It’s Time To Fix Baseball’s Broken Service Time System

Kris Bryant is almost universally hailed as the best prospect in baseball, and for what absolute little spring stats count for, he’s got a 1.561 OPS in spring training. He destroyed Triple-A in a half season of play in 2014, just like he did at every level since he was drafted No. 2 overall in 2013, putting up a 194 (!) wRC+ in 860 minor league plate appearances. The Cubs traded incumbent third baseman Luis Valbuena to Houston this winter in an obvious move to make room for Bryant, even if they won’t admit it.

Bryant is unquestionably ready for the big leagues — all four of our projection systems have him for between a 129-132 wRC+ — and yet, there’s almost no chance that he’ll actually be on the Cubs’ Opening Day roster. Enjoy Mike Olt and Tommy La Stella for the first two weeks, Cubs fans. This is so, so dumb.

You already know what the reasoning is here, because it’s been discussed ad nauseam this spring. If Bryant is with the Cubs from day one, he’ll vest 2015 as a full season of service time and be eligible for free agency after the 2020 season. If they hold him down in Triple-A so that he misses the first nine Cubs games of the season (which take place over 12 days, due to three scheduled days off), they’ll enjoy Bryant’s services through the 2021 season as well — his age-29 season. It’s a simple decision for the Cubs. Two weeks of Bryant’s age-23 season just won’t be as valuable as six months of his age-29 season. Keeping him down may not be popular, but it’s unquestionably correct.

If this sounds familiar, it should. Every year, it seems, we go through this charade of teams not putting their best roster on the field not due to talent reasons, but due to service time reasons. Last year, it was George Springer, recalled on April 16. In 2012, it was Bryce Harper, who came up on April 28. Jordan Zimmermann made it up on April 20, 2009. Evan Longoria debuted on April 8, 2008. They aren’t the only ones, and for the moment, I’m only talking about teams trying to get the additional year of service time, not only attempting to avoid Super Two status as well.

As Craig Edwards explained here last week, the Cubs have three options, none ideal:

  1. They could try to strike a deal with Bryant that sells out his maximum earning power in exchange for immediate riches, as Longoria, Madison BumgarnerSalvador Perez and others have done, but that’s unlikely with Scott Boras around.
  2. They could ignore the service time implications and have Bryant active on Opening Day, as the Braves and Marlins did with Jason Heyward and Jose Fernandez, respectively.
  3. They could do what they almost certainly will do, which is understand that the difference between Bryant and Olt/La Stella over six percent of the season is not worth kicking away an entire future — and presumably peak — Bryant season for.

Number one won’t happen. Number two shouldn’t happen. That leaves the Cubs with number three, which is to masquerade Bryant as an Iowa Cub in road trips to Memphis and New Orleans before calling him up to the big leagues on or about April 18, a ruse which doesn’t help the player or the fans.

How is it that we haven’t been able to do better? It shouldn’t be acceptable that teams are so transparently manipulating service time, but the blame isn’t really with the front offices here. They’re merely making strategic decisions within the rules the owners and union have agreed to, which is why MLBPA head Tony Clark’s recent comments that he’d be “paying attention to the situation” ring hollow — after all, Bryant, who is not yet on the Chicago 40-man roster, isn’t even a member of the union that Clark leads.

That’s really the main issue here, that the union has spent years bargaining away the rights of amateurs they don’t even represent, both domestically and globally. But let’s say, for the moment, that they do have an interest in resolving this situation, that beyond the PR aspect of it, the sooner they can get a top prospect like Bryant to the bigs, the sooner he can get to free agency and make some real money. With the CBA coming back up for discussion next year, and with recent reports indicating that the MLBPA will fold on the international draft issue in return for other demands, the opportunity is coming. How can we make this better?

Here’s one potential solution:

Change the requirement for a full year of service time
towards free agency to 100 days

Everyone knows “six years of service time” as what’s required to reach free agency, but it’s important the remember the wordsmithing of the CBA here as to what actually constitutes a full year of service. From our glossary:

A year of service time is equal to 172 days, and there are normally around 183 total days in the major league calendar. This means that if a team wants to keep a prospect from accruing a full year of service time, they simply need to leave that player in the minors for around 15-20 days out of the entire season.

