Editor's Note: I tend to get quite a few submissions for guest post and this one is a perfect storm in the sense that it is A) a very current topic, B) it answers a question that a lot of people are asking, and C) it is written by someone who has special knowledge of the subject. Thanks to John for helping us understand more about tampering from a legal perspective.
MADDON AND THE CUBS: WHAT IS TAMPERING
By: John Lowery
With the (imminent) signing of former Rays manager Joe Maddon to a lucrative deal managing the Chicago Cubs, many people both in and out of the industry are accusing the Cubs and PBO Theo Epstein of “tampering.” Tampering is shorthand for “tortious interference with contractual relations” and a person (or entity) can be held liable for interfering with the contractual relationship between two other parties. In this case, the Cubs are being accused of interfering with the relationship between Maddon and his former employer, the Tampa Bay Rays. There was a clause in the contract which gave Maddon a fourteen (14) day window to exit the agreement if the team changed general managers. This opt-out clause was triggered when Andrew Freidman left the Rays for a staggering financial package offered by the Dodgers. Absent the opt-out clause, Maddon was locked into employment with the Rays until the end of the 2015 MLB season. There has been no mention of an exclusive negotiating window for the Rays with Maddon if he exercised his option, which he famously did just before game three of the World Series.
Looking at this from a lawyer’s perspective, it appears the tampering/interference charges are unfounded. Unless there was a clause or bargained for exchange giving Tampa Bay an exclusive negotiating window, Maddon was effectively a free agent the moment he or his agent began negotiating a new agreement because in so doing they had necessarily elected to discard the original agreement and replace it with a new one. Big caveat: if they were exclusively discussing an extension to the original contract that would not change his 2015 salary or working conditions, the contract could still be deemed in place. Media accounts seem to indicate however the discussions involved an immediate raise and extension. Since the parties were negotiating for a new deal to be effective immediately, the old agreement has been already set aside even if there had been no public announced. Unless it can be shown that without the Cubs involvement Maddon never would have entered discussions with the Rays to redo the 2015 agreement, no tampering charge can be proven. The moment Maddon (or his agent) began discussing a raise for 2015, he had effectively excercised his option and was a free agent, although not a public one. If his agent and the Cubs spoke about the parameters of a deal at any time after those negotiations began, there is no tampering.
All this is to say this lawyer (and Cubs fan) at least isn’t troubled in the least by allegations of tampering. They don’t appear to have merit and are most likely calculated to help the Rays save face with their Florida fan base after losing arguably the game’s best manager to the Chicago National League team. Now about some pitching….
Filed under: Uncategorized