Forum Spin Doctor
NEW YORK - Barry Bonds gave the San Francisco Giants the right to terminate his $15.8 million, one-year contract if he is indicted.
The unusual provision could set off a legal test between the rights in an individual player's contract and rights under the union's collective bargaining agreement. The language, included in the deal that was completed Monday night, is designed by the team to protect itself in case Bonds is charged in the federal government's steroids investigation.
Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, is in a California federal prison because he has refused to testify whether Bonds committed perjury when he told a 2003 grand jury he never knowingly used performance-enhancing drugs.
Complicating matters, the version of Bonds' contract that was sent to the commissioner's office by the Giants was not approved, Bonds' agent, Jeff Borris, said late Tuesday. Borris said the team was redrafting the agreement to address the provisions in question and sending him a revised version by express mail for Bonds to review and sign. Borris wouldn't specify what was at issue.
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."
In addition, the Giants have the less drastic option of converting Bonds' deal to nonguaranteed, the baseball executive said. Players with nonguaranteed contracts can be released before opening day for 30 or 45 days' termination pay, depending on the timing.
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.
Giants owner Peter Magowan declined comment.
Borris said the additional language in Bonds' contract would be unenforceable if the matter ever was litigated because baseball's collective bargaining agreement would take precedence. Because of that, Borris said the inclusion of the added provision is meaningless.
"Although it is not my policy to comment on the specifics of an individual player's contract, the reporting that Barry will allow the Giants to get out of his contract if he is indicted on the federal steroid investigation is inaccurate," he said. "The collective bargaining agreement governs the work relationship between the owners and players, not the Giants' unilateral assertions."
Bonds was at AT&T Park on Tuesday and held a meeting with about 100 people from the team's staff, Giants spokesman Jim Moorehead said.
"It was a meet-and-greet session," Moorehead said.
On Monday, as the contract was being finalized, Magowan and Bonds met to put their ill will behind them. A day after the season ended, Magowan had said "we need to go in a new direction" and that "we do need to get younger and healthier."
Bonds was miffed by those remarks, said those around him. Before Thanksgiving, Magowan called the Bonds camp to clarify his comments and say he did not mean to offend the star.
Bonds became a free agent after completing a $90 million, five-year contract, and the sides agreed to the financial terms of a new contract Dec. 7. His new deal allows him to earn $4.2 million in performance bonuses: $500,000 for 250 plate appearances, $1 million each for 300, 375 and 450, and $700,000 for 525.
Under the new agreement, two of Bonds' trainers - Harvey Shields and Greg Oliver - no longer will be on the Giants' payroll. They also won't be permitted in restricted areas in any major league ballpark, such as the clubhouse.
"I have no problems with it," Bonds said. "(Oliver) and Harvey will be with me, just outside the ballpark."
As part of the agreement, Bonds gets to use a luxury suite at AT&T Park for five games and gets five free lower box seats for all road games. He also gets a hotel suite on road trips.