MLB Inquiry: Have the Dodgers Abused the 10-Day Disabled List Rule?

As you may know, with the 2017-2021 MLB CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement), teams now have two options when moving players to and from their rosters as opposed to the standard 15-day DL for bodily injuries in use since 1985. One is the seven day (7) concussion DL and the second is the ten day (10) DL for bodily injuries. The Dodgers have used the 10-day DL many times this season and the moves have seemingly coincided with team roster needs (i.e., adding a bullpen arm for a series in Colorado or adding a right-handed bat off the bench with an opposing team that has solid bullpen filled with left-handed relievers).

Nonetheless, coincidence is not proof of wrongdoing. Moreover, working within the rules to your benefit is like taking a tax deduction. You take the deduction because it helps your bottom-line. In baseball, the analogy is no different. The Dodgers need roster space and they have seven starting pitchers. If there is an injury to be found, they Dodgers are going to (1) protect their players, and (2) strengthen their lineup to win more ballgames. Two reasons for doing something do not make it wrong. It means hedging your bets and playing the odds in your favor.

The only reason Major League Baseball is “investigating” the Dodgers, if you want to call it that, is because the Dodgers and seemingly all other teams have found a way to allow the rule to benefit teams that the higher ups did not conceive when the rule was spoken and written into existence. The argument could be made that the new 10-day DL rule was implemented to help teams manage their rosters. Therefore, it should not be surprising that teams like the Dodgers have found a way to let the rule help their rosters.

We live in a competitive world and sports are the ultimate competition. Major League Baseball should be glad that teams care to win and use the rules to do that and to protect their players from further injury. Some folks may throw around words like exploitation or abuse when referencing 10-day DL use, but that is too harsh for what is really just a new form of efficiency in winning games.

According to ESPN.com, injuries to pitchers and innings logged by starting pitchers are moving in the wrong and opposite directions. In the context of utilization of the 10-day DL by the Dodgers and other teams, it makes sense that the team has used the rule to its benefit its club as most of its pitchers not named Clayton Kershaw have had Tommy John surgery to repair their elbows. It would serve correctly that the Dodgers would be among the league leaders in 10-day DL stints, just as the Dodgers led the league last year in 15-day DL time.

When the Los Angeles Times interviewed Dodgers starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy he said in reference to his team’s injury history that “Most of us come with a checkered injury history. If you feel something coming up, or there’s a chance to get a breather, then I think you have to give that a shot.” Again, it makes sense that the Dodgers would utilize something that it needs.

In an article by Ben Lindbergh with The Ringer, he mentions that process to confirm injuries by team medical staff with Major League Baseball’s staff is still the same. Furthermore, an increase of use of the DL might actually prove that the new rule is working since players are more willing to come forward with their injuries to team managers and medical staff where their visit to the disabled list is 10-days as opposed to 15-days. This is especially true for starting pitchers who pitch every fifth day. Lindbergh also adds that a rule meant to help keep players healthy and to increase a player’s service time and their salary not spent playing in the minor leagues is a positive thing. Remember, contracts in baseball are guaranteed so injuries do not take away pay.

As the old saying goes, if you do not like the rules, change them. Fortunately, for the Dodgers, the League and the Players Association already did that and the team’s leaders have utilized the 10-day DL rule to their benefit. Also, as another old saying goes, if you cannot beat them, join them, and other teams have followed the Dodgers lead in using the 10-day DL. We should cheer on the Dodgers and other teams that utilize the rules to win. At the end of the day, the point is to win.

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Jeremy Evans

Jeremy M. Evans is the Founder & Managing Attorney at California Sports Lawyer®, representing entertainment, media, and sports clientele. Evans is an award-winning attorney and industry leader based in Los Angeles.


  1. No way. The Dodgers gain a competitive advantage. Not every team can afford to pay 12 major league caliber starting pitchers. Phantom injuries will have to be addressed, or maybe we just need to go back to the 15 day DL as soon as we can.

  2. Although, a better fix that Id be in favor of is allowing teams to remove resting pitchers from the active roster for just one game. I guess then the competitive edge becomes having a AAA team that is geographically close to your big league team. But I think itd be good for pitcher healthamong other advantages.

    Or we could just go crazy and make it a 25 man MINIMUM roster, with your 40 man representing the max.

    The only thing we cant do is allow the Dodgers to go on abusing the system while other teams suffer the consequences.

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