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Transaction Analysis 7/18: Cards place Gallegos and Sanchez on the COVID-IL

MLB: Spring Training-Washington Nationals at St. Louis Cardinals Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday the Cardinals tweeted the following transaction:

7/18/20: Placed RHP Giovanny Gallegos and LHP Ricardo Sanchez on the “injury list”

I have to admit that I don’t understand this transaction, and I don’t think anyone else does. First things first, however. You can bet that the “injured list” is the COVID-19 related injury list, even if the team hasn’t publicly announced it as that. We’ve been talking about the phantom injured list for weeks now, and every time a club has placed a player on the “injured list” without a reason, it has been due to a COVID-related issue. It doesn’t mean that the player has tested positive for COVID, but COVID has always had something to do with it—a high temperature, exposure to someone else who had it, or something like that. It has to be the COVID-19 related injury list because the rules prohibiting retroactive placement on the regular 10-day IL have not been changed.

It was confirmed that Alex Reyes tested positive for COVID-19 on intake, and was quarantined for two weeks. He was never placed on the list, because the Cards did not need extra CPP space. He was cleared to work yesterday. Ricardo Sanchez and Genesis Cabrera and Elehuris Montero also tested positive for COVID, and they had never been placed on the COVID-19 injured list either. Cabrera was also cleared to practice yesterday.

Gallegos was the only mystery man, waylaid in Mexico for a couple of weeks for undisclosed reasons. The Cardinals have only said he had “travel issues,” which sounds like legalese for “Something going on with COVID, but he hasn’t given his permission to disclose it, so we can’t talk about it.” Gallegos arrived in St. Louis on Saturday, but he was not cleared by the doctors to work out. As Derrick Goold reported here, Manager Mike Shildt was frustrated and didn’t understand it. “I don’t necessarily understand why because everybody else was cleared today, and he’s passed everything else.”

The question is, why place Gallegos and Sanchez on the COVID-19 Related Injury List? No one knows, and it doesn’t make any sense. Gallegos must have received some type of medical clearance to travel from Mexico to St. Louis. If it was something like a visa holdup, we would have been told about that. Even if it was something like a temperature, maybe he doesn’t have a temperature today. Anne Rogers reported here that Sanchez has been cleared and is headed to the Alternate Training Site in Springfield.

The only real reason to place a player on the COVID-19 Related Injury List that I can think of is if a club needs either space on the 40-man roster or the 60-man Club Player Pool. When Cabrera and all those other players actually tested positive and they gave their permission for it to be announced that they tested positive, did the club place them on the COVID-IL? No, and the reason was that the club only announced an initial Club Player Pool of 44 players. They could just let the players deal with the quarantine and clearance and wait to name a full CPP list until they were sure about everyone’s COVID status.

The Cards’ 40-man roster was at 38 spots, and this move knocks it down to 36. They might add one or two pitchers at the most at some point soon. They have no need for additional 40-man roster spots at this time. The Club Player Pool was almost full at 59, but the Cards do not seem to be interested in using the COVID-19 Related Injury List to get extra CPP spots. This move knocks it down to 57.

I wish I had more for you, but I just don’t understand it, and the club hasn’t revealed the answer, although they did say that Mike Shildt would clarify it. The COVID-19 Related Injury list has no minimum or maximum stay, so far all we know, they could be taken off the list today. The club had said they hoped Gallegos would be available today. In fact, Goold tweeted about 20 minutes ago that Gallegos joined the Cardinals for a workout for the first time today, and threw a bullpen session. His status for opening day is still to be determine. So why is he on the COVID-19 Related Injury List? Nothing in the rules say you can’t work out if you’re on the list, but if he’s working out, why is he on it? There does not seem to be a justifiable reason for either Gallegos or Sanchez to be placed on it. The only thing I can tell you is that neither pitcher is really hurt, in the sense of having an arm problem. I will update this story if I ever hear of an answer from the Cards.