Ken Davidoff's baseball insider

Yankees, Mets, trade rumors, free agents, off-the-wall predictions and other MLB musings.

Why Henry Blanco can make $50,000 for winning the NL MVP

Head home today, weather permitting. It has been an extremely productive week for the Yankees, obviously, and not so much for the Mets.

Found out an interesting nugget about the Mets and their negotiations with one of the few players they've acquired so far, Henry Blanco. It turns out that, during Blanco's physical, concerns emerged about the catcher's right shoulder.

Whether you want to say he "failed" the physical is a matter of semantics. But the Mets, still interested in having Blanco as their backup behind the plate, re-negotiated the terms of the deal to protect them against a shoulder injury.

In return for less guaranteed money - $750,000, as opposed to $1.45 million - the Mets gave Blanco a number of incentives that boosts the potential value of the contract to $2,225,000. But the extra $775,000, from the initial $1.45 million to this new figure, is attainable through means that can politely be described as "hilarious."

Here's the breakdown of the deal:

--Blanco gets a base of $750,000.

--There is $700,000 he can earn through "roster bonuses." Just by keeping the shoulder healthy, he will get back up to the initially agreed upon figure of $1.45 million. The breakdown is as such: $5,000 each for days 1 through 80 on the roster, $4,500 each for days 81 through 135 and $3,5000 each for days 136 through 150.

--Now, keep in mind, the Mets clearly wanted Blanco. If they didn't, they would've used the physical results to say, "See ya!" and moved on. But in return for guaranteeing so much less money, they had to allow Blanco to save some face. He can at least attest that the deal has a capacity of over $2 million.

Of course, if Blanco makes a single cent of this extra $775,000, then either something will have gone horribly wrong for the Mets, or Blanco will have undergone a one-year transformation that would make Henry Rowengartner from "Rookie of the Year" seem ordinary.

Anyway, I'm stalling. Here are the incentives: $50,000 each for starting 60, 65, 70, 75 and 80 games. $75,000 each for starting 85, 90, 95 and 100 games. $50,000 for winning the Most Valuable Player award, with $25,000 for second place and $10,000 for third. $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP. $50,000 for World Series MVP. $25,000 each for the Gold Glove or Silver Slugger award. $50,000 for making the All-Star Game.

--If Blanco goes on the disabled list due to the shoulder injury...well, that's why the roster bonuses are there, to protect the Mets. But if he sustains a different injury that causes him to go on the DL, that time will count toward his roster time. And if he's released at any time as a consequence for anything besides a shoulder injury (incompetence, for instance), then he'll get the full $700,000 in roster bonuses.

Blanco's agent, Steve Schneider, disputed my assertion that he initially agreed to $1.45 million and then had to accept less. But we were debating semantics. "Nothing is done until you reach the finish line," he told me.

He stressed that Blanco's shoulder has been fine since a procedure performed in 1997.

So...we'll see. This could be nothing. The good news for Mets fans is, if Blanco does go down with a shoulder problem, the team will have wasted only $750,000. Of course, the bad news is, if he does go down with a shoulder problem...you'll wonder why the Mets spent more money on an aging, breaking down player.

--Sorry for the lack of Mets info here yesterday. With the Yankees executing two huge transactions, my attention was focused in the Bronx. As for the Mets...not a great deal has changed, as David Lennon reports here and here.

At this point, I would be stunned if the Mets didn't sign Bengie Molina; it's just a matter of whether they can patiently not bid against themselves. Two years for $10 million is reasonable when Ivan Rodriguez gets $6 million for two years. Two years for $12 million? Not so much.

Their pitching voyage is tied in with Roy Halladay, whom they're not getting - much more than they weren't getting Johan Santana two years ago. If the Angels acquire Halladay, then they'll give up on John Lackey, and Lackey's price just might drop to an area - think five years and $82.5 million that A.J. Burnett got from the Yankees last year - in which the Mets could convince themselves to be comfortable.

If Halladay goes elsewhere - it appears the Phillies are coming into contention - then the Mets are going to be left with table scraps. Could they then possibly wait out Matt Holliday to a figure under $100 million? Again, nothing is impossible. But the Cardinals could probably compete with such a figure, at which point Holliday would have to choose between the Cardinals and the Mets.

--Fascinating that the Red Sox want to essentially pay Mike Lowell, their former World Series MVP, to go to the Rangers, in return for an interesting (but not captivating) piece in Max Ramirez. If you look at Lowell's numbers, three of his four seasons have been quite similar statistically, in terms of rate stats. The outlier was 2007, his walk year, w hich of course created his three-year, $36-million deal.

The difference was he played far fewer games in 2008 and 2009 than he did in 2006 and 2007, and the Red Sox clearly, desperately want to get younger. If they sign Adrian Beltre to play third base, that's a heck of an upgrade. If Ramirez can establish himself as a viable second catcher, you wonder whether the Red Sox will simply release Jason Varitek.

--All right, get your Rule 5 hats ready! We'll be back in a few hours.

 

 

 

 

Tags: Mike Lowell , Max Ramirez , Roy Halladay , John Lackey

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