Is baseball experiencing an outbreak of anxiety disorders, or is it something else?

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The Wall Street Journal takes note of all of the anxiety cases this year:

Three professional baseball players have landed on the disabled list
this season for a problem they can’t ice, bandage or have surgically
repaired: anxiety . . . Baseball’s anxious include Detroit pitcher
Dontrelle Willis, St. Louis Cardinals shortstop Khalil Greene and
Cincinnati first baseman Joey Votto, who all spent weeks on the
disabled list spring for mental-health issues. Mr. Willis, who returned
to the lineup in May, was placed on disabled status again in mid-June
for anxiety.

I’m not sure what to make of all of the anxiety problems this year, but
part of me thinks that not all of them are technically social anxiety
disorders. Rather, I suspect that they’re all lumped together as
“anxiety disorders” because Zack Greinke sort of made the term “anxiety
disorder” acceptable in baseball circles by going through and
subsequently overcoming what he went though, whereas depression or any
number of other specific neurosis remain new and scary in this
historically-conservative world. Don’t get me wrong; by all accounts,
Votto and Khalil Greene’s situations were serious, and I’m not
dismissing them. I’m just saying that, based on what they’ve revealed
about their problems, things like depression or any number of other
neurosis seem plausible too. Ultimately my point here isn’t to diagnose
anything (I’m not qualified to do that). It’s just to suggest that
maybe what’s happening is a greater willingness among baseball players
to be up front about psychological problems in general as opposed to
their being some sudden and inexplicable outbreak of social anxiety
disorder. If so, that’s a very good thing.

That said, I and others have voiced some skepticism about Willis,
mostly because (a) even after his alleged diagnosis he said he felt
great and that his only problem was that he couldn’t pitch; and (b) the
“anxiety” only seemed to come up when the Tigers needed to move Willis
off the active roster to bring in a productive player. I think there
have been a lot of disabled list shenanigans this year–amazingly,
Boston’s Dice-K got injured at just the perfect time to solve the Red
Sox’ roster logjam — and it wouldn’t surprise me if Willis’ were
another example of it.

Yankees trade Chase Headley, Bryan Mitchell to the Padres for Jabari Blash

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The New York Yankees have traded third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash. Joel Sherman of the New York Post was the first to report the trade. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first to report that Blash was coming back in return.

Headley, a third baseman, hit .273/.352/.406 for the Yankees last year. He, of course, played for the Padres from 2007 through the middle of 2014, when he was dealt to New York. Mitchell has pitched 48 games for the Yankees, most from the pen, over four seasons, with an ERA of 4.94 in 98.1 innings. He doesn’t strike out many and he walks a lot. He throws hard.

Blash, an outfielder, has hit .200/.323/.336 with eight homers in 279 big league plate appearances. Blash has shown a lot of power potential in the minors, but has not yet put it together in the bigs. Given what the Yankees have in their outfield at the moment, he’s going to be organizational depth or, perhaps, a chit in a future trade.

This would seem to be an exercise in salary clearing by the Yankees in anticipation of another move, as it takes about $13 million off of their payroll. Which is about how much was added to their payroll for 2018 in the Giancarlo Stanton deal. That could get Todd Frazier back for them, perhaps. Or it could help them retain CC Sabathia or go after another starting pitcher. The club likewise maintains an interest in getting under the $197 million payroll threshold which would trigger yet another year of 50% luxury tax payments for the Yankees.