That’s 162 games in 183 days, 172 of which a player must be active (or on the major league DL) for in order to qualify for a full year of service, meaning that it takes just 11 days in the minors to hold them back. (Yes, it says 15-20 days above, but that’s due to slight differences in the rules between 40-man and non-40-man players that aren’t worth exploring here.) While that 172-vs-183 distinction adds some confusion, simply turning the 172-day requirement into 183 wouldn’t help; all that would do would incentivize teams to have their prospects only miss Opening Day. What this needs to do instead is to get that date much further from Opening Day, to increase the pain a team would feel by holding a prospect down.

So instead of focusing on days, why don’t we focus on seasons, or “qualified seasons,” if that helps. Any season with 100 days of service time would count as a qualifying season towards free agency. Or, to look at it from the other perspective, a team would have to keep a prospect on the farm for more than half the season to delay free agency by a year. Get enough qualified seasons, you’re a free agent; to avoid a team hanging on to a part-time player for a decade, you could still keep the old rule in place and make it “six qualified seasons or 1,000 total days of service time,” which is roughly what six times 172 is now. Simple. Easy. Better.

In all honesty, I pulled 100 days out of the air because it’s a nice round number, so if you prefer 90 days or 110 days or something similar, there’s room to discuss. For now, 100 seems to work. That would be roughly three months and a week-plus, so let’s say a rough deadline of June 20 to get a player up. For a player like Bryant, that would remove all incentive for the Cubs to hold him down, because whether he’s up on April 6 or April 18 or May 15, he’s getting those 100 days.

The easy devil’s advocate response to that is, “well, we see teams hold players down until June all the time to avoid Super Two, so why wouldn’t they do the same here?” Perhaps they would, but for a player of Bryant’s caliber, it would be far more difficult for the Cubs to weather three months of public angst — not to mention a real, actual hit to playoff hopes — than it would be for them to do it for under two weeks. There’s a present/future balance where it becomes a very difficult decision of whether to surrender current performance for extra team control, but two or three weeks is clearly not that balance point; two or three months is likely much closer to that tipping point.

From the union’s side, it’s a no-brainer. For example, Rick Porcello — who fell two days short of free agency despite six straight seasons of at least 162 innings pitched — wouldn’t be working for $12.5 million in his final season of arbitration, he’d be kicking off what might be a potentially massive payday. David Price wouldn’t be in his fourth and final year of arbitration because he’s eight days short of six years of service time — note that after his star turn in the 2008 season and playoffs, the Rays still kept him down until May in 2009 — he’d have been a free agent this winter alongside Max Scherzer. (Not that Price would get a ton more annually than the $19.75 million he’s making, he’d just have a lot more long-term security.)

The problem is getting the owners on board, because a significant reduction in the number of days required for a service year will push players into free agency faster, moving players to more expensive rates at a faster clip. While eliminating this dog-and-pony show is good for fans and good for the players, it would result in higher costs for owners, which they are almost always universally against. So, the player’s association would have to give up something of real value in order to get this as a concession in the next CBA. In general, the union asks for things that benefits its current members, especially the most senior portions of the union, while this would be a benefit passed on to those not currently members or with the fewest dues paid.

So what would the player’s association give up in order to help a group of players it has generally not protected? Perhaps the natural trade-off would be agreeing to MLB’s desire for an international draft, since that would lead to a cost reduction for ownership but not at the expense of any money currently being allocated to union members. Trading the international draft for the end of the service time charade would harm players who will be union members farther down the road while helping players knocking on the union’s door; that’s the kind of trade off they’re generally interested in making.

Would it be enough to get ownership on board? Maybe, maybe not. But it’s a good place to start, at least. And it would have the secondary benefit of also making the Super Two system entirely unnecessary, so the additional costs added on via earlier free agency would be offset to some degree by the elimination of fourth-year arbitration raises, which aren’t all that different from free agent prices in many cases. If owners got an international draft and Super Two went away, perhaps the marginal cost increase of granting free agency slightly sooner wouldn’t be a deal breaker.

