Details about baseball’s newly minted collective bargaining are still trickling out, and here’s a shitty one:
This might not seem like a big deal—why wouldn’t teams want to know as much as possible about the players they might draft? And, hey, it’s voluntary!—but such a program only serves the interests of team owners that want to have even more leverage when it comes to trying to cheap out on new draftees.
Teams have been after MRI results (which constitute private medical data!) of incoming amateurs (who don’t work for the team or for MLB!) for years now, and the reason they want them is so that they can point to structural irregularities revealed by the MRI while at the negotiating table. This is exactly what the Astros did when they tried to use a “significant abnormality” in the elbow of top pick Brady Aiken as a tool with which to dick Aiken out of a big chunk of his signing bonus. Under this new program, every top pitching prospect will be in danger of having his MRI results thrown in his face and used as a reason why he shouldn’t be paid what he’s worth.
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(And let’s dispense with the idea that this program will be at all voluntary. Any prospect who refuses to submit to it will surely be accused of trying to hide a serious injury, which will effectively give the team just as much leverage as an actual MRI result would have.)
The other problem here is that MRI scans don’t exactly provide concrete information, but rather images that are subject to the interpretation of whatever doctor is looking at them. Anyone who has spent their high school and college years throwing off a mound is all but guaranteed to have some structural damage in his elbow and shoulder, and a lot of perfectly healthy future big-league pitchers are in line for smaller paydays.