Just over two years ago, Kansas City and the baseball world were stunned by the tragic news of the death of young pitcher Yordano Ventura in a car accident in the Dominican Republic. According to an article at the Kansas City Star today by Sam McDowell and Vahe Gregorian, his remaining estate, of which his five-year old daughter is the sole heir, has not been paid over the $20.25 million guaranteed to Ventura as part of his contract with the Royals.
Court documents filed in Jackson County show Ventura owed $2.6 million on a bank loan when he died on Jan. 22, 2017. He was 25 years old. His estate is described as insolvent in one court filing, though if the contract is paid out, the money would go directly to the estate with his daughter as the heir, according to a petition filed in a Florida court.
Ventura’s daughter has already received a $12.6 million life insurance payout after her father’s death, according to court documents, but it is held in a protected trust in Florida and is not part of his estate.
The article reports that the matter is being negotiated between MLB and the MLBPA due to the unprecedented nature of such a long-term deal with a player that died. Read the article for more details on the financials and Ventura’s spending before his death.
Previously, reporter Ken Rosenthal indicated one sticking point in negotiations was the toxicology report from Ventura’s accident.
However, guaranteed contracts include exceptions that relate to player conduct, and Ventura’s deal includes a provision that will nullify payment for failure to perform due to injury or death resulting from driving a motorized vehicle while intoxicated, sources said.
A toxicology report was conducted, but the results were only released to the family and attorneys, according to the Star.
Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident just months before Ventura, and MLB paid the Marlins $700,000 as a result of the death, with all the funds going to a trust for Fernandez’s daughter. MLB policy is to give teams $1 million for a player’s death, but that number was revised down due to the presence of drugs and alcohol in Fernandez’s blood at the time of his death.
Ventura signed a five-year, $23.5 million contract at the outset of the 2015 season. Had he lived, he would have been paid $9.75 million this year alone.
It is important to remember that this involves millions of dollars, numerous attorneys, and insurance companies. Even if the Royals wanted to just give Ventura’s estate millions of dollars as a goodwill gesture, MLB attorneys may try to prevent them as a matter of precedent. For what its worth, Moore says he has stayed in contact with the Ventura family and that the Glass family has been supportive.