Why don't teams give physicals to the players for whom they trade?

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We talked about this some in the offseason when J.J. Putz revealed that the Mets didn’t look at his bone spurs after trading for him last year, but here it is again: a team that didn’t give a physical to a player with an injury history at the time they traded for him.

The team is the Pirates. The player was Aki Iwamura, whom the Pirates snagged from the Rays last year.  Iwamura had previously undergone major knee surgery.  You’d think such a thing would be the primary issue in the trade. If Iwamura was healthy, he could be a serviceable player for the Pirates.  If not, you have given up a player of your own for a valueless guy.

But the Pirates didn’t check. According to team President Frank Coonelly the team didn’t even ask for a physical. Instead, they relied on scouting reports.  Of course, Iwamura was just DFA’d because he’s been awful, and he’s been awful in large part because his knee still bothers him immensely. Maybe they need to give their scouts portable MRI machines.

Coonelly says it’s uncommon for teams to request physicals for players for whom they trade.  Why?  Especially when the trade involves players coming off major surgery.  Free agent signings are usually accompanied by physicals, so why not trades? This isn’t a timing thing either, as Iwamura was traded during the offseason. There is no reason why doctors couldn’t have taken a gander at his knee.

Sometimes I accuse baseball teams of being pennywise and pound foolish. Not checking out the players you trade for isn’t even pennywise. What gives? 

Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.