It feels almost meaningless to discuss the money still remaining on the contract of Yordano Ventura, the 25-year-old Royals pitcher who was killed in a one-car crash early Sunday in his native Dominican Republic. But it’s obviously not meaningless to his family, which would be in line to receive the money—pending the results of a toxicology report.
Ventura is owed $19.85 million over the next three years, with a team option that carries an additional $1 million buyout. In almost all circumstances, baseball contracts are guaranteed, even in the case of the death of the player. One circumstance that would void Ventura’s contract: death in a drunk-driving incident.
Ventura’s deal includes a provision that will nullify payment for failure to perform due to injury or death resulting from driving a motorized vehicle while intoxicated, sources said.
(This appears to be a standard player-conduct provision, and not unique to Ventura’s contract.)
If Ventura’s death is found to be an accident, his remaining money would go to his estate. It’s unclear if he had a will, but beneficiaries could include his mother, and the mother of his only daughter. Insurance would partially reimburse the Royals for the roughly $20 million.
Officials responding to the scene of the car wreck, where Ventura’s Jeep broke through a guardrail and Ventura was ejected from the vehicle (he was not wearing a seatbelt), saw no signs of alcohol at the scene. A toxicology test that would reveal Ventura’s blood-alcohol level will be completed in about three weeks.
Ventura was leaving an outdoor festival in San Jose de Ocoa and crashed near the town of Juan Adrian, about 30 miles away. The stretch of road where Ventura crashed is mountainous, with a posted speed limit of 25 kph (about 15 mph).
Jacobo Mateo Moquete, a public information officer for the Commission on Military and Police for the Department of Public Works, told the Kansas City Star that speed may have been a factor.
“It’s an open road,” Mateo Moquete said in a phone interview. “It’s in excellent shape. But it does take you through a mountainous area, so you have to drive with caution.
“It has to be an issue of speed. It has all the characteristics of that. There’s nothing obstructing the view.”
Angela Martinez, mother of Ventura’s young daughter, told the Associated Press that Ventura was wary of speeding after his friend, Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras, killed himself and his girlfriend in a drunk-driving wreck in the Dominican in 2014.
Royals GM Dayton Moore said Royals officials believe foggy conditions may have also played a role in Ventura’s crash.
The Dominican Republic has one of the worst traffic fatality rates in the world. A number of factors are believed to contribute, including poor roads, economic and cultural factors, and lax alcohol and seat-belt laws.
A wake for Ventura was held Monday in the seaside town of Las Terrenas, near where he grew up. It took place in the home he bought when he first signed with the Royals, and was attended by friends, relatives, and dozens of kids from the youth baseball team Ventura played for as a boy. Ventura made it a point to practice with his old youth team every time he returned home.