It’s not a perfect solution, because it can’t be. So long as players are tied to their original team for a certain amount of service time, there’s going to have to be a rule on when that time starts, and teams are going to try to get around that. You’d still have disputes in-season about when a player should be called up, but you have that now. This would at least remove the incentive to do it on Opening Day. Maybe 100 days isn’t the right number. Maybe September roster expansion days only count as half credit for players who are newly-added to the 40-man roster. Maybe there’s another way entirely. Whatever the right answer is, a scenario where everyone pretends that Bryant heading to Iowa is strictly on the up-and-up isn’t it. There’s got to be a better way.



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Mike Petriello lives in New York and writes about the Dodgers daily at Dodgers Digest, as well as contributing to ESPN Insider. He wrote two chapters in the 2014 Hardball Times Annual as well as building The Hardball Times and TechGraphs, and was an editorial producer at Sports on Earth. Find him at @mike_petriello.


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dscottncc
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dscottncc
1 year 2 months ago

Awesome article as I had the exact same solution when I discussed this with my buddy on Friday. Seems like a simple solution that we will have to wait for when the next bargaining agreement comes up.

I’m a Cub fan and can’t believe that not only will I not get to see Bryant, but I might even have to suffer through 1 homer and 20 strikeouts from the position the first 10-15 games (aka OLT).

The only caveat is that it might open up a tad more playing time for Arismendy Alcantara at 3b as our super utility guy (the new Zobrist).

Anyway I hope it doesn’t ruin our wild card bid this year!!!

Go Cubs Go

Jayjay
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Jayjay
1 year 2 months ago

There’s a decent enough chance that Kris Bryant would strike out 20 times and only hit one homer in his first 15 games, too.

Rational Fan
Guest
Rational Fan
1 year 2 months ago

How long until we hear “wait until next year” again from every Cub fan? I’ll guess before August.

Dirty Platypus
Member
Dirty Platypus
1 year 2 months ago

This is easily one of the more infuriating parts of the sport. “Get excited about this great young player… in a couple months.” I completely understand why it happens, before someone jumps down my throat for that, I just think it’s stupid that it can happen.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 2 months ago

This would probably be an improvement (personally, I see anything that allows players to reach free agency sooner as an improvement), but I don’t think it really solves the problem. Now, as it is, if a prospect is on the verge of deserving a call-up to the majors around April 1, he’ll be kept down for a few weeks in order to squeeze an extra year of service out of him. If we change a ‘service season’ to 100 days, then a prospect on the verge of deserving a call-up to the majors around June will be kept down for a few weeks in order to squeeze an extra year of service out of him.

This solves the problem for a player who’s on the verge of the majors in spring training, but you’re instead creating a problem for a player on the verge of the majors in mid-summer. Any time you have a set cut-off point for free agency, teams are going to manipulate it in order to maximize the years of team control.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 2 months ago

Would time served on the DL factor into this theoretical 100 days of service time?

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 2 months ago

It depends whether he’s in the majors or the minors when he’s injured. If a player is on the MLB roster and gets injured, he gets put on the major league DL and still accrues service time. If he’s in the minors at the time of the injury (whether on option or because he’s not yet on the 40-man), he goes on the MiLB DL and doesn’t accrue service time. And there’s a rule against optioning a player on the DL.

This is all very sensible. It gets weird when a prospect-ish player on the 40-man is unlikely to make the opening day roster, and then gets injured during the offseason or during spring training. He’s on the 40-man and not on option to the minors, so he goes on the MLB DL. Then he’s basically accruing service time by virtue of the fact he was ‘lucky’ enough to get injured before the minor league season started.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 2 months ago

bruh if you’re going to change your username because we don’t take it seriously, try for more than maybe two seconds to not be obviously that same guy.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 2 months ago

whoa, seems like that guy’s comments were all deleted…

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 2 months ago

* Link to any JPEG showing someone saying, “I AM OK WITH THIS!” *

JuicyBobes PhilSux
Guest
JuicyBobes PhilSux
1 year 2 months ago

I’ve never understood how both sides had agreed that this is a good plan. It obviously is not good for the fans, and I think a lot more decisions in baseball need to be based on that.

“Is this good for the company?” is ridiculous in reference to Office Space, but “Is this good for the fans?” should be the central point of discussion.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 2 months ago

It’s always funny to see how a lot of organizations, not just baseball, always make decisions based on “Is this good for the company” yet they never realize that if they made decisions based on “Is this good for the fans (customers)”, they would never have to worry about any other problem.

