MLB Reportedly Wants to Crack Down on DL Manipulation

The new 10-day disabled list could make it easier for MLB teams to manipulate their roster structure, but the league office may be implementing new policies to monitor players placed on the DL.

Like most professions, MLB teams often find themselves looking to maximize efficiency even when available resources are tight. With the disabled list always an option for teams, it’s only natural that a team will send a non-vital player without minor league options to the disabled list, rather than lose him to the waiver process.

The most common scenario is when a team is short on relievers and sends a starter to the DL with a phantom injury for the minimum 10-day DL stay. Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal reported that Boston Red Sox manager John Farrell believes MLB is looking to crack down on teams who manipulate the DL.

“With it just being 10 days, I think the DL will be scrutinized even greater to try to control that,” Farrell said via MacPherson. “I think there’s going to be doctor documentation required for every move that’s made to the DL.  On the surface, it looks like it could be manipulated.  But I think the backup evidence is going to be much more in-depth.”

There’s no official word from MLB yet, but with the new minimum 10-day DL stint in place, MLB could look to require more documentation from teams when a player is placed on the DL. With the 10-day DL, a team could place a non-essential starter on the DL, call up a reliever for four days, then replace him with a starter, and call up a reliever for the remaining four days of the original starter’s DL stint.

It’s unclear exactly what type of documentation the league would require, but it’s certain that the league is looking to move away from the traditional tight-lipped culture pertaining to injuries. Last year, San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller was suspended for failing to provide sufficient information about Drew Pomeranz‘s injury history in a trade with the Boston Red Sox.

Farrell said the new DL structure can change the way teams approach their pitching staffs throughout the season.

“For a starter, now you’d be missing one start,” Farrell said via MacPherson. “With the 15-day DL, you’re missing that guy – and it’s likely that previously, with the 15-day DL you’re probably looking at one rehab start, so it extends even further. Now, you drop it back to 10 days, if there’s an off-day in those 10 days, you’re missing one start.”

However, MLB will likely be stricter in its DL requirements. More information will likely be revealed closer to Opening Day, but the first minor injury of the season will likely be worth monitoring.

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