So apparently the consensus is that A-Rod should commit insurance fraud. Lovely.

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UPDATE: Rosenthal has updated his column, making it clear that he’s not advocating insurance fraud. Rather, he’s talking about the possibility that A-Rod may not be able to come back absent the PEDs he’s been allegedly taking these past several years. I get that distinction, but I don’t think it changes the calculus much. Insurance companies would still fight any permanent disability claim tooth and nail, seeing them as matters born of opportunity, not of his actual physical condition.

8:31 AMIn the last post we saw Darren Rovell suggest that A-Rod and the Yankees commit insurance fraud. I figured, well, that’s just Rovell being Rovell. He tweets a lot of off-the-wall things.  But apparently he’s not alone on the Insurance Fraud Express. Rosenthal goes there this morning:

The Yankees probably cannot void Alex Rodriguez’s contract, and they might not even need to try. A-Rod just might void himself. Specifically, Rodriguez might find a doctor who says he is suffering from a career-ending injury, collect the $114 million remaining on his contract and never play again … A-Rod can attempt to go through his rehabilitation, then make the case that he is physically unable to perform. A doctor surely could make such a diagnosis quite plausible, given the weakened condition of Rodriguez’s two hips.

Absolutely no one was suggesting that A-Rod’s career was over this time yesterday morning.  This is 100% inspired by the bad P.R. created by the Miami New Times story. To say it’s “plausible” that a doctor could be found to say that A-Rod is done as a baseball player is the sort of thing ambulance-chasing lawyers who are ambivalent about insurance fraud say.  Sure, of course you could find a doctor to say that, I suppose. But it has to actually be true, not “plausible.”

Any insurance company that would be on the hook for A-Rod’s disability claim is ten steps ahead of any columnist baking up such schemes this morning.  They have read the December report from A-Rod’s own surgeon in which he said that A-Rod had less cartilage damage than expected than that “his rehab has the highest chance of successfully getting back to the level with his hip that he was before his hip started hurting.”  They have also read the reports since yesterday in which the Yankees are portrayed as looking for any way possible to get out from under the $114 million he’s owed.  They will fight and fight hard against any claim that A-Rod is permanently disabled, especially given that all of this talk about his alleged permanent disability magically popped up on some Tuesday morning when A-Rod became far more unpopular than he was previously.

Everyone, back away from the ledge. Stop suggesting that A-Rod’s situation is any different than any other ballplayer busted for PEDs.  The only difference is that (a) A-Rod is owed a lot more money than most of them; and (b) A-Rod is a lot less popular than most of them.  That’s it. And that is all that is inspiring this talk of voiding deals or committing felony insurance fraud so the New York Yankees don’t have to pay him anymore.

Agent: Nick Senzel’s reassigment “egregious case of service time manipulation”

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Reds prospect Nick Senzel is ready for the majors. Although he battled injuries, the 23-year-old performed well with Triple-A Louisville last season, batting .310/.378/.509 with 20 extra-base hits, 25 RBI, 23 runs scored, and eight stolen bases in 193 plate appearances. Senzel has also performed well this spring, batting .308 across 39 at-bats.

The Reds, however, announced on Friday that Senzel was among a handful of players reassigned to minor league camp. Senzel was drafted as a third baseman, began playing second base last year, and had been playing in center field during spring training. The common thought is that the Reds, who have built a competitive roster, will keep Senzel at Triple-A to begin the season and call him up right after the club secures an extra year of contractual control.

Per ESPN’s Jeff Passan, Senzel’s agent Joel Wolfe calls Senzel’s reassignment an “egregious case of service time manipulation.” The full quote:

I don’t believe I’ve ever made public statements on this issue in my career, but I feel compelled to do so in this case where it feels like a simply egregious case of service time manipulation.

We are well aware of the mandate from ownership for the Reds to win this year — and this seems to fly in the face of it. The NL Central was decided by one game last year. Every game matters. This is a shortsighted move that may be frugal now but could cost them dearly later.

Nick Senzel is not a young prospect. He’s a major league-ready impact-type player. He has done everything they’ve asked this spring, including working hard to become a major league center fielder.

Nick takes pride in wearing the Reds uniform. He appreciates how much support he’s received from Reds fans. He’s going to go to Triple-A and prove every day he belongs in MLB.

We have covered the service time manipulation issue pretty extensively here, so Wolfe’s statement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Prior to an injury, the Blue Jays were going to undeservingly stuff Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. — baseball’s No. 1 prospect — at Triple-A for the first two weeks or so of the season. The White Sox were going to do the same with Eloy Jiménez before using their leverage to nudge him into inking an extension. The Braves toyed with Ronald Acuña Jr.’s playing time last year. Kris Bryant and Maikel Franco filed respective grievances against the Cubs and Phillies for service time manipulation several years ago.

Team executives don’t outright admit to gaming a prospect’s service time to gain that extra year of control because that’s how one loses a grievance. They dance around the topic by making a nebulous claim, typically about the player’s defense needing to be worked on at Triple-A. That’s what the Cubs said about Bryant, and it’s what the Jays said about Guerrero. It’s a subjective enough evaluation that it can’t be falsified. It’s why the grievances that have been filed over this have fizzled out and it’s why more and more teams have brazenly joined the service time manipulation bandwagon.

Senzel’s case is, admittedly, a bit more murky. Though he performed well this spring, Scott Schebler has outperformed him, batting .379 with five extra-base hits and 11 walks in roughly 40 trips to the plate. The starting spot in right field is taken by Yasiel Puig and left field is taken by Jesse Winker. Schebler has ostensibly earned the starting job in center. I can’t imagine Wolfe having a compelling case if he were to file a grievance on Senzel’s behalf.

That being said, it is important that agents (and the MLBPA) speak out about this when they can. Senzel’s case may not be open-and-shut, but bringing service time manipulation into the public consciousness will have a lasting impact ahead of the December 2021 expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. Holding team executives publicly accountable may make them less willing to manipulate their players’ service time going forward, as it may sour what could otherwise be a terrific relationship between team and player. Service time manipulation is an important piece of the labor puzzle and those on the players’ side have to seize whatever they can to potentially gain leverage. Awareness leads to solidarity.