Thursday, May 5, 2016

Monica Abbot Signs Six-Year Deal w/ Scrap Yard Dawgs

Monica Abbott, widely considered the best active pitcher in the game, has signed a six-year free-agent contract, a "million-dollar deal", with the Scrap Yard Dawgs, the newest expansion team in the National Pro Fastpitch league.

Abbott, 30, has pitched for the Chicago Bandits for the last five seasons, and the Dawgs will be her fifth NPF team overall since entering the league in 2007. She took the 2008 season off to participate in the Olympics as a member of Team USA.

A Tennessee Lady Vol from 2004-2007, Abbott cemented her status as the program's living legend when she ended her career with 189 career wins, an ERA of 0.79, and 2,440 career strikeouts. She ended her collegiate career as the NCAA's all-time leader in six categories, including wins, strikeouts, shutouts, and innings pitched, among others. She was named the National Player of the Year in 2007.

Abbott led the NPF in 2015 with an 0.31 ERA and her thirteen wins were second in the league. She allowed only thirty-two hits in 90.1 innings of work, striking out 149 over the same period of time. Her dominance was integral in the Bandits' taking home the Cowles Cup as the league champions.

The six-year deal is structured interestingly to fit within the league's $150,000 salary cap. Abbott's base salary will annually be $20,000, with the rest of the $1,000,000 sum being filled through various bonuses based on attendance numbers. The league's attendance fluctuate based on many different factors, including at various venues, but various news outlets have reported a minimum of 100 fans in attendance triggers many of the bonuses, as do several other factors.

Abbott will turn thirty-seven in the midst of the final year of the contract, which stretches to 2021. As Graham Hays of ESPNW noted, the deal seems to be particularly structured toward allowing Abbott's return to international competition should softball be re-allowed into the Olympics for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

The signing makes Abbott the fourth former Lady Vol to join the Dawgs for their first season of play, joining fellow former Tennessee stars Ivy & Ellen Renfroe and Madison Shipman.

The timing of the contract's announcement is interesting, as well, as the Bandits had placed the franchise tag on Abbott to allow for exclusive negotiation up to the tag's expiration on May 1. That the contract with such intricately-woven language would be finalized in such a short period of time is intriguing. The Dawgs will have to forfeit their 2017 first-round draft selection to the Bandits due to signing the tagged player.