Over the weekend, Alex Rodriguez launched home run 660 over the left field wall at Fenway Park, thus tying Willie Mays on the all-time home run list. That home run also triggered a series of bonuses written into his contract that could earn him millions of dollars. Ever since A-Rod's Biogenesis suspension was lifted, there has been the sense that the Yankees had no intention of paying him the bonus money if he did reach those milestones. Now that he has tied Willie Mays, Yankees' GM Brian Cashman has finally spoken out about the situation, and it sounds like the Yankees will not be paying the bonus money.
According to Cashman, the Yankees have every intention of honoring the contract, but in his eyes, whether the Yankees market and then pay the home run bonus money is their decision. "We have the right, but not the obligation to do something." Speaking specifically about the numbers that triggered the bonuses, Cashman said, "It's not, 'You do this, you get that.'" Aside from the six million for tying Mays, the contract also includes the possibility for an additional six million for tying Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755), and Barry Bonds (762), plus six million for taking the overall lead. Now it sounds like whether A-Rod is paid for meeting those goals has always been a matter for the Yankees to decide. YES Network broadcast part of the clause from the contract which reads as follows:
It is the sole discretion of the New York Yankees to determine whether each of these milestones is commercially marketable as the home run chase... The Yankees have the right, but not the obligation, to determine whether it's a commercially marketable milestone.
The Yankees have two weeks to decide if home run 660 is a "marketable milestone." Their argument for it not being marketable would likely be that A-Rod's steroid use has tainted his home run chase. It's unclear what exactly would deem it marketable though, and it sounds like it will come down to a matter of semantics. How exactly would the Yankees prove that it is or isn't marketable?
If they choose not to declare it "marketable," and therefore refuse to pay the bonus money, then Rodriguez has thirty days to formally challenge the decision. For his part, A-Rod is trying to keep his head down and stay out of the media, though it is likely that he would challenge if they fail to pay him. When asked about the bonus money, he said it was "family business." His mantra since spring training has been that he's just happy to be playing baseball again, and it appears that he's learned his lesson about fighting the team publicly.
A few weeks ago, I polled the site on whether the Yankees should fight A-Rod on his home run bonuses. 73% of you said the Yankees should pay him, and many said that they should honor the contract. Now that we've read one of the clauses from the contract, has your opinion changed? Do you still think the Yankees should pay up, or does the wording change everything?