Like that will hold up in court

An interesting story appeared on earlier, via the Associated Press, regarding Barry Bonds’ new contract. According to the headline, the Giants can terminate Bonds’ contract if he is indicted on perjury charges pursuant to his 2003 grand jury testimony that he never knowingly took performance enhancing drugs.

I’ll let the article do the talking:

As part of the agreement, if Bonds is indicted the Giants have the right to terminate it under two sections of the Uniform Player Contract, a baseball executive said Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the team didn’t announce that detail.

Under 7(b)(1), a team may terminate a contract if the player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey the club’s training rules.”

Section 7(b)(3) gives the team the right to end the deal if a player shall “fail, refuse or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract.”

I don’t see how a team could terminate pursuant to 7(b)(3) and get away with it. The language is simply too ambiguous, and the MLBPA would step right in. And, though the language is a bit more precise in 7(b)(1), it’s hard to believe an indictment would be grounds for termination.

By no means am I a lawyer, but my guess is that the only clause that could possibly be grounds for termination in the case of an indictment would be: “fail, refuse or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship.” This, I believe, is the same clause pursued by the Yankees in their attempt to void Jason Giambi’s contract after he admitted to using PEDs to the same grand jury.

Bonds is a different beast, though. My thought is that if Bonds is indicted and the Giants try to void the deal, the MLBPA will immediately step in and say that Bonds has been convicted of nothing. In fact, per the article:

As part of the deal, Bonds gave up the right to ask the players’ association to file a grievance if he is indicted and the contract is terminated. But nothing would stop the union from pursuing a grievance on its own.

And, as is its nature, the players’ association would certainly file a grievance. Without a conviction, there is no way the Giants will be terminating this deal. But it’s a slow news day, so might as well let the AP have their fun, right?

Update: The deal was rejected by the commissioner’s office. HA!


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January 2007
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