MLB To Standardize Medical Information Disclosure

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.—Major League Baseball chief legal officer Dan Halem said Wednesday that MLB intends to introduce a formal standard specifying exactly what medical information must be disclosed by teams in trade discussions.

Halem, speaking to reporters at the annual GM meetings, highlighted the issue of medical records being exchanged as one of the main topics discussed during the meetings.

“We’ve talked about medical records given the issues we had this season,” Halem said, “and I think we’re going to focus on trying to do even a better job of standardizing that process when clubs exchange records. General managers received an update on that whole process.”

In September, MLB suspended Padres general manager A.J. Preller for 30 days after ruling he failed to disclose relevant medical information to the Red Sox in the trade of lefthander Drew Pomeranz to Boston for righthanded pitching prospect Anderson Espinoza.

Another Padres trade with the Marlins was modified after pitcher Colin Rea, traded from San Diego to Miami in a seven-player deal, suffered a torn UCL after his first start with the Marlins. Rea was sent back to the Padres in exchange for righthander Luis Castillo, who was part of the original trade.

“This is kind of an area where we’ve been moving each year since we adopted the electronic medical records . . . to get more consistency and standardization across clubs,” Halem said. “It was largely left to a committee of athletic trainers to determine the types of records each club should maintain and how to maintain them. We’re going to formalize it a little more and contemplate pushing for guidance in terms of what has to be in and what has to be out. Just make sure everybody has confidence in the system.”

The idea of a formal standard was met positively by general managers at the meetings.

“I think it’s imperative really,” Marlins GM Michael Hill said. “We’re all just trying to do our job and that will be the expectation. When it happened and we sent Rea back and got Castillo back, it was the best thing to do to turn the page and move forward with what had happened. Thinking back on it, the expectation is that you’re getting information and making an informed decision. Our jobs are difficult, we just want to have the opportunity to make informed decisions and have all the information in front of us.”

Preller stated his support as well.

“I think in terms of Major League Baseball they do a great job of setting from the central office, for all teams to know, exactly what the standards are (and) what the guidelines are,” he said. “From that standpoint, we welcome that and go from there.”

General managers not affiliated with disputed trades this season were also on board with a formal standard.

“I think there absolutely is a need,” Dodgers GM Farhan Zaidi said. “That’s not really an area in most people’s mind where teams should be trying to glean any sort of competitive advantage. That almost seems like it should be a fundamental, standard, regulated part of the industry. I think there’s been a lot of progress the last few years and I think it will continue to be a thing.”

Halem did not provide a timetable for when formal standards may be introduced.

“I think this was coming irrespective of the issues we had this season,” Halem said. “But I do think it’s a good change given that clubs really rely on the integrity of the records they receive from other clubs in making trades or signing free agents. So anything we can do to give them more confidence is a good thing.”

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