World Baseball Classic: Perverse Incentive Alert

Apparently the World Baseball Classic will compensate Major League Baseball teams if an injured WBC player misses 30 days or more of the regular season. But if the player misses less than that? No compensation.

So. Imagine your $10 million player breaks a finger and is out for four weeks. He’s ready to come back on the 28th day. As a general manager, do you:

  1. Take him off the disabled list immediately and receive no compensation.
  2. Wait two days, take him off after the 30th day, and receive about $1.7 in compensation.

Option #2 looks very tempting.

Will the perverse incentives come into play this year? Unlikely, but it is possible. Mark Teixeira and Hanley Ramirez are both out for eight weeks, long enough to guarantee they will be compensated for. Brett Lawrie could push it, though. He’s on the DL with a cracked rib. However, his salary is a measly $500,000 this season, and last season’s production well exceeded a half million dollar contract. If Lawrie were ready to return after 28 days, the Blue Jays would essentially pay a $120,000 premium–$60,000 per game–to do so. This is roughly equivalent to a player worth $11 million. It would be a close call.

In any case, this system has perverse incentives.

2 responses to “World Baseball Classic: Perverse Incentive Alert

  1. How could a player come off the DL after 28 days? My understanding is that there is a 15- and 60-day DL, so two stints on the 15-day list would be 30 days (it seems to me this is the logic of the 30-day cutoff).

    • 15 and 60 are just the minimum number of days a player must spend on the DL before returning. So you can come back after 15 days, 16 days, 17 days, etc.

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