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Red Sox's Success This Season Could Prove to Be Very Costly

September 07, 1986|RICHARD JUSTICE | The Washington Post

BALTIMORE — When is winning something like losing?

Answer: This season for the Boston Red Sox' owners.

You might reach that conclusion, too, if you were sitting in the owner's box at Fenway Park and watching 2.1 million fans pour into your stadium, knowing you still might lose money because you had committed yourself to $2 million or more in incentive clauses in players' contracts.

Once upon a time, general managers tossed incentive clauses into contracts because (a) they wanted to get an obnoxious agent out of their office, (b) they thought giving incentives instead of higher base salaries would keep payrolls lower or (c) they figured the incentives wouldn't be met.

This season, all the bells are ringing for the Red Sox, and everyone is winning bonus games. For instance

--Pitcher Roger Clemens has a $225,000 base salary, but probably will earn an extra $140,000 because of three bonuses: $50,000 for winning the Cy Young Award, $25,000 for appearing in the all-star game and $65,000 for pitching 200 innings.

--Pitcher Tom Seaver has a $900,000 base salary, but could earn an extra $670,000: $225,000 for 200 innings, $320,000 for attendance bonuses, $25,000 for trade relocation expenses, $50,000 for MVP of the playoffs and $50,000 for MVP of the World Series.

--Outfielder Jim Rice has a $1.5 million base salary but could earn $250,000 more for being named AL MVP ($200,000 for finishing second in the voting), $100,000 for MVP of the playoffs and $100,000 for MVP of the World Series.

The Red Sox have sent a memo to all agents saying they won't be giving any more performance or incentive bonuses. The Cleveland Indians have made a similar decision, and it appears most other teams will do the same.

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