I don't know exactly what all this means, and I'm hoping some of you can tell me. The AP reports that the Bucs didn't ask for a physical from Akinori Iwamura before trading for him, and relied instead on scouting reports, which were positive. The article also says that Frank Coonelly says that such pre-trade physicals are "uncommon."
Well... are they? Just googling around, I've found that Johan Santana, Erik Bedard, the players involved in the Roy Halladay / Cliff Lee deal and the two guys in the Mike Cameron / Xavier Nady deal all took physicals. The trade that sent Coco Crisp to Boston was delayed when Guillermo Mota failed a physical. The A's gave Matt Holliday a physical upon acquiring him. The Mets did not give J.J. Putz a physical when they traded him, and they took a bunch of heat for it. Pre-trade physicals do seem to be at least reasonably common, and the Mets' tale seems like a cautionary one, not an example to follow.
Then again, the Bucs' trade for Iwamura took place in early November. The Pirates scouted him at the end of the season and didn't note any problems. Since it was already known that he'd had knee issues the previous year, one wonders what a physical might have found that the Pirates didn't already know. Under normal circumstances, I assume the Pirates would have given him one anyway, because you can usually void a trade if you give a physical within the first week or so if the player turns out to be hurt, but Iwamura was in Japan at the time. Then again, you'd think a $5 million investment would have been worth a trip across the ocean.