The 15 Craziest Contract Incentives In Sports History

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As sports contracts have ballooned over the years, teams have had to find ways to pay their stars less without those stars knowing it. One way professional sports teams have done this is through contract incentives.

Contract incentives are simply performance bonuses or in-season goals the athlete must complete in order to get their full paycheck.

Sometimes these incentives make sense. If an athlete has an injury concern he may earn his full contract in increments the longer he can stay healthy. Some are more ludicrous, such as a bench player earning a million bucks for winning league MVP.

In rare cases those incentives are actually perks to make sure the player signs.

In any case, those player probably shouldn’t be betting on themselves.

That’s the point of a contract incentive, though. These teams know that athletes are both competitive and have egos. Why wouldn’t an athlete bet on himself to earn every last bit of his contract?

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The following is a list of the 15 most ridiculous contract incentives in sports history, in no particular order.

15. Derek Jeter is his own GM

derek jeterNear the end of his career Derek Jeter was given a pretty crazy contract incentive. Well, perk might be a better term. He basically had two options. After his contract was over he could pick up his “player option” for $8 million, or he could force the Yankees to “buyout” his contract for $3 million. Nice.

14. Adam Dunn, Gold Glove Designated Hitter

adam dunnWhen Adam Dunn signed his contract to play for the Chicago White Sox in 2010, he had one job; to hit home runs. That fact makes his particular contract incentive all the more odd. A first baseman during his Cincinnati days, Chicago decided that Dunn could earn $25,000 for winning a Gold Glove. With designated hitter not being a defensive position, this incentive was dead before the ship even sank.

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Written by Scott Croker

Scott Croker

Scott Croker is a sports nut and education enthusiast from the San Francisco Bay Area with a message he plans to shout from the rooftops. Or in all caps on his computer screen. When not living his writing dream he works in the special education department of a charter high school in Los Angeles. He is also the head coach of the school’s upstart football team.