  12. DMZ on November 5th, 2004 9:30 pm

    The evening sports show in Phoenix explains that Melvin will be paid $650,000 on a two year contract with two more option years. They also went on to say that the Mariners would be paying most of the first year salary.

    That second part — that they’d pay most of the first year — can’t be entirely correct. The Mariners aren’t paying *any* of Melvin’s contract with the Diamondbacks, no matter how you look at it. And if they structured it to back-load the deal, the Mariners would (rightly) complain that the Diamondbacks were sticking it to them, and the contract would be voided.

  13. Jon Wells on November 5th, 2004 10:52 pm

    I’d be very pissed if the M’s let Bryan Price go to join Bob Melvin’s staff with the Diamondbacks. It would have been a different story if Melvin had been hired in Arizona before the M’s hired a new manager or before our new manager had decided to retain Price. Until Price was guraranteed that he’d be the club’s pitching coach in ’05 it would only have been fair to let him go if Melvin wanted him.

    However, now that Hargrove and Price have decided they can work together and the decision has been made for Price to stay, the M’s need to tell Bo Mel and the D-Backs no (if they ask for permission to hire Price). It’s not like we owe this to Bob Melvin — Price didn’t come with Melvin from another job or anything like that; Price was a coach in the Seattle organization for many, many years before Melvin came along…

  14. Jim Thomsen on November 5th, 2004 11:48 pm

    I agree with Jon. Bryan Price has been asked back for ’05, and has accepted. If Price is now under contract for ’05, wouldn’t Melvin’s statement amount to actionable tampering … and draw the attention of the commissioner’s office? (That may well result in a hefty fine, and the next thing you know, Melvin will be fired four days later because of “financial problems.”)

  15. AceofSpades on November 6th, 2004 12:07 am

    And in other news, Howard Lincoln is now reporting that they are unable to land Beltre because of the 500,000 they owe to Bob Melvin. They’ll have to settle for Joe Randa instead.

  16. Colby on November 6th, 2004 12:21 am

    Having lived next door to Dan Wilson (really!) for two years, I feel as if I should speak up for him. He’s a really nice guy, but surely doesn’t deserve the money that the team is giving him.

    We needn’t blame him for being overpaid. We should blame anybody doing the work on the Mariners side (see Chuck Armstrong, Howard Lincoln, Pat Gillick, et al). Plus, Annie (his wife) is a really good person, and his kids are all great.

    From a future Red Sox fan (I just moved here this year….)

    Colby Cockrell
    Boston, MA

  17. Jon Wells on November 6th, 2004 12:32 am

    Despite Melvin’s comment at his press conference that he’d be seeking to hire Bryan Price as his pitching coach, it looks like Price is staying. This excerpt below from Saturday’s P-I. Note that the article also says that the M’s will only have to pay Melvin the difference between what they were going to pay him in ’05 and his Az salary in ’05.

    “The move does not put pitching coach Bryan Price back in play. When the Mariners hired manager Mike Hargrove, Price’s status was up in the air, and there was speculation Price might follow Melvin should Melvin get the Arizona job. Hargrove elected to retain Price, however, and the pitching coach said he’s not reconsidering. “I’m unbelievably happy for him,” Price said. “I think everybody knows how I feel about Bob, not only personally but professionally. He’s a thoughtful, outstanding person and a heck of a manager. “But I’m happy with where I am. My life is good. Bob’s going to do a great job in Arizona, and hopefully we’ll do a great job in Seattle as well.”

  18. Matt Williams on November 6th, 2004 2:22 am

    Colby it certainly isn’t fair to blame a player for being overpaid. Anyone who claims they would say “hey, I’m only worth a half million this year, keep the extra $1.5 million” is full of it.

    I’m not sure how I feel about BP staying. Like every M’s fan I felt he was a godsend when he came over and Lou stopped running up the pitch counts. But it doesn’t seem that he’s holding off pitching abuse anymore.

  19. The Ancient Mariner on November 6th, 2004 12:11 pm

    Well, maybe Price and Slaton together will be enough.

  20. Troy on November 8th, 2004 10:30 am

    Re: #8 – why is it hilarious that WCP got shut down? I don’t understand it, but I don’t think it has anything to do with being thin-skinned. And, as an ardent conservative, I’d like to say I miss the site, liberal bias or no. Hopefully he will get back up and running soon.