It seems to happen two or three times a season for the Rays. The Rays will have a player coming off the disabled list, and rather than risk exposing a player to waivers, somebody will come down with what we affectionately refer to as a “sore left roster spot.” That is, the Rays may exaggerate, or even make up, an injury for the purpose of roster flexibility and to avoid losing players.
When this does happen, we often chuckle, and some will extol the “genius” of the Rays front office. Smart manipulation of the rules? Yep. A move only the Rays have mastered? Hardly.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe suggests the Red Sox recently took advantage of the DL…
When the Red Sox said Darnell McDonald had pulled a quad muscle, his reaction — “no comment’’ — spoke volumes. It was an indication that the injury hardly warranted placing him on the 15-day disabled list with a 20-day rehab assignment...McDonald wasn’t limping, and it just seemed as if the Sox wanted him to get some playing time because Mike Cameron was eating up all the extra outfield reps off the bench.
Cafardo goes on to add that he is not picking on the Red Sox, because, “things such as this are happening all around baseball.”
The question then is: Why doesn’t Major League Baseball do anything about it?
The answer may be as simple as “money.”
In today’s game of specialization, and matchups, and six-inning starting pitchers, it would seem that the 25-man roster is outdated. But expanding the roster means, at the very least, adding another $414 thousand player on a full-time basis. Why do that, if the teams can just add a player on a part-time basis.
So while teams use the DL as a 26th man, it is still cheaper than actually hiring a 26th man.