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? 

Gallegos agrees to 2-year, $11M contract with Cardinals

Atlanta Braves v St. Louis Cardinals
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ST. LOUIS – Reliever Giovanny Gallegos and the St. Louis Cardinals agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract, a deal that includes a club option for 2025 and escalators that could make it worth $20.5 million over three seasons.

The 31-year-old right-hander is 3-5 with a 2.91 ERA and 14 saves in 20 chances this season. He has 72 strikeouts and 15 walks in 58 2/3 innings.

“I feel so happy,” Gallegos said before the Cardinals played the Pirates in Pittsburgh. “I don’t have the word for exactly how I’m feeling.”

He was obtained from the Yankees in July 2018 along with left-hander Chasen Shreve in the trade that sent first baseman Luke Voit to New York. Gallegos is 14-15 with a 3.02 ERA and 34 saves in six major league seasons.

Gallegos gets a $500,000 signing bonus and salaries of $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2024. St. Louis has a $6.5 million team option for 2025 with a $500,000 buyout.

His 2025 option price can increase by up to $3.5 million for games finished in 2024: $500,000 each for 20-25 and 26-30 and 31-35, and $1 million apiece for 36-40 and 41 or more.

He would get $250,000 for winning the Rivera/Hoffman reliever of the year award, $50,000 for All-Star selection and World Series MVP and $25,000 for League Championship Series MVP.

Gallegos has a $2.41 million salary this year.

He was eligible for salary arbitration and is potentially eligible for free agency after the 2024 season.