MLB's New Voluntary MRI Program: The Pros and Cons

mlb, baseball, MRI, voluntary MRI, pros and cons

The MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement is being thoroughly discussed in the sports and health news. The MLB draft has implemented a new program where the top 50 pitching prospects can voluntarily undergo an MRI.  The MRI scan is performed on their pitching arm since this is a common injury amongst pitchers. While this rule appears to be beneficial for both parties involved in the drafting process, it also presents a controversy.

Let's take a closer look.

When first reading about the new MRI rule, it may seem like a reasonable inquiry for teams to want to know if a draftee has any injuries that players are prone to hiding.  Specifically, when drafting pitchers, shoulders are prone to injury and who would want to draft an injured player? This pre-draft agreement has the word “voluntary” plastered all over it so this rule can’t possibly be harmful to players.

How is this controversial?

In actuality, this new program is controversial because it is seen to only benefit teams and not the actual players.  While the rule states that the MRI is “voluntary”, this word often has a different meaning in the sports world. Similarly, to how in the NFL specific practices are deemed “voluntary” yet not attending looks bad on behalf of the athlete, draftees opting out of an MRI may raise suspicion and lessen a pitchers chances of being drafted.

MRI scans can provide images regarding potential injuries in athletes and are commonly used when diagnosing these ailments.  The interpretation is based off the doctor viewing them and is not concrete when diagnosing injuries, which is another point of concern for draftees undergoing these voluntary MRI’s.

How do MRI's play an important role in Sports Medicine?

In sports medicine, MRI’s produce images that can confirm the diagnosis of various injuries including meniscus tears, ACL ruptures, and labrum tears.  MRI’s utilize magnetic fields and radio waves to produce images of the body that are not harmful to the body like x-rays can be.

The MLB draft’s new MRI program is being thoroughly discussed in the news and with good reason.  While their intentions seem to be beneficial for both teams and the athletes, this rule to allow draftees to voluntarily undergo a MRI is deemed a player-unfriendly rule that can lead to major changed in baseball and the drafting process. 

Here at Kerrville, we will be watching to see how this controversy unfolds.