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That Unique Escalator Language in Chatwood’s Cubs Contract is a Problem for the BBWAA

Chicago Cubs News

When the Cubs signed Tyler Chatwood last week to a three-year, $38 million deal (the biggest of the offseason so far, which is nuts), the contract included a unique provision that would increase the price of Chatwood’s third year with the Cubs if he gets a single Cy Young vote from the Baseball Writers Association of America.


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At the time, we half-joked that the provision was problematic because a single rogue voter (from St. Louis!) could increase the cost of Chatwood’s contract, even if his performance didn’t necessarily merit a down-the-ballot Cy Young vote. Indeed, the possibility for more serious shenanigans are there, too, if there were, say, trading information for a vote, for one example.

The BBWAA saw things the same way this week when they met at the Winter Meetings:


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As each of Wittenmyer and Levine note, you don’t see this kind of language in contracts these days, because a similar provision proved problematic 10 years ago with Curt Schilling. Bonus provisions tied to winning awards or a top five finish or something like that? Not really an issue. But a single vote? That seems very different.

Per Wittenmyer’s report, the BBWAA will meet with MLB, MLBPA officials, and Chatwood’s agent to discuss the issue.

We’ll see what happens. It’s possible a different bonus provision could be negotiated, or it’s possible – as the reports indicate that Chatwood would simply be prohibited from consideration for the awards, which would really suck for him. It seems like there should be a way to massage the language and keep all sides happy.

Hopefully this is resolved without any serious problems.


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Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.