The Padres and Mets sure have created a stir in baseball with how they have managed injuries on their teams. With the drama that started last season with the Padres and how the Mets have dealt with injuries to two of their biggest stars, it begs the question: what does this mean for the rest of baseball? For those of you that are not familiar with the current situation, let’s review.
Last summer, 2016, the San Diego Padres were out of contention. They had splurged the previous offseason, spending big on James Shields and trading the farm for Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, and Craig Kimbrel. With those players being traded or moving on via free agency, the Padres were in full rebuild mode. One of the biggest bright spots on the team was left-handed starter Drew Pomeranz, who was named an NL All-Star and was carving up opposing lineups. With the Padres season going down the tubes, Pomeranz was their best trade chip.
Now, enter Padres GM A.J. Preller, who was willing to take risks and not fully disclose the injury history of his players to teams interested in making trades with the Padres. It was the Red Sox who ended up with Pomeranz, and they received damaged goods. Preller was hit with a fine and a 30-day suspension for his actions. MLB also laid out new rules for how teams were to disclose information about player health to other organizations when dealing with trades and free agent signings.
Fast forward now to this spring and the 2017 season for the New York Mets. The Mets have had major issues with both the front office and the dugout in managing player health. The most glaring issue has been with flame-throwing ace Noah Syndergaard. After reporting that there was pain under the armpit of his throwing arm, he refused to get an MRI to determine if there was any damage. He missed a start and then said he was completely healthy. During his next start against the Nationals, he left the game in obvious pain and after a MRI it was determined that Syndergaard had a tear in his right lat. He will be sidelined for most if not all of the season. Combine that with the recent re-injury to star outfielder Yoenis Cespedes and the recent setback in the rehab of third baseman David Wright, and the Mets have a mess on their hands. The organization has even taken the words out of manager Terry Collins’ mouth and will not allow him to speak about injuries to Met’s players.
While the Padres and Mets seem like they have completely different situations, it all ties together about an overarching problem in the game. How do teams react to players being hurt and how do they properly disclose that information both to Major League Baseball and to other teams? The most important thing to realize is that every team has a different way to handle this. There are not broad overarching rules and regulations that apply across the board. A lot of this is because each team is affiliated with different doctors and hospitals and each team prefers different methods based on who is in charge of what departments. This, however, needs to change.
With so much at risk for both players and organizations when it comes to player health, there is no excuse as to why there are not rules as to how to address them. Recently, you have seen players defy their organizations’ requests to get MRIs and instead seek a second opinion independently. Some even lie about their health in order to stay on the field. On the flip side, some organizations rush players back only to see them get hurt again, fail to disclose all health information when making trades with other teams, and–in the case of the Mets–refuse to discuss injuries with the media.
The practices of both players and organizations when dealing with injuries is hurting the game of baseball. No matter how much protesting there is from players and teams, Major League Baseball must step in and put rules in place that properly discloses health information between players and teams. Without that, they rob baseball of some of the games best players and ruin the trust between fans and the game.