Take care of your customers and your employees, and they will take care of you.

EFFyou
Guest
EFFyou
1 year 2 months ago

The Phillies will still avoid Robbie Cano types from the islands.

Those guys have a high rate of testing the market and doing so with Scott Boras or now Jay Z.

This is “The Phillies Way”

It’s a 34 YEAR long record of facts that is completely ignored
by every so-called professional MLB writer. MLB level or
farm level. They all pretend they are unaware of these facts
and will not respond to any inquiry on this subject.

Phillies113
Member
Member
1 year 2 months ago

Dude, you’re not fooling anyone with the fake name.

Jason B
Guest
Jason B
1 year 2 months ago

I know! It’s like Free_AEC showed up wearing Bobby Valentine’s fake moustache in the dugout after getting tossed.

Bpdelia
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Bpdelia
1 year 2 months ago

Honest critique here. You might be slightly more successful in your crusade if you:

A) Put these comments in posts that actually mention the Phillies. You’ve literally posted this on the last six articles I’ve read none of which even mention the Phillies. Often as a”reply ” to a completely unrelated comment.

2) learn to frame your argument sans hyperbole. Also NO ALL CAPS!!!! That immediately pegs you as the internet equivalent of a dude standing on a corner with a”The end is near ” sign.

Just trying to help.

Gil Renard
Guest
Gil Renard
1 year 2 months ago

Mr. Primo?

Yeah? – Can I just say…?

Did you ever think how one man who’s doing well…might throw off the rest of the team?

I’m saying, you have to thinkof what’s best for the team, right?

You might have to lay down a sacrifice.

I’m talking about Bobby Rayburn’s number.

I don’t know if you understand how much he needs that number.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 2 months ago

I think that’s too simple. Sure this isn’t good for Cubs fans now, but how will those same fans feel in 2021 knowing that they get an entire season of Bryant in exchange for missing him these first two weeks? Especially if it looks like for whatever reason that they won’t be able to resign him at that point? I think Cubs fans will be pretty glad the team held him down for two weeks. Look at the Braves as an example. Do you think it’s good for Atlanta fans that the team had to trade Heyward (since they felt couldn’t resign him) a whole year sooner then they otherwise would’ve? I’m not saying the system is okay, I’m just saying I think we as fans benefit from the system as much or more than we do suffer because of it.

Mark L
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Mark L
1 year 2 months ago

You can’t consider the potential fans of 2021. It’s ridiculous. Literally anything could happen by then – two more super-prospects might have come up, Bryant might have been a bust, or the Cubs might be 4-time WS champs. You have to think of the fans of now.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 2 months ago

That’s true, but by that logic Bryant might be a bust and his service time might never be an issue anyways. We’re all assuming Bryant will have a good career, though, since we’re talking about several years down the road. Given that assumption, considering fan interest is no more ridiculous than anything else.

K
Guest
K
1 year 2 months ago

Literally anything?

Sandy Kazmir
Member
Sandy Kazmir
1 year 2 months ago

You might think it’s broken, but I’d guess that the owners are pretty happy about it and they’re the ones that determine policy and legislation within the game. Go ask them if it’s broken and then get laughed out of the room.

Thanks, Comcast
Guest
Thanks, Comcast
1 year 2 months ago

Yeah, I’m pretty sure Mike acknowledged that.

Sandy Kazmir
Member
Sandy Kazmir
1 year 2 months ago

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZ70hbvaPdU

Owners are Gus Van Zant, players are Chuckie and Will, fans are the nerd

agam22
Guest
agam22
1 year 2 months ago

What about, as a compromise, lower the service time threshold to something incredibly low like 20 days and in exchange players agree to seven years of team control? Teams already have seven years of control anyway, so give that to them in exchange for a system that gets MLB ready players on rosters as soon as possible. The fight would be the salaries in the 7th year, owners would probably want pre-arb and players would want a super 2 style 4th arb year, I guess you could introduce a new arb year between years 3 and 4 that would put things some where in the middle.

