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Prince Fielder Could End Up Being MLB’s Highest Paid Player in 2020

In Thursday’s Hot Clicks: how a retired player could end up making more than anybody in baseball, the Rams’ new uniforms and more.

Guaranteed contracts are the best

If baseball is going to be played this year, the players and the owners are going to have to come to an agreement on how players will be paid. When the dust settles, the guy pulling in the biggest salary in 2020 could be someone who last played four years ago. 

With an 82-game schedule likely, the players have already agreed to cut their salaries in half accordingly. But owners want the players to sacrifice even more. Without fans in the stands, owners are anticipating a drop in revenue of perhaps as much as 40%. That’s why they want the players union to agree to a 50-50 revenue split. People on the players’ side are wary that the owners could be taking advantage of the crisis to lay the groundwork for the introduction of a salary cap in next winter’s CBA negotiations. 

It’s a total mess, but one group of people could end up not having to make any concessions at all: players who were already released from their contracts. Contracts in baseball are fully guaranteed, so if a team wants to cut a guy loose, they still have to pay him what they agreed to pay him when he signed the contract. 

That’s where Fielder comes in. The former Brewers, Tigers and Rangers slugger was forced to end his career in 2016 due to a neck injury. Formally retiring would have meant Fielder would forfeit his salary. Because his injury was deemed career-ending, Fielder and the Rangers simply agreed that he would no longer play and he was released by the team to avoid taking up a 40-man roster spot. This is the final year of the contract, and he’s owed $24 million

According to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal, that figure is unlikely to be decreased and it’s quite possible Fielder will make more money than anybody else in baseball this year. 

“The amount Fielder receives might decrease if the parties reach a subsequent deal to reduce the pay of players who were released before the COVID-19 pandemic, but such an adjustment is unlikely, sources say,” Rosenthal wrote. “The players are no longer on 40-man rosters, and the sport’s collective-bargaining agreement seemingly protects the guarantees in their contracts.”

If every player is having their salary cut in half, there’s no one who can come close to touching Fielder’s $24 million. Mike Trout is the highest paid player in the game, slated to pull down $37.7 million. Gerrit Cole’s new deal with the Yankees pays him $36 million per year. Cut those numbers in half and you don’t even come close to matching Fielder’s $24 million. 

The only players who could rival Fielder’s 2020 payday are Wei-Yin Chen, who’s owed $22 million from the Marlins, and Jacoby Ellsbury, who was supposed to get $26 million from the Yankees before the team refused to pay it

That’s why it pays to have a strong union that fights for guaranteed contracts. Take note, NFL players.

I found him!

Remember the kid from Tuesday’s Hot Clicks with the Michael Jordan scouting report

I was able to track him down and get the whole story of that pickup game.

Here he is as a 40-year-old, right outside that very same gym. 

Aaron Watkins outside the gym where he would play basketball with Michael Jordan

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Around the sports world

Joe Buck says Fox is probably going to use fake crowd noise and virtual fans for NFL broadcasts this season. ... According to Dean Blandino, the NFL’s replay system went down on Thanksgiving Day 2016 because somebody microwaved some food. ... A golfer in Arizona won a tournament using only a putter he bought at Goodwill for $3. ... A world champion darts player who was forced out of a virtual tournament due to bad internet is back in business after getting his connection upgraded. ... The NBA is switching up the manufacturer of its game ball.

New uniforms for the Rams

That’s not good

The Clippers sent all their players a complete home gym

Gimme a hell yeah

A documentary on Rulon Gardner comes out June 3 on the Olympic Channel

Mitchell Scwartz has found his post-football calling

Mark Cuban thinks the NBA rules could change forever as a result of the pandemic

The full episode of Shelter in Place With Shane Smith airs tonight at 10:30 on Viceland.

Not sports

A woman entered Yellowstone National Park illegally and was burned after falling in a hot spring. ... During a police chase in Oklahoma, a truck rolled over completely and kept on driving. ... Uber Eats is trying to take advantage of the pandemic to buy Grubhub. ... Post Malone is coming out with a rosé wine, because he's classy like that.

Elon Musk is still thriving

How does she still have all her limbs?

Extremely unsettling

A good song

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