What happens to the MLB contract if the player is injured during the WBC? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago
It was Major League Baseball’s worst nightmare come true at the World Baseball Classic.
A star player on a World Series contending team, fresh from signing a nine-figure contract, suffers a potential season-ending injury roughly two weeks before Opening Day.
That means the New York Mets will be without their All-Star closer Edwin Diaz, who will reportedly miss the entire 2023 season after suffering a torn patellar tendon in his right knee on Wednesday.
Despite the bizarre nature of the injury, which occurred during a celebration following Puerto Rico’s victory over the Dominican Republic, it has led some to question the timing and necessity of the World Baseball Classic.
It has also raised concerns about whether highly compensated players who are vital to the success of teams that pay their salaries should be at risk of injury when technically not on duty.
The loss of the player, of course, is a greater cost than the salary itself.
Most of the injuries sustained during the World Baseball Classic are covered by insurance, which will likely protect the Mets financially for the $19.65 million they owe Diaz this upcoming season.
Here’s how the insurance process works for players competing in the World Baseball Classic…
What happens when a player is injured during the World Baseball Classic?
There’s a reason Los Angeles Dodgers star pitcher Clayton Kershaw isn’t playing in the World Baseball Classic despite expressing a desire to.
His insurance was denied.
According to Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times, a premium is negotiated with an insurance company that covers WBC players who are on MLB’s 40-man rosters. Players who compete in the tournament are required to undergo physicals, and their medical records are reviewed by an underwriter. Each player is then considered “insurable” at that premium or “uninsurable.”
A player injured during the World Baseball Classic receives his full guaranteed MLB salary, which the insurance company reimburses his team for lost time.
A player is determined to be “uninsurable” for a variety of reasons, castle informsincluding having a “chronic condition” based on injury history or having spent considerable time on the disabled list the season prior to the WBC.
Kershaw, 34, who has been prone to injury during his Hall of Fame career, was deemed “uninsurable.” That meant that if Kershaw participated in the World Baseball Classic and suffered an injury, the Dodgers would be responsible for the time he missed under his $20 million, one-year contract signed in December.
The Dodgers didn’t waive Kershaw’s insurance requirement the way the Detroit Tigers did with Miguel Cabrera, 39, and his $32 million salary, according to Castillo. That led Kershaw to try to pursue, and fail to win, his own insurance claim that would have covered his MLB salary if he had suffered an injury during the WBC.
Will Edwin Diaz be paid for the 2023 season?
Yes, even if Diaz misses the entire season, his MLB contract is guaranteed.
Assuming the insurer deemed the 28-year-old pitcher “insurable,” his salary will be covered by insurance and the Mets will be reimbursed for the time Diaz misses.
But the team would prefer to have its closer available for a potential World Series.