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
1 year 2 months ago

But then won’t you have teams hold out the player for 20 days to get an eighth year?

agam22
Guest
agam22
1 year 2 months ago

No, what I am saying is 20 days is a year of service, so to get an 8th year of control a team would have to hold a player out for about 160 days, which would kind of defeat the purpose

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
1 year 2 months ago

Ahhh… that is a horse of a different color :)

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 2 months ago

Interesting suggestion. Other than manipulating service time for top prospects, that would primarily effect replacement level-ish types on the AAA shuttle who accumulate partial-seasons of service time here and there for years and years. The owners shouldn’t be worried about them achieving free agency sooner anyway because they don’t cost anything significant, and they are frequently free agents during the offseason despite not having 6 years of service (having been non-tendered or release to make room on the 40-man).

The problem with a threshhold as low as 20 is that suddenly a September call-up would cost a whole year of service. No one would agree to that. But maybe something as low as 40 or 50 days would work.

Roger
Guest
Roger
1 year 2 months ago

My thinking is similar. Already they have option years, where if you are optioned at all that year it counts as an option year and you can be optioned as many times as they want the rest of the year and it still just counts as an option year. I’ve thought about either counting any appearance outside of September as triggering one of 7 years of team control, or setting a service time threshold of say 35 days so that a pure September call-up doesn’t trigger a year of control, as it doesn’t now.

Dave
Guest
Dave
1 year 2 months ago

I like this idea, but I’d make it something like 35 days so that teams aren’t penalized for September call ups.

Grumpy Ole Bass Turd
Guest
Grumpy Ole Bass Turd
1 year 2 months ago

This is still broken, only less so. There’s almost no difference between 99, 100, and 101 days, so.. make a system where there’s almost no difference. When a player reaches arbitration, he gets an automatic raise (meant to be a percentage towards the next arb level) based on his extra service time. So a team that plays it straight with a big prospect and calls him up on opening day will pay no extra raise, but a team that games the system will be paying almost full arb-2 salary in the arb 1 year (because the player is almost a full year over). And then arb 3 in the arb 2 year, and arb 4 in the arb 3 year, which is close to a FA price. That’s still not *perfect* by any stretch, but it’s a lot closer to fair and much harder to game up front.

munchtime
Guest
munchtime
1 year 2 months ago

Why would the union agree that star players should not maximize their pay? Why would ownership agree that role players should be paid more than league minimum?

I don’t think either side agrees to this proposal.

lonny
Guest
lonny
1 year 2 months ago

I don’t think the owners and the union see this as broken and in need of a fix. To them it impacts no more than a hand full of players a year and none union players at that.

Andrew Siegel
Guest
Andrew Siegel
1 year 2 months ago

How about a simple rule that, “a player is eligible for free agency during the first free agent period at least six years after he first appears in a major league game.” That gives the owners seven full or partial seasons of any player they call up and keep up continuously but gets rank and file players (who bounce up and down to the minors) to free agency much more quickly. If owners adapt to thus change by stopping late season call ups of elite players, they will get a seventh season, so it might favor them slightly, but on balance it is close.

davels
Member
davels
1 year 2 months ago

Why not make it a single day? You could exempt sept 1 roster expansion time (or not).

I feel if the guy is good enough to be active on a MLB roster for one day (pre-September), then he get his year of service.

That would put an end to the non-sense.

davels
Member
davels
1 year 2 months ago

also I agree with lonny (above…). The union and owners likely don;t see this as a huge issue. I don’t think its a big deal either.

mikecws91
Guest
mikecws91
1 year 2 months ago

So Michael Taylor should’ve had two years of service time for playing in 15 games in 2012-2013?

davels
Member
davels
1 year 2 months ago

Really… Michael D. Taylor is the best anti-example you could find? The guy never got a real shot, and has since retired… making moot any service time issues.

But anyway, yes, he would have gotten service time for each of those years. Why not? Was he not employed in the service of MLB teams for those two years of his life?

Also teams would have deployed their players differently if a different rule was in place at that time. Sorry for not stating that earlier. I thought that was rather obviously implied.

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 2 months ago

As far as moving towards free agency? Why not? The draft is an abomination anyway. The union bargains away money from a bunch of young people with little chance of making who are not their members and hands the money to millionaires.

Brian L
Guest
Brian L
1 year 2 months ago

If the goal is to appease the fans, why not just simply do what you said shouldn’t be done: “simply turning the 172-day requirement into 183”.

