Astros place Chacon on waivers
Team will not pay balance of $2M contract after confrontation
HOUSTON -- The Astros filed unconditional release waivers on pitcher Shawn Chacon Thursday, one day after general manager Ed Wade suspended Chacon indefinitely for insubordination.
Wade also confirmed during a Thursday press conference at Minute Maid Park that Chacon had shoved him to the floor prior to Wednesday's game but disputed Chacon's version of the events leading up to the altercation.
"Following batting practice on Wednesday I was on my way to the home clubhouse when a member of the media stopped me to tell me that Chacon had informed him that he wanted to be traded to a team where he could start and that his agent had informed us of his desire," Wade said. "Chacon also told the reporter that he would accept his unconditional release. I went on camera with that reporter and restated our position that we had no interest in trading him.
"Following the interview, I went to [Houston manager] Cecil Cooper's office in the clubhouse. Present were Coop and pitching coach Dewey Robinson. I told them of the media conversation and said that I would like to have a meeting with Chacon to clear the air. At that point, Dewey Robinson informed me that he had asked Chacon to throw a bullpen session during the game on Tuesday night and Chacon had ignored him. Then in the bottom of the ninth inning, with Jose Valverde pitching and closing out the game, Chacon got up on his own and threw a bullpen. Based on this information, I was even more convinced that a meeting was necessary and I asked Coop to arrange it while I returned upstairs to retrieve something from my briefcase."
When Wade returned to Cooper's office only the manager and Robinson were there.
"Coop informed me that Chacon refused to come to his office for a meeting, telling Coop that he had nothing to say to him and that he had no interest in coming to the office," Wade said.
Wade found Chacon in the clubhouse lunch room.
"I asked Chacon several times if I could speak with him," Wade said. "On each occasion he refused to meet with me, finally telling me anything I had to say to him could be said right there. At that point I told him if he wanted me to address him in front of his teammates I would. I told him that he needed to look at himself in the bleeping mirror.
"Up to that point, contrary to what has been previously stated, I did not raise my voice to the player, curse the player and had not made any defamatory remarks towards the player. Chacon responded with profane and threatening remarks and got up from his seat. He moved in front of me until we were chest to chest, and then he shoved me to the ground. When I attempted to get to my feet he shoved me a second time, at which point players and coaches intervened. After order was restored, I told him he was suspended and he eventually left the clubhouse. I then held a short meeting with the players."
Chacon did not return multiple phone messages left for him by MLB.com seeking comment on Wade's remarks. Chacon's agent, Dan Horwits, spoke on his behalf.
"As this process unfolds over the coming weeks there will be more facts that are revealed which will shed a little bit more light on the situation and the event that took place," agent Horwits said. "In Shawn's case it's not to say that physical confrontation was appropriate, it certainly wasn't. Shawn understands that."
"I did not curse the player, I did not make any derogatory comments towards the player, I didn't say anything negative towards the player whose personality or makeup or anything of that nature despite what has been reported," Wade said.
The Astros will not pay the approximately $1 million balance of the $2 million contract Chacon signed on Feb. 20. Waivers on Chacon will expire at noon CT on Monday, and if he is not claimed by another Major League team, his contract will be terminated without pay per the provisions of Rule 7(b), paragraphs (1) and (3) of the Uniform Player Contract.
Rule 7 (b) states: The club may terminate this contract upon written notice to the Player (but only after requesting and obtaining waivers of this contract from all other Major League clubs) if the player shall at any time.
Paragraph (1) states: Fail, refuse, or neglect to conform his personal conduct to the standards of good citizenship and good sportsmanship or to keep himself in first-class physical condition or to obey to the club's training rules.
Paragraph (3) states: Fail, refuse, or neglect to render his services hereunder or in any other matter materially breach his contract."
"If he clears waivers and at that point is not acquired by another club we will unconditionally release and terminate him without pay," Wade said. "I just wanted to make that clarification as to what exactly is going to happen on Monday if he's not claimed."
Astros owner Drayton McLane Jr. has been in touch with league officials regarding the matter.
"We've consulted with the Commissioner's Office today and they are fully in support of us invoking the clause that allows us to do that," McLane said.
Wade said he has no plans to file criminal charges.
"I spoke with his agent today and informed him we were beginning the process of giving him his unconditional release," Wade said. "He said, 'I appreciate the information.' "
McLane called the incident "very disappointing."
"Our goal has always been to be very accountable, very responsible and the type of players, management and leadership we have here be above reproach," McLane said. "In the 16 years we have accomplished that. I have personally been in business 48 years and have had thousands of employees that I have worked with under difficult conditions at times, and I've never, ever had any incident even close to this. Such a surprise and disappointment.
"I had a lengthy discussion with the Commissioner this afternoon and he completely supports the position we've taken," McLane said.
Chacon, 30, was 2-3 with a 5.04 ERA in 15 starts for the Astros in 2008.
"As an organization we believe we have fairly treated this player," Wade said. "His pattern of disrespect and defiance to me, the manager, the pitching coach and most importantly the organization led us to this decision."
Jim Molony is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.