Long-Term Contracts and Injury Clauses

July 24, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Carl Crawford (13) during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-US PRESSWIRE

In case you missed it yesterday, the Boston Red Sox announced that outfielder Carl Crawford will undergo Tommy John surgery as early as tomorrow, putting him on the shelf again for at least a year.

By the time Crawford returns from injury, likely late next season, the Red Sox will have paid upwards of $54.3 million over three seasons for just one hundred sixty-one games of playing time at a .260/.292/.419 clip. To make it a bit more depressing, the Red Sox will have paid Crawford over $50 million to not play left field for three hundred twenty-five games.

I realize that injuries are difficult if not impossible to predict, but it still pains me to see a player "earn" tens of millions of dollars on a long-term contract while sitting at home and enjoying the fruits of their non-labor.

It seems fair (to me) that if a team signs a player like Crawford to an expensive, long-term commitment---say, over five years and $100 million---the team should be allowed to add a stipulation to the contract that protects it in cases of chronic injury like Crawford's.

I do not mean that the team should be allowed to opt out of the contract completely, that would give teams far too much grace. Rather, why not include a DL days limit that allows the team to continue with the contract at a reduced cost if the threshold is crossed?

In Crawford's case, for example, Boston could have set a contract reduction to kick in if he missed more than four hundred eighty-six games: three seasons exactly. At the time of the signing, there was no reason for Crawford or anyone to think he would miss three full seasons. Now though? Definitely a possibility.

The NFL has a somewhat similar (though much more confusing) policy with its Injury Protection Benefit, so what is to stop baseball from doing the same?

All cards on the table, I do not know much about the MLB player's union. They may very well have weighed in on this subject already and decided it was not to their liking. If they have, however, I have not heard of it.

What do you think?

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