That’s provides the benefit to fans in that they see the prospect for that extra 8 or so days that he would have been kept down, and the MLB doesn’t have to deal with the issue of player contracts / mlbpa / what to give up in return / etc. A favorite prospect would still miss a single game but I tend to think that fan fear is overrated anyway. As a Braves fan skipping back to 2010, I would have MUCH rather seen Heyward in Gwinnett for 1 or 10 days than see him gone a year earlier.

mikecws91
Guest
mikecws91
1 year 2 months ago

This is an excellent point. A fan who doesn’t understand might get up in arms, but the service time delays we see with elite guys like Kris Bryant ARE good for the fans, because if not for those two weeks, he might be gone after 2020.

Maybe, just to avoid the Opening Day issue, you could make the service requirement for free agency 6.001 years. Most players don’t get to free agency at exactly 6.000, so this would at least take the Opening Day service time game out of consideration, although I’m sure the MLBPA wouldn’t like it.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
1 year 2 months ago

at that point why not make the first player season 184 days, while leaving every other season at 183 days?

Let the player play on opening day

vivalajeter
Guest
vivalajeter
1 year 2 months ago

I’m not sure the Braves are the best example though. Yeah, it would be nice to have Heyward for another year. But they wound up making the playoffs by a single game. They may have missed the playoffs if they hadn’t called him up on opening day.

Dan E
Guest
Dan E
1 year 2 months ago

Umm… are we really sure that the owners care all that much? Isn’t it doubtful that this kind of change would increase overall payroll costs all that much, it would just spread the resources around differently (by introducing a higher pay scale to the best younger players sooner). The fans would surely appreciate it, but for me it’s much less likely that the union would accept this kind of change than the owners, since it seems to affect the pay allocated to the older players…

toleterito
Member
toleterito
1 year 2 months ago

Yeah, I’m just not sure what incentive the union has to anything. They’ve proven over and over that they don’t give a crap about minors/amateurs. A lot of MiLB makes under minimum wage for god’s sake.

Only way I see this changing is a catastrophic injury to a Bryant-like player and a big anti-discrimination lawsuit.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 2 months ago

Anti-discrimination? On what basis?

Carson's Johnny
Guest
Carson's Johnny
1 year 2 months ago

I don’;t know that anti-discrimination would exactly be it, but there has got to be some legal traction with having your employment situation bargained away by a group you are not a member of. Might take another 50 years for a judge to admit it.

Philies113
Guest
Philies113
1 year 2 months ago

The power alley in LF at CBP is 343 feet. It’s 351 in RF.

At the Vet it was 371 to both LF and RF.

Look at the splits for Veterans Stadium vs CBP.

CBP is a HR paradise. The only tough area is that corner in left center field where the wall goes up high.

Millsy
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Millsy
1 year 2 months ago

Not to be nitpicky, but Bryant’s OPS is 1.922, down from 1.991 a few days ago. Not that the 1.561 number isn’t impressive…

Mike Trout
Guest
Mike Trout
1 year 2 months ago

His OPS almost matched the year he was born. Wow. Even I probably couldn’t do that!

Jesus
Guest
Jesus
1 year 2 months ago

I can…

Pliny the Elder
Guest
Pliny the Elder
1 year 2 months ago

I could do it drunk

Stuck in a slump
Guest
Stuck in a slump
1 year 2 months ago

Too bad you can’t hit the curve

Hurtlocker
Guest
Hurtlocker
1 year 2 months ago

The Cubs should be the last team worried about a players time in 2021, after not winning the WS for over a 100 years and not being in the WS for 70.

Timbooya
Member
Timbooya
1 year 2 months ago

This isn’t nearly as big of a deal as the media has been making it out to be. Most players don’t play in all 162 games, I think the average (I could be wrong) is somewhere around 140 for starters. Bryant misses 10 games, now he’s at 152. Whoop dee doo. If one player missing 10 games at the beginning of the season prevents u from going to the playoffs, your team had other problems too. It’s only 10 games…

Eric R
Guest
Eric R
1 year 2 months ago

Its not games played, but days on the MLB 40-man

Ghostdawg
Guest
Ghostdawg
1 year 2 months ago

Timbooya’s point is not that Bryant wouldn’t get the service time if he didn’t play in those games, his point is that even IF Bryant was with the team from day 1, he still likely wouldn’t play more than 150 Games. So him missing the 9 games (12 days) that is required in order to not achieve 172 days this year, would have been missed anyway (at least) even if he was on the roster all year, as Maddon wouldn’t play him 162 games. So the point is that, figuring if Bryant’s presence during those 9 games versus Olt/La Stella is worth 6 months in 2020 is wrong anyway, as Maddon might have sat him in a game or two (of the 9) anyway, and if Olt is even average during those games, the difference is negligible at most.

