Ronald Blum of the Associated Press reports that Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are close to agreeing to expand active rosters to 26 players for the start of the 2020 regular season. This is in exchange for a commitment to discuss larger economic issues after Opening Day, which is later this month.
Additionally, September rosters would be lowered from 40 players to 28 players, beginning in 2020. This is done in part to help speed along the pace of September games, which tended to drag on because teams had many more relief pitching options and thus could afford to make plenty of pitching changes. Additionally, teams not in the playoff picture tended to play their young, inexperienced players even if the game technically mattered because it was being played with a team that was in the playoff hunt. As a result, certain teams that got lucky with their September schedules essentially got free wins down the stretch.
The union wants to discuss larger economic issues as the free agent market stagnated in recent years. While Bryce Harper and Manny Machado eventually got their money, A) it took them a lot longer than usual to actually reach an agreement, and B) lesser-skilled free agents are still on the market or settled for lesser contracts than they might have had to even just a few years ago. There are myriad reasons for free agency becoming what it is today and the union is hoping to address those reasons ahead of December 2021, when the collective bargaining agreement expires. The union is also aware of service time manipulation, so that may be another topic brought up.
Bobby Jenks was a key part of the 2005 world champion White Sox. By 2010, his effectiveness as a closer fell off and he signed with the Boston Red Sox for the 2011 season. He’d pitch in only 19 games that year, suffer a back injury and would never pitch again.
In the year or so after that, we heard that Jenks was arrested for driving under the influence. And then we heard that his back surgery was botched, and his baseball career was over. Then, after years of silence, we learned last spring that Jenks won $5.1 million in a medical malpractice suit against the doctor who performed his surgery.
We did not, however, know all the details until Bobby Jenks wrote about them at the Players’ Tribune this morning. This is must-click link stuff, folks.
Jenks talks about how a seemingly innocuous pitch to Jorge Posada in an early-season Red Sox-Yankees game in 2011 was the last pitch he’d ever throw. He talks about the presumably simple surgery that would supposedly get him back on the field. And then the scary complications in which he almost died due to leaking spinal fluid resulting from the botched surgery. Then, after using painkillers to deal with back pain, Jenks’ fell into drug addiction, all of which culminated in him finding himself half-naked and crazed in a car that didn’t belong to him with police and rescue workers surrounding him.
Jenks got clean but his wife left him. And then he mounted a multi-year lawsuit during which he learned that the reason his back surgery was screwed up was because the surgeon was performing two surgeries at one time, which is an apparently common practice called “concurrent surgery,” that sounds like it totally should NOT be a common practice.
Yet Jenks has survived. He’s been sober for over seven years and he seems to be in a good place. But boy did he have to go through something harrowing to get there. Definitely take the time to read it.