One of the changes brought forth by the 2016 Collective Bargaining Agreement was the reduction of the minimum disabled list stay from 15 days to ten days. At the time this seemed like a win-win. If they only faced being out ten days rather than 15, players would be under less pressure to play through an injury. Likewise, teams would be less likely to play shorthanded while injuries were assessed.
Then a funny thing happened: teams began to use the DL as a means of cycling pitchers on and off the roster, allowing them to bring in fresh arms with greater frequency. The result: a significant increase in the amount of players used, particularly relief pitchers. Bullpenning strategies that have developed over the past couple of years have been greatly aided by a shorter DL stay. Such strategies, in turn, have contributed to a reduction in offense.
Which leads to today’s report from Ronald Blum of the Associated Press:
Major League Baseball has proposed going back to a 15-day disabled list and increasing the time optioned players usually must spend in the minor leagues, a person familiar with the negotiations tells The Associated Press, moves aimed at reducing the use of relief pitchers and reviving offense.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Wednesday because the plans were not publicly announced.
It’s a balance, I suppose. Will such a thing encourage teams trying to get guys to play through injuries more than it’ll help revive offense and suppress pitching dominance? I dunno. I don’t suspect anyone can say they know for sure. I do know that some of the injuries for which guys have been DL’d in recent years have seemed . . . less than ominous sounding. A lot of “finger contusions” just after a couple of extra inning games and a stretch of ten games without a day off.
Sorry, I realize we have a reputation for having sharp opinions on this sort of thing, but I’m having a hard time developing one here. If I had to choose I’d say it’s worth going back to the 15-day if, for no other reason, than to stop front offices from taking advantage of something designed to deal with injuries to gain a competitive advantage.