Zachary Lutz Hopes for Home Run in Suit Against Japanese Team over Abandoned Contract
On August 30, 2017, former New York Mets player Zachary Lutz filed a lawsuit in Pennsylvania federal court against the owners of the Japanese baseball team, Rakuten Golden Eagles, for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, and promissory estoppel for their sudden abandonment of his negotiated contract. Lutz debuted with the New York Mets in 2012, and in 2014 he decided to sign a contract with the Golden Eagles for the 2014 season, which spanned from June 2014 to November 2014. As the end of the 2014 season approached, Lutz and the Golden Eagles were negotiating a contract for the 2015 season.
Near the end of November 2014, Lutz and his agents agreed on the terms of the one year contract for 2015, which would include a $700,000 base salary, $900,000 in incentive bonuses, and tens of thousands of dollars in additional benefits. Lutz officially signed the contract in December 2014, and relied on that contract in his and his wife’s purchase of a new house in Pennsylvania. However, the Golden Eagles suddenly refused to sign the contract and signed American baseball player Gaby Sanchez instead.
Lutz remained on the reserve list and in talks with the Golden Eagles until January 2015, at which point it was too late for Lutz to find a better deal. During the time of the negotiations, Lutz missed out on the opportunity to contract with another team in the Pacific League, the ORIX Buffaloes, because he was unable to negotiate with any other professional teams. Ultimately, the Golden Eagles refused to sign Lutz, and Lutz alleges this caused him to be forced to sign with South Korea’s Doosan Bears for a lesser value. With the Doosan Bears, Lutz had a salary of $550,000 and no bonuses or benefits. Shortly after signing with the Doosan Bears, Lutz returned to the Mets. Lutz seeks money damages for losses suffered from the Golden Eagles’ actions and failure to sign the contract.