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Week in Transactions: Thinking about the new 10-day disabled list

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With no major move this week, I take a look at the new 10-day disabled list.

Atlanta Braves v New York Mets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

It’s usually a very good thing when I don’t have many transactions to cover in this space, as that means that everyone stayed healthy this week. The one move that happened was the one that activated Jason Kipnis and sent Yandy Diaz to Columbus, and I covered that last week.

With Kipnis’ activation, that means there are no Indians on the 10-day disabled list, and just one Indian on the 60-day DL (Cody Anderson, who is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery).

So, with no real roster news to talk about, I thought I’d use this article about the 10-day disabled list as a jumping-off point to talk about the future use (or abuse) of disabled lists in MLB.

In the past teams have utilized the 15-day disabled list as a way to rest a player (without an injury keeping him from playing), and with a shorter minimum stay, that means the temptation to use the DL as either an innings limiter or as way to get a player off his feet for a week is greater than ever. Want to skip a starting pitcher for a start if the pitcher doesn’t have any options remaining? Place him on the 10-day DL the day after his previous start, call up a reliever for the next four days, send down a reliever in favor of a spot starter, call up another reliever for the remainder of the 10 days. In effect, the series of moves gives you an 8-man bullpen for nine of the ten days. Now, if a team had an option on that pitcher, they could have just sent him to the minors for 10 days, but then the minor-league team would be inconvenienced because he’d be on the active roster but not pitching.

We’ll have to see how this plays out over the course of the season, when you’ll have more players get those minor ailments that would, in previous years, result in them staying on the active roster but not play in games. The two Indians players placed on the 10-day DL to begin the season would have been placed on the 15-day DL last year, the only difference being that Lonnie Chisenhall would have had to wait an extra series to return to the lineup. MLB has said that it would more closely scrutinize the reasoning clubs give for placing a player on the DL, and they may stop the obvious shenanigans, but I think in most situations they’ll side with the club. During the season, most players have at least one minor ailment they play through, and could be used to justify a DL stint.

One alternative way MLB could allow clubs more flexibility without having to micro-manage their medical staff is to allow teams to set aside inactive players before each game. The NBA and NHL does something like this, and the NBA even allows inactive players to also participate in the NBA Development League. Should the owners agree to expand the active roster (I would assume the players would be in favor of any kind of roster expansion), they could implement something similar to NBA/NHL system, with a 21 or 22-man gameday roster in addition to 5 or 6 players identified before each game as inactive, whether healthy or injured. If you’re thinking this would give Terry Francona a perfect opportunity to go with a 10-man bullpen, you’d be right, so I would also include a maximum number of pitchers allowed to be active for each game. That would allow the “short” disabled list to go back to 15 days or longer, and make it easier for clubs to give a key player playing through an injury a much-needed day off. It also would cut down on the September roster bloat.

Latest 25-man/40-man Rosters

April 28 2017

Jose Ramirez has been outstanding over the past couple of weeks, and Yan Gomes has begun to hit to the point where he’s close to having a break-even WAR.

On the Rule 5 front, Anthony Santander is still on the DL, and he hasn’t even gone on a rehab assignment yet.