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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.


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:


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.


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.