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All Part of the Process: Miguel Olivo Beginning to Reach Playing-Time Bonuses

And now, your Miguel Olivo playing time bonuses update. As per Cot's, Olivo's current contract with the Royals includes a number of playing time bonuses. Since John Buck was injured & exiled earlier this season, it looks like Olivo's off-season demand/complaint to be the starting catcher has been fully satisfied.

  • performance bonuses based on games, plate appearances:

    • $25,000 each for 75, 80, 85, 90, 95, 100 games
    • $50,000 each for 105, 110, 115, 120 games
    • $25,000 each for 275, 300, 325, 350, 375, 400 PAs
    • $50,000 each for 425, 450, 475, 500 PAs

Olivo's contract history with the Royals is really fascinating, as it's a chronicle representative of a number of moves Dayton Moore has made. For no real reason, as he did with Ross Gload and Mark Grudzielanek, the Royals keep tearing up old contracts, renegotiating, adding option years, etc. It's almost as if Dayton thinks he's running an NFL team. At the moment, Olivo is set to earn a base salary (again, NFLism) of $2.7 million, with a $3.3 million mutual option for 2010.

As you can see from the data above, Miguel can also earn an additional $700,000 -- 26% of his base pay -- if he hits all of his playing time bonuses. (The CBA between MLB and the MLBPA does not allow performance clauses, per se, although awards based on playing time, playoff appearances, attendance, and, get ready to laugh, tie-ins with awards like the Gold Glove and the other major BBWAA awards are allowed. )

I don't necessarily have a huge problem with all these minutely laid out bonuses, there's just something a bit amateurish about the whole thing. For one, why does Olivo need a $25,000 bonus for all those five game increments that begin after 80 games played? Why do bonuses need to be given for games and plate appearances, which over the course of a 162 game season, are basically reached at the same pace, once you factor in the math. Why can't Olivo just have a $50,000 bonus at 80 games played and then, say, a $75,000 bonus at $100,000, and so on? When you add up all the bonuses, yes, the figure is actually sorta impressive, but the smallness of the figures themselves... I dunno, boys... it just looks out of place in 2009.

Now, Moore has done contracts like this in the past, most recently with the Ross Gload extension (though Gload's was only in plate appearances, which seems somehow more professional), but it could very well be Olivo's camp that pushed for these escalators. Or maybe they wanted $3.0 million, and Moore offered $2.7 with a chance at $3.4 as a compromise. I don't know.

In any case, Miguel hit his first thresholds very recently. He played in his 75th game of the season last week against Baltimore, then reached game number 80 today in Tampa. Likewise, during his 80th game, he also hit PA #275. To date, he's earned an extra $75,000 in bonuses on the current road trip.

Really, you have to know the ins and outs of the contract negotiations to understand what's really going on with these bonuses. I think most of us tend to think of bonuses as just that, borderline acts of corporate largess, though in many fields, from banking to baseball, it's an accepted, and expected part of how you're compensated. Obviously, in the baseball sphere, they're nice bits of quick and dirty injury insurance, which is nice. However, it's also a chance to add acrimony to the clubhouse for no real reason.

I'll throw one more, semi-silly, thing out there: maybe this is all to sooth ownership. The Royals have long underreported what their salary actually is, as NY Royal, has pointed out multiple times on this site. For awhile there, everytime we saw a story discussing the size of the Royal payroll, the stated number was $5-10 million dollars lower than what was actually being paid. Is it possible Dayton has some number he's supposed to remain under, and these contracts are a way to ostensibly do so? In both the case of Gload and Olivo, everyone with the Royals quickly fell in love with both players, and these bonuses were laid out with a more than reasonable expectation that they would easily be met.

Finally however, there is one last bit of evidence suggesting this is more of a "Dayton thing". Would you be stunned if I told ya that St. Willie Bloomquist also has similar bonuses built into his contract? Would you be stunned

Do you want to look it up, or should I?