Every spring there are a handful of players who show the baseball world that they are ready for the big leagues. Every April, fans are forced to roll their eyes in frustration has those players are sent to Triple-A to wait for some date in June when they will be past the deadline that would make them arbitration eligible a year early. It has happened to guys like Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, and Wil Myers. This season, players like Noah Syndergaard and Gregory Polanco might be ready to help their teams out, but service time considerations will probably hold them back.
For those of us who cover transactions and write about player valuation, these decisions make sense. The value of keeping these players under team control for an extra season far outweighs the loss of a few months of their services at the major leagues. Yet, understandable as it may be, it is still a load of bureaucratic bull that does nothing to improve the game on the field and only serves to frustrate and annoy people just as the season is getting under way.
Well, actually, there is a purpose the rules serve. They were created to bring players who serve a significant amount of time at the major league level into arbitration early. If there wasn't some Super-Two status rules and that arbitrary date, teams would have to choose between burying their top prospects for even longer to control the service time clock or players would lose out on the substantial pay raises that hitting arbitration brings for even longer. The current balance is even-handed, at least.
It is also infuriating. There should be someway for teams to manage service time requirements without forcing young players to wait for a call up because of the date and not their ability to contribute. Maybe teams could assign one player a season Super-Two status before April on the condition that the player must stay on the 25-man roster all season. If they stay on the roster all season, the team earns the same service time advantage they would have if they held them back until mid-June, but if they have to be demoted at any point, they lose the extra arbitration year. This system would have flaws as well, I'm sure, but it would allow teams to break camp with their top prospects if they feel they have earned it.
How would you fix the service time/Super-Two system?
Breakfast Links 3/11:
It is amazing how fast pitching depth can disappear...
...sending you running into the arms of the last free agent standing...
...and picking up whatever spare parts are lying around out there.
This winter saw teams make some smart moves, but one deal stands out.