There is a lot of speculation floating around about Kip Wells. Will the Pirates release him? Do the Pirates have to keep him on the roster because his injury is work related? If released before March 15th, do they pay him 30-days termination salary? The questions are endless.
Initially, I believed Kip would be subjected to release and 30-day termination salary, as Dejan reported at the Post-Gazette (I should have known better right there, huh?).
Long time Pirate fan Mike Emeigh questioned my position so I decided to check with a front office official in MLB today. I was told this:
"My guess is that if they release him, Wells/his agent/the MLBPA will contest it and it will go to an arbitrator, at which point anything can happen, but most likely the sides will work out a settlement, probably one that favors the club (because it was not a guaranteed contract, so the onus is on the player’s side to produce affirmative evidence that the injury was caused by his earlier work)."
As I stated on the Pirates listserver, evidently, nothing is set in stone. Dejan has already reported what we can *assume* to be the Pirates position that they could release him and pay the 30-day termination fee.
That stated position also correlates with Littlefield’s initiatal press release, that Kip’s current injury is not related in any way to his previous injuries, to the thoughts expressed to me above.
Pirate fan Wilbur Miller, himself an attorney, responded to my post in the listserv with these thoughts:
"I think this is probably right. The "release the player because he [stinks]" clause gives the team a lot of leeway by saying "in the opinion of the Club’s management." I get the impression from the newspaper stories that there’s probably not a definitive answer on the cause of Wells’ injury. Since he’d have the burden of proof to show it was baseball-related, he wouldn’t be in a strong position, although he’d have enough of a case that it would probably be in the Pirates’ interest to settle.
I’ll be curious to see how this comes out.
The Pirates have shown more of an inclination to litigate lately than they did under Bonifay–they went to an arb. hearing with Jack Wilson (although they apparently have all gotten over it, as we’re seeing today), and the last I knew they also were litigating with Bobby Bradley."
Kip is back in Bradenton and seeking a second opinion. Good for him. Until we hear if Kip is going to pitch or have surgery, all we can do is continue to pray for him and his family.