MLB players’ World Baseball Classic insurance issues

Dodgers relief pitcher Brusdar Graterol is another player who won’t be competing in the World Baseball Classic because of insurance issues.

(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

This particular arrangement covers players on 40-man MLB rosters — other leagues that have players in the tournament are not included. Free agents don’t need insurance because they’re not on an MLB roster.

One premium is negotiated with NFP to cover every player. An underwriter reviews each player’s medical records. Players are then placed into two buckets: insurable under that one umbrella premium or uninsurable.

Players can be rendered uninsurable for “four or five” reasons, according to a person with knowledge of the situation. One is that the player has a “chronic condition” based on his injury history. Another is that the player spent considerable time on the injured list the previous season or finished the previous season on the injured list.

Kershaw and Cabrera fell into the “chronic” category.

Kershaw’s injury history includes a significant elbow injury in 2021 and various back ailments over the last decade. Kershaw landed on the 10-day injured list twice last season — both times because of back issues. Cabrera has dealt with left biceps injuries over the last four seasons and various other nagging ailments.

Dodgers reliever Brusdar Graterol wanted to pitch in the tournament for Venezuela, but he wasn’t offered insurance coverage because of previous injuries. Texas Rangers pitcher Nathan Eovaldi committed to Team USA but was left off the roster because he didn’t meet the criteria for insurance coverage. The same happened in 2017 with pitcher Sonny Gray, who didn’t play for the U.S. after spending 70 days on the injured list in 2016.

Teams also have the option to not allow a player to participate in the tournament if he was on the 60-day injured list at any point during the previous season.

St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Tyler O’Neill faced that hurdle this month. O’Neill was deemed ineligible to play for Canada after finishing last season on the injured list, but the Cardinals waived the withhold and cleared him with a physical before the insurer authorized coverage.

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