Whatever trouble Seattle outfielder Milton Bradley may or may not be in with the law, it wont immediately impact his position on the Mariners roster.
Bradley was arrested by members of the Los Angeles Police Department Tuesday and booked on a felony charge of making criminal threats under California Penal Code 422.
Bradley, who stands to have lots of competition for playing time despite the size ($12 million) of the paycheck hes drawing from Seattle, is due to be arraigned the first week of February, just days before the Mariners spring training camp opens.
But any Mariner fan hoping the club can use the allegations against Bradley as a way to get out from their financial obligation to the troubled player, however, are misguided.
Bradley has a Uniform Player Contract (UPC), and while there are technically rules that allow for the voiding of UPCs on “good citizenship violations, the reality is that never happens.
And from Bradleys point of view, allegations are just that. He has been charged, true, but there is no telling if he will ever go to trial or if he does, what the result of the trial might be.
Baseballs history is that no matter what happens, this incident will not directly impact Bradleys future with the Mariners. The club has been trying to deal him, but in the wake of his needing to take part of the 2010 season off to deal with anger management issues and with his salary being in eight figures, there hasnt been much interest.
True, the Mariners could just release him, but dont count on that, either. Its tough for a team already strapped for cash to swallow a $12 million contract.
Baseball sources talking on background to sportspressnw.com said that Bradleys contract does not contain any special language beyond the standard UPC clauses that would allow voiding of a contract.
The clauses covering good citizenship are such that no player in recent history has ever had that clause used against him to void his salary.
In 2005 the Baltimore Orioles attempted to do that with pitcher Sidney Ponson. Between December, 2004 and August, 2005, Ponson was charged with assaulting a judge in his native Aruba, then twice was charged with driving under the influence, once in Florida and once in Maryland.
After the last of those, the Orioles used the morals clause to release Ponson and void his contract, but the Major League Baseball Players Association filed a grievance on Ponsons behalf. The two sides wound up settling before going to arbitration and Ponson reportedly got most of the $11.2 million he was owed on the contract.
There are two clauses in baseballs UPCs that would seem to give clubs the ability to terminate a contract. One is Paragraph 7(b)(1), which says the club can make such a move if a player “refuses or neglects 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.
The other is Paragraph 7(b)(3), which gives clubs permission to void a contract if a player “fails, refuses or neglects to render his services hereunder or in any manner materially breach this contract.
The trouble is, the MLBPA almost always files a grievance, and Major League clubs are reticent to have such cases in front of an arbitrator.
One reason for that skittishness may well be the 1987 case involving San Diego Padres pitcher Lamarr Hoyt. Hed been sentence to jail time over multiple drug charges, among others the intent to distribute cocaine and the attempt to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the U.S.
The Padres invoked the citizenship clause in voiding his contract, but a grievance was duly filed and arbitrator George Nicolau ruled that the Padres had overreacted. Hoyts contract was restored.
The Mariners said in a statement released late Tuesday they will not have any further comment on the Bradley situation “until we have more information.