With ‘summer camp’ about to get under way, MLB.com’s transactions log is back up and running. As of this writing, two teams have placed players on the injured list: the Phillies and Blue Jays. For the Phillies, Héctor Neris, Tommy Hunter, Ranger Suárez, and Scott Kingery are on the 10-day IL. The Blue Jays have Brandon Drury, Jonathan Davis, Hector Perez, and Elvis Luciano DL’ed. None of the players have reasons listed for their appearance, so speculation about which players might have the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has ensued.
On Tuesday, I discussed the tricky spot MLB teams are in regarding disclosure of players affected by COVID-19. Due to the Basic Agreement, teams aren’t allowed to disclose their players’ medical issues if they aren’t employment-related (consider a cancer diagnosis versus a torn UCL). The lack of transparency — whether for nefarious reasons or not — for COVID-IL players will simply invite rampant speculation, and that is what we have seen early on. Fans and members of the media alike are wondering which players, if not all of them, are suffering from the virus. Since a player’s placement on the IL typically comes with a reason for said placement, it won’t be difficult to parse which players are there for COVID-19 and which are not.
The most important thing is that players have privacy and control over their medical information. That being said, the highly public and competitive nature of their jobs has resulted in transparency regarding their medical information. One wonders if the headaches caused by the speculation might result in the current policy being amended. Players could have generic reasons listed for their placement, or teams could simply reveal which players have COVID-19. There isn’t an easy fix, but the current system doesn’t appear to be the solution.