The Dodgers continue to renew the contract of retired baseball player to keep him insured
Andrew Toles has schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. He hasn't played since 2018.
In America, some people are consumed with medical debt, and while many people argue for universal health care, we have to live within the system that currently exists until something changes. This means many Americans live without adequate medical insurance and are saddled with astronomical medical bills. Since healthcare is tied to employment, people who are unemployed are likely disproportionately affected.
People living with severe mental illnesses are most likely to be unable to hold down employment to maintain medical insurance—the same medical insurance that provides mental health services and medication management needed to treat their mental illness. It's a medical care quagmire, and one that retired Dodgers player Andrew Toles would've found himself in, had the Major League Baseball team ended his contract.
Toles signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2016 and just two years later, the team placed him on the restricted list indefinitely, essentially retiring the player while he worked on his mental health.
During his absence from the game, Toles has continued to struggle with his mental health. In 2018 he was hospitalized for two weeks and diagnosed with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. After he was found living behind the Key West International Airport in 2020, the baseball player's father, Alvin Toles, former linebacker for the New Orleans Saints, gained guardianship and Toles has been with him since.
At this point, it's been multiple years since Toles has played baseball professionally, but that hasn't stopped the Dodgers from renewing his contract.
Every year, the baseball team renews Toles's contract for $0 and keeps him on the reserves list so he can keep his health insurance through the team. Mental health care can be expensive, especially when you have severe mental illnesses that may require multiple hospital stays and trials of multiple medications to find the right balance. The Dodgers continually renewing the player's contract is not only heartwarming but admirable.
According to an update in 2021 from Toles' father, the player is still in active psychosis.
"We are having challenges, but nothing that God and I can't handle. Schizophrenia, it's just so tough. I mean, he can't even watch TV. He hears voices and the TV at the same time, so it's kind of confusing. I've seen him looking at some baseball games on his laptop, but I don't think he really understands what's going on," Alvin told USA Today at the time.
The Dodgers keeping Toles on their roster proves to the family that they're not alone. Even if the embattled player doesn't remember his time as a star baseball player or understand the game anymore, his team still has his back.
“His name will pop up randomly in our clubhouse. He fit in with us so fondly and was so adored. It’s just sad to see what has transpired and knowing that a lot of it is out of his control," Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told USA Today in 2021. “Man, I would love to see him. I’d love to put my arms around him. I miss him. I really miss him.’’
Toles has been living out his life in a home next door to his father in Georgia, where his dad works hauling chemicals and caring for his son. The Dodgers are hopeful that one day Toles will be well enough to attend a game when they're playing in Atlanta, according to USA Today.