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It's rare a professional athlete gets to stay with one franchise for their entire career. Unless you are a Kobe Bryant, Tom Brady, or Derek Jeter most players are expendable to the franchise. At the end of the day, the players need to understand it's a business. Teams have to do what is in the best interest for the team and not the players. It sounds harsh but it is reality.

 

Players get traded all the time whether it is during the season or in the offseason. It may not always be a destination they want to get traded to either but it is part of the business. Imagine your employer trading you away to another company and you have no say in it. You are forced to relocate and readapt to a new environment, culture, and structure. This is unlike any other business.

 

When a player gets traded, there is more that goes into just how they will fit in with their new team. There is a big transition process that goes on affecting their living situation. Factors include, transportation and travel expenses, moving expenses, finding a new residency, and if a player has a family those expenses will be multiplied. It sounds extremely unfair that a player would have to absorb all those expenses for a trade decision that they had no control over. Most professional sport leagues understand that it would be quite unreasonable for the players to personally take on all these expenses, thus they were able to reach agreements with the players' associations to put into the CBAs.

 

In this article, I will be comparing the different CBA provisions in the NBA, NFL, and MLB that involve player expenses, travel expenses, and moving expenses upon a player getting traded to another team. These provisions do their best to ensure that the players are reimbursed a "reasonable" amount for their inherited costs as well as making sure the league does not get taken advantage of from excessive expenditures.   

 

NBA

 

In the NBA, in the event a player is forced to relocate to another team via trade, they are offered the following reimbursements. First off, the new team they are assigned to will reimburse the player for all such moving expenses. The player shall provide the team within a reasonable time following the assignment of the new contract with a written estimate of the proposed moving expenses. Once the team receives the estimate, they then have up to ten days to either agree with the written estimates or make alternative arrangements for the move of the player. For example, a "reasonable" moving expense would include one automobile for the player. If the player is married, then two automobiles may be included in the estimate. Any other automobiles will be a personal expense for the player.

 

The NBA also must provide hotel accommodations and/or housing reimbursements during the player's moving process. For instance, a player will be reimbursed for the cost of a hotel room in the assignee-team's home city for up to 46 days following the assignment. The hotel must be comparable to a hotel in which a team's players are lodged while "on the road". In terms of housing reimbursements, the assignee-team will reimburse the cost of the player's living quarters (Either rent or mortgage expenses) for up to three months upon the assignment and will not exceed $4,500 per month. The housing reimbursements will only be made if the player is legally obligated to such costs.

 

Of course prior to any reimbursing, the player must provide to the assignee-team satisfactory proof of all requested expenses that the player is legally obligated to pay such costs. The assignee-team then has the option to provide the reimbursements to the player or as an alternative, pay all expenses incurred directly to the persons, firms, or corporations involved.

 

NFL

 

In the NFL, moving and travel expenses are reimbursed not only if a player is traded but also if the team is relocated to a different home city or in the case that a player is assigned in an expansion allocation. To qualify for the moving expenses to be reimbursed, along with the aforementioned parameters, differ from veterans and rookies.  Any veteran player who is traded, claimed, or assigned before the first regular season game of the subsequent League Year qualifies. Any rookie player who is traded or claimed and makes the active roster of the team after the start of the regular season or is claimed before the first regular season game of the subsequent year qualifies for reimbursement.

 

Instead of providing a written estimate of the moving expenses like the NBA, the team will designate the moving company that will accomplish the moving for the player. If the player has a reasonable dissatisfaction with the designated moving company, he may look for two additional options who are established moving companies and provide the estimates to the team. The team can then select one of the substitutes. The reimbursement will include actual, ordinary, and reasonable moving expenses, and the travel expenses for him and his immediate family.

 

Any veteran player traded at any time during the League Year or any rookie traded or claimed and makes the active roster of the team after the start of the regular season will receive a first class round trip air fare for their travels. If they are married, their spouse will also receive the same amenities. If they choose not to fly, they will be given an equivalent amount of cash by another mode of transportation.

 

In terms of housing reimbursement, the NFL will only reimburse up to two months of rent or mortgage for living quarters in the home city of the team. The total amount of the reimbursement can also not exceed $7,250 in the 2017-2018 season. This reimbursement amount varies per season. They will also pay for the player to stay in a hotel but only up to 7 days and it is a hotel of the new team's choice in the home city.

 

MLB

 

In the MLB, the moving allowance can only be applied for a player that is traded after the sixteenth day prior to the start of the championship season, but on or before the first day of the Closed Period under Major League Rule. Similar to the other two leagues, the assignee-team will be responsible for most reimbursements of moving expenses.

 

The MLB travel expense is a bit different. Rather than paying for the flight, they provide the player with compensation for the amount of air miles the player will need to travel from the home city of his old team to the home city of the new team. The cash provided are as follows: $1,200 for 1,000 air miles or less traveled; $1,750 between 1,000 - 2,000 air miles traveled; and $2,200 for over 2,000 air miles traveled. If the player is traded to a team that is within 50 miles of the assignor-team's home city, he will not receive any reimbursement for travels. For air flights, the player can receive a reimbursement for him and his immediate family traveling by first-class jet air transportation.

 

Unlike the NBA and NFL, for living cost reimbursements, the assignor-team is the one responsible for reimbursing the player. There is also no specific amount that is stated in the CBA for how much the assignor-team must reimburse. It only states that the player will be reimbursed for the reasonable and actual rental payments for living quarters and furniture rental up to two months.

 

These three major sport leagues all have some sort of variance with the moving expense provisions in their CBAs. It is interesting to see why some leagues provide more reimbursements than others and the specific qualifications to be eligible for such reimbursements. All in all, the players are getting a reasonable reimbursement for their relocation process and the team's are not being taken advantage of from excessive expenditures.

 

Sources:

NBA CBA

NFL CBA

MLB CBA

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