It was announced today that Joel Hanrahan would need Tommy John surgery. Again. Soon after that the Tigers announced that they had released Hanrahan. Which got me wondering “so, who pays for his surgery now?”
This is stuff covered by the Collective Bargaining Agreement and the minor league Uniform Player Contract. But it’s been too many years since I examined legal documents and I’m lazy, so I asked someone who works with these things for a living about it all. The upshot:
Usually, even with a released player, the team he was with when diagnosed will pay for the surgery. That’s the Tigers. Occasionally, however, a team will try to say that the injury originally occurred with a previous team and make an effort to get that team to pay. The Tigers, I understand, aren’t petty like that and will most likely will pay.
Teams pay the cost of surgery directly. It does not go through the player’s health insurance. However, released players do have to rehab privately, and that rehab is paid through the player’s insurance. Said insurance is private insurance provided via the Collective Bargaining Agreement and administered by the MLBPA. A player in Hanrahan’s position is also eligible for worker’s comp since they’re unemployed.
This is Regulation 2 of the major league Uniform Player Contract which covers such things for big leaguers:
And here is the minor league provision, which actually applies to Hanrahan given that he was on a minor league deal:
The more you know: