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The Positives and Negatives of the MLB's Pre-Draft MRI Screening

Austin Darrow | CNBNewsnet Imgres


The MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement has some major changes coming to the game. The free agent compensation has been overhauled and MLB players meal money has taken a hit.

All of the changes are making teams become more complex in doing business.

Another part of the CBA is the new MRI program for top 50 pitching prospects in the MLB Draft. The players will be asked to voluntarily get an MRI on their throwing arm.

The MLB Scouting Bureau determines who the top 50 players are. All the players must be registered by the MLBSB, and the responsibility falls on the Scouting Bureau to sign them up for the draft, not the players.

Teams have been trying to gain medical records about the players they’re considering drafting for the obvious reasons. They want to know as much as they possibly can before giving out money to that player.

At the same time, that information is confidential and players don’t want to give that out for obvious reasons.

There’s always a positive and a negative on issues in the CBA.


The 2014 MLB Draft started with the Houston Astros taking Brady Aiken at number one overall. The two agreed to a $6 million dollar deal, but at the MRI screening they had, Houston saw something in his elbow that scared them and reduced their offer substantially. Aiken walked away and ended up getting Tommy John the following spring.

Aiken was taken 17th overall the next season by the Cleveland Indians for $2.5 million less than Houston offered post-MRI.

Aikens decision to walk away from the offer, not only hurt him financially but also the Astros draft plans. Aiken agreed to a below-slot deal and Houston was going to use the rest on their fifth round pick (Jacob Nix), but when Aiken declined, the Astros lost the pool money and the money offered to Nix disappeared.

The Astros had a grievance filed against them by Nix because Houston went back on their handshake agreement.

The new MRI rule means situations like the Astros had to endure won’t happen to another team. Teams won’t have to risk their pool money on injured players.


The negatives are easier to find than the positives. The thing with MRI’s is that they’ll show pretty much everything in your arm and it can show something that has no effect on your arm in the future.

Every doctor sees different things in an MRI screening, that’s why second opinions are out there.

This is a lose-lose situation for the pitchers. If they decline the MRI screening, they're thought to be hiding something and they could possibly drop on the draft board. They go through with the screening and like most MRI’s it shows something minuscule that has no effect on them and teams are worried.

The only way a player wins is if the MRI comes back clean, but we all know how they go. Especially for a pitcher who has been pitching for 12-14 years. The arm isn’t going to be squeaky clean after 12-14 years of violent action on your arm.

The positives are more for the teams and help them so they don’t lose their draft pool money. Whereas the negatives are more on an individual player.

Big time agencies representing their players will probably have something to say about these screenings, but for the players, it’s a lose-lose situation and will most likely cost them money.