Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association are going to discuss the idea of adding a draft combine in the upcoming negotiations, hoping to obtain aspiring players’ medical information, that will help avoid problems like the one that happened with the number one pick last year, Major League sources told Yahoo Sports.
We’re talking about Brady Aiken’s case, who was chosen by the Houston Astros with the first pick, and remains
unsigned after a dispute over his ulnar collateral ligament. He also became a Tommy John surgery casualty just a few days ago. That’s something that made both Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association consider the benefits of this system.
Of course, this won’t be easy and it will spark debate in what is expected to be a heated topic in the upcoming negotiations, which are set to begin at the end of this year. The league is hoping they can strike a deal on the collective bargaining agreement before the current one expires on December 1, 2016. One source came up with an scenario in which the best 150 players or a number of top prospects, undergo MRIs and take other medical tests before being confirmed healthy by the league. Others aim to have a big combine with physical tests such as the 60-yard dash, radar tested throwing speed and for pitchers, to have bullpen sessions with MRIs sent to all teams in the league.
Aiken and Astros
This is a good idea for teams because they never want to be involved in situations like these, but it brings fear to future MLB players. who say this gives teams critical information that could end up affecting their future.
Using a good team of doctors seems like the best idea and one that will assure teams don’t find themselves in a situation like that of the Astros and Aiken, where the Astros had doubts about his ability to pitch later on in his career and halved their initial contract offer and eventually saw the talented player decline a $5 million deal.
In baseball’s battle against injuries, especially arm ones, information is very important, and adding a few amateur arms into its database could allow the league and its partners to study a small sample of players from before their careers begin to the very end. The more data the league has the more chances they have to know what causes UCL injuries and how to prevent them.
If the league had something like this, Aiken’s case could have been easily avoided. Predraft MRI examination would be the combine’s attraction, especially with the high amount of arm injuries young prospects are suffering. Brady Aiken is now the third pick among the top 18 in last year’s MLB draft to undergo a UCL replacement. That’s almost 20 percent of the 18 picked.
The combine is coming in with little attention and all eyes will be set on an international draft, but it already has the support of many teams. There are only two problems; the draft is done early June during the College World Series, eliminating the possibility of testing every high ranked player. In addition to, the MLB would have to come up with some kind of agreement with the NCAA for the players to receive treatment if they need one.