Eleven players who were primarily catchers last season are signed to contracts running through 2016 and beyond, with a total of $565.45 million in remaining guaranteed salary, according to calculations by The Associated Press.
MLB watched as the NFL reached a $765 million settlement last summer in a concussion-related lawsuit by former players, and a group of hockey players sued the NHL last month over brain trauma.
"How much is it that they're paid a lot more than they used to be?" said New York Mets GM Sandy Alderson, chairman of the rules committee. "It's a combination of those things. But I think what's crystalized our thinking is probably the concussion issue. Try to be proactive."
This year's winter meetings likely will be remembered most for the rules decision. There were just six trades -- two more than during last year's drab session in Nashville, Tenn. As the meetings ended, the Chicago Cubs acquired Justin Ruggiano from Miami for Brian Bogusevic in a swap of outfielders, Seattle completed its $240 million, 10-year contract with All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano, Boston finalized a $32 million, two-year agreement with first baseman Mike Napoli, and Washington completed a two-year deal with outfielder Nate McLouth.
In one-year deals pending physicals, outfielder Michael Morse agreed with San Francisco at $6 million, right-hander Roberto Hernandez with Philadelphia and reliever Joba Chamberlain with Detroit.
Crashes at home plate have been a baseball tradition and a staple of television highlight shows. Some traditionalists such as career hits leader Pete Rose are against a change.
But some in MLB management fear continuing the status quo could lead to possible liability.
"I think it's always been in a lot of people's minds as odd that we allow collisions there and we don't really allow them at other bases," Los Angeles Dodgers President Stan Kasten said. "I think it's frankly overdue."
Even without collisions, catchers get banged up more than most other players. Mauer was hit on the mask by a foul ball Aug. 19 and missed the final six weeks of the season. Still bothered by headaches and light sensitivity in October, he consulted with doctors at the Mayo Clinic and will be switching to first base in 2014.
"When I kept gathering information, to be honest with you, it wasn't really even a decision," Mauer said last month. "I kept searching to see if it was going to be OK, if it was going to be safe for me to go back there and catch, and I just wasn't finding that."