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Bloops: Gil Meche Retires Rather Than Being Paid Money He “Didn’t Earn”

Posted by Neil Paine on January 28, 2011

Interesting story here from Tyler Kepner of the NY Times, on Gil Meche's abrupt retirement:

Royals Pitcher Gil Meche Retires, Tossing Away $12 Million Guaranteed - NYTimes.com

In a sport dominated by guaranteed contracts, Meche felt so bad about what he believed were ill-gotten earnings that he walked away from the game.

This entry was posted on Friday, January 28th, 2011 at 5:16 pm and is filed under Bloops. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Bloops: Gil Meche Retires Rather Than Being Paid Money He “Didn’t Earn””

  1. What a class act. Players around the league could learn a thing a thing or two about class and professionalism and pride and humilty and decency from this guy. Im not holding my breath but way to go Gil!

  2. Watched Gil(ga) Meche during his tenure in Seattle and always like him. He was never the best pitcher, but he always acted professionally. Not surprised he made this decision. I'll miss him, though. He definitely earned the money he did make for the Royals the first two years of his contract before he got injured in 2009.

    Best of luck, Gil!

  3. I've always wondered this... if a player retires while still under contract (rare, I know), do they just forfeit the contract? And I presume should they unretire while still in the time period of the contract, they revert back to it? I don't really know how that works.

  4. Kudos to Gil Meche. While like most people I think most players are ridiculously overpaid, I don't begrudge them the money either because I know full well that I and 99.99999% of the population would take it in a heartbeat. I do respect players who are willing to take less to stay or play in a situation where they think that they'll be happier and that happens reasonably often. But to say: "I can't live up to my end of the bargain and I don't feel right keeping it", that takes it to an entirely different level of character & moral compass.

  5. After reading the article, I couldn't help wanting to know more about the prognosis for Meche's shoulder in a non-baseball sense. Kepner noted that Meche "will not have surgery to repair his chronically aching right shoulder." Will he, for example, be able to lift his young children? Does he plan to have the surgery sometime in the future?

    I know Kepner is a sportswriter, but it seems that the decision to write the story from the ethics-in-baseball angle kept him from asking (or at least answering for the readers) this important human-interest question.

  6. JA-

    I have no idea as to the specifics of Meche's situation, but I can say that, in general, there are many "sports injuries" that are only minor nuisances to us everyday folk. I've had multiple injuries that a doctor has told me, "If you were an athlete, we'd operate. But you don't need it." Often times, these guys could probably still play at a level that would embarrass the lot of us. An injured pitched might only throw at 75. I might have clocked that on my best day. So, my guess is that whatever injury he has probably won't hold him back in life. But it is an interesting question and the absence of that conversation gives some indication of how we view athletes, which is largely as a gladiator on the field who we don't care about off the field, except for entertainment purposes.

  7. Frank Clingenpeel Says:

    Meche is no doubt a class act. I hope that with his attitude, Gil can be employed in some capacity in the Mariners front office.

  8. What a moron. Keep the money and run, you're never going to earn again.

  9. I think that if I were to give $12 million away, I'd try to find a recipient more needy than the owners of the Kansas City Royals.

  10. ummmm the owners of the Kansas City Royals are very needy for this 12 million. if you read the article it says that is 3 times more than anyone else on the roster makes. this isnt the Yankees. he retired to give the money back to the organization that helped him out. dumbass.

  11. @3, BSK -- If a player retires before the end of his contract, yes, he would lose the money. Meche is deciding to retire. He could have simply gone through the motions, and collected the cash. I give him credit for taking this road, a road that I doubt few MLB players have travelled. Walking away from the money! On the other hand, he actually did earn that money, even if he never throws a pitch. That's the point of a guaranteed contract. There's also some decent evidence that suggests the Royals contributed to his arm problem, so he is rewarding the team that may have contributed to his end.

    Getting back to your original question. I wonder what would happen if Meche, say in two years, decides to make a comeback? Perhaps rest and exercise will help his shoulder, and one day he might wake up, feel no pain, and decides he misses the game. If he comes back, I can't think of why the Royals wouldn't have to pay him becaue they still have his MLB rights. I also don't think there's anyway the Player's Union would allow him to not collect money he was guaranteed. They wouldn't even let A-Rod take a slight reduction in his compensation in order to be traded to the Red Sox.

    Maybe there is an out. By him retiring and, in essence, not fulfilling the last year of his contract, perhaps it voids it. Yet, that doesn't sound right either. Let's say in a few years that Evan Longoria wakes up and realizes he signed a way-too-friendly team contract. He decides to sit out a season if he thinks that would void the contract and then "unretire" to sign a massive MLB contract. The five or six million he loses by sitting out a season he'll get back triple the following year. So that leads me to believe if Meche comes back, the Royals still own him and still owe him. Interesting question.

  12. Travis Fryman. Retires from the Indians, ho remind him he is due a $675,000 team option and says; "you keep it"

  13. Drew Henson, he of the "am I a Yankee, am I a Cowboy".

    Asks the Yanks to be let out of his contract and leaves- if I'm not mistaken- $11 million on the table. Never even asked the Yanks to negotiate.

  14. Gil Meche, Jamey Moyer, Bert Blyleven... same thing

  15. I figured the players union would never allow him to give money back he didnt earn. Very Classy

  16. A contract being perfectly fair is about as likely as a tied election. 99+% of the time, somebody's going to come out the winner. If he had turned into Greg Maddux, the Royals wouldn't owe him one cent more than the contract called for. With him being unable to perform, they didn't owe him one cent less.

    I appreciate giving up money for principle. I switched careers to oen where I'm making a third as much as I used to because I wanted a better reason to get up in the morning. But giving away money to David Glass is not something I'd do.

  17. I'm sorry, #10, but with all due respect to the poverty-stricken Royals, I'd be more impressed if Meche gave the money to, say, cancer research, or Haitian earthquake relief.

  18. @10,

    "dumbass"? Really? I will assume you are referring to Meche (although that obviously is up for debate), and not another poster on this blog.

  19. Martin M Solomon Says:

    Meche has an ex-wife in Arizona. It might affect the ethical analysis to learn how this decision affect payments, if at all, Meche is required to make to his ex-wife?

    Related point: If it gives her less money, did Meche discuss with her?

    Re # 17, not exactly a donation to owner. Could Meche have conditioned decision on payments by Royals of a portion for good causes? But the only way Meche would have been able to donate the money at issue here is if he pitched. Is it reasonable to expect Meche to pitch through pain and below his standard to make a large donation?

    Also reasonable for some people to donate $12 million from money earned before, but that requires information on Meche's net worth that we do not have.

    Martin M. Solomon
    Delray Beach, FL

  20. Wasn't the achy shoulder a risk that was borne by KC when they signed Meche? Did somebody twist KC's arm? Didn't KC buy an insurance contract from Lloyd's? If Meche had won 25 games in each year of his contract, would KC have volunteered to double his salary?

    The NYT article mentions an ex-wife, 3 children in two cities, and he lives in a third place. He has no business giving this money back! And, as somebody mentioned before, there are better causes than the KC Royals. If you feel guilty about your money, why not donate it?

  21. #19, you raise some good points. I wonder if Meche could have said something like this to the Royals: "You've agreed to pay me $12 million. I'm worth $0 million. Let's split the difference: you donate $6 million to the Red Cross in my honor, and I retire. Or: you pay me $6 million, on the understanding that I'm not going to undergo surgery or pitch for you, and I undertake to donate all/most/much of the money to Oxfam."

  22. You guys are right. Class act. I really enjoyed seeing him pitch for the Mariners. Wow! Choosing family over big money is awesome to see.