Earlier this offseason, Roy Oswalt expressed interest in restructuring his contract in order to allow GM Ed Wade to effectively explore the free agent market. Owner Drayton McClane did not allow this to happen but it presented an interesting scenario nonetheless. The MLBPA does not allow players to take paycuts, per se, but restructuring deals are still fair game. Then again, the restructuring needs to be done carefully so as to avoid any type of “wrongdoing” to the player.
For instance, if a player is owed $10 mil/yr for four seasons, he may be able to restructure his contract so that he makes just $6 mil in years three and four. In exchange for earning lesser money in those contracted seasons, the player could receive another year on the deal, an option built in, or even the “lost” money deferred after the original contract normally would have expired.
I bring this up only because, while Oswalt did not get to restructure his deal with the Astros, Ned Colletti was able to restructure the ugly contract given to Andruw Jones. Jones signed a 2-yr/$36.2 mil deal prior to last season and proceeded to put up sub-Michael Bourn numbers in limited action.
With Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier guaranteed starting spots, Juan Pierre realistically staying put, and the club’s desire to re-sign Manny Ramirez, Jones has no spot on the team. He asked the Dodgers to trade him this offseason, but being owed ~$22 mil in salary and bonuses is anything but appetizing for teams. Why would they want to pay Manny Ramirez money for someone who just put up 1/8 of that caliber of production?
According to Cot’s Contracts, an absolutely invaluable website for anything and everything contract-related, the restructured contract will see up to $12 mil of his remaining money deferred over the next six seasons, without interest. Jones’ original deal was backloaded to begin with, and the new contract will save the Dodgers plenty of money this season. It also turns Jones from a high-risk/medium-reward player into a low or medium-risk/medium-reward player, given that he will be owed so little money. And, assuming the team releases Jones, allowing another to sign him for a $1 mil or less deal, he is very low risk with the potential for very high reward.
The Braves have reportedly expressed interest, but it will be extremely interesting to see what happens with a very cheap Andruw Jones given the circumstances of the current outfield market. Does Andruw Jones at $600K after being released make someone like Abreu seem less worthy than the $9-10 mil he may have to settle for? Does it make no difference? Regardless, Andruw Jones will no longer play for the Dodgers, but the situation looks like it was handled well, as his production in no may merited the original fee, but the contract will not be an albatross or deterrent to other teams.
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