Baseball union chief Tony Clark touched on a number of issues when he met with reporters at the Ed Smith Stadium spring training facility Saturday, but seemed particularly concerned about the way medical information is processed in the wake of free agent Yovani Gallardo’s renegotiated contract with the Orioles.
The Orioles have a history of putting free agents through rigorous physical evaluations, and the results of diagnostic tests on Gallardo’s shoulder led the club to negotiate a reduction in the number of guaranteed years from three to two. Clark’s concern centered on the impact of a health-related delay and the possible leakage of adverse medical information on the value of a player.
"Medical information shouldn't be public," Clark said. “There's a reason why individuals’ medical information is protected. The idea that those who shouldn't have access to it have access to it and feel compelled to offer it is a concern. … From my vantage point, it is irresponsible and something that we think affects the entire industry and not just the player involved. That's why I think it mutually makes sense to sit down and figure out perhaps there's a better way to do it."
There’s no easy solution, since teams need that information to justify guaranteed multiyear contracts and any delay in the completion of a physical would send up a red flag for other teams who might be interested in a particular player, regardless of whether a specific medical concern leaked out.
"I think there are some things related to protocol that are worth looking at," Clark said. “I think the time frame, I think those having access to information, I think perhaps even the physicals themselves -- any number of things are part of what needs to be looked at here, both in protection of the club and the player, everybody involved. Having public dialogue about a player's medical information and having [the public know] about a deal breaking down as a result of information that should not be public."
Clark said that the union was in the loop during the process that Gallardo went through. He did not say whether the union was consider any specific action related to the situation.
"We were connected to Gallardo and his representation throughout," he said. “Appreciating what happened, what may have happened and whether there are considerations beyond that to take into account, but that happens with every player, in particular every free-agent player who is going to be subject to a physical and who is going to have his medical information available to clubs who are interested in signing him.”