Sometimes it takes more than dollars and cents to get a deal done. General managers have to get creative to find ways to bring players they need into the fold.
A lot of people didn't think the Cardinals were going to be able to afford to keep Mark McGwire when they traded for him late in the 1997 season. I was one of them. I was living outside of the St. Louis area at the time. But I hot footed it home to check out the big red head and buy myself a McGwire Cardinals t-shirt to commemorate what I was sure would be a short stay.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The T-shirt didn't seem like that big of a commitment compared to the Wayne Gretzky Blues sweater I rushed out and bought after hockey's Babe Ruth was traded to St. Louis...
Anyway, former Cardinals general manager got creative with the big guy. He drafted a contract that paid McGwire to put hind ends in the seats at Busch Stadium. McGwire got $1 for every person over and above 2.8 million from 1998-2001 and he would have got $2 per person over 2.8 million he drew if he would have played for St. Louis in 2002 and 2003. He walked away from the unsigned contract and retired instead.
Not only did McGwire rake in a huge annual bonus, as the Cardinals shattered the 3 million mark every year he played here. But the Cardinals made a lot more money than he did on all of those extra tickets sold.
It makes you wonder what sort of mutually beneficial clauses the Cardinals could come up with if they wanted to make a sincere effort to sign Manny Ramirez.
What do you give a multi-millionaire ballplayer who has everything when you want to stroke his ego? When the Astros beat the Cardinals in the 2005 National League Championship Series, a clause in Roy Oswalt's deal awarded him a shiny, yellow new bulldozer.
Sure, he could have afforded to buy his own bulldozer. But if that silly clause is what it took to get a deal done, so be it.