P.S. You are incorrect by the way, service time is determined by time on the 25 Man Active Roster, not the 40 Man.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 2 months ago

I’m confused what you’re saying. Games played is irrelevant in this situation, so why bring up him being benched. Or are you saying that Bryant will have the same on-field value regardless of when he’s brought up, b/c the p.t. will be the same?

I’ve tried several times but can’t reformat your comment into a coherent argument. What does games played have to do with anything?

McNulty
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McNulty
1 year 2 months ago

@Ghostdawg: I don’t get what you’re saying either. Are you saying that Bryant missing the 9 games is like only missing 7 because he wouldn’t play every day anyway?

Tom
Guest
Tom
1 year 2 months ago

As someone pointed out above, why not just get rid of the service day system? If you come up at any time in the season that counts as a year. I’d make the first post-September 1st call-up not count so you could get your young players some MLB time before starting their official clock.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 2 months ago

The problem with that, though, is if a prospect is ready to come up in July a team will have an incentive to wait until the next year so as to get the most bang for their buck.

davels
Guest
davels
1 year 2 months ago

If the guy is on a MLB roster… he he’s an MLB player. He gets credit for the year. Period.
(I do like exempting the first time only for September callup)

If its July, and the guy is ready… its up to the team. Too bad. The guy should have been ready in March! Or, he needs to make it impossible for the team to NOT promote him. Thats life in MLB.

No rule can eliminate that. Stuff like that will always be the case, as long as there are service time rules.

What we’d like this rule to eliminate, is keeping an obvious (potential) stud player in the minor leagues for 2 more weeks, for no good reason.

The “good” or “made a lot of progress” guys can all wait until next season (or September), and no one is going to get too bent out of shape about that.

Bill
Guest
Bill
1 year 2 months ago

Right, of course it won’t eliminate the issue. That’s my point. So to say we should get rid of service time days system doesn’t really address the issue being discussed here.

Dan Ugglas Forearm
Member
Dan Ugglas Forearm
1 year 2 months ago

Though it would swing things heavily int he favor of the players, wouldn’t it be intuitive to go by rookie status? If a player has what is considered their rookie year, it should count as a full service season. Maybe you could compromise by making the rookie requirements (130 PA, 50 IP, 45 days on active roster) a little tougher to achieve. But that seems like the easiest way to determine what a “season” is for a rookie. If they lose their rookie eligibility in a particular season, then that season should count as a service year.

Orsulakfan
Guest
Orsulakfan
1 year 2 months ago

The service time dance doesn’t bother me, really. I think free agency is more fair for players, so in that sense I would favor opening it up, but more players in free agency sooner also benefits the deep-pocketed teams, so it might hurt competitive balance a bit.

Mark L
Guest
Mark L
1 year 2 months ago

Eventually, there’ll come a point when there are so many players hitting free agency that it’ll depress wages. It has to.

Deadmanonleave
Guest
Deadmanonleave
1 year 2 months ago

Wouldn’t what you argue for take away some of the natural competitiveness that the current structure gives. I mean, it’ll be great for the Red Sox and Yankees fans if every match between them is like an all star game but there’s nothing less interesting than the same teams winning all the time. The bigger teams have a massive advantage in free agency already, I don’t get how adding to that makes the game better.

For me, Mike’s suggestion, and the possible compromise between owners and players is a great start.

Deadmanonleave
Guest
Deadmanonleave
1 year 2 months ago

Sorry. I could have sworn that I was replying to a point about letting players hit free agency after four years. I either imagined it, or it disappeared. Both are equally disturbing lol.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 2 months ago

@Deadmanonleave yeah that happened to me. I’m typing this as a reply to your comment, so if it shows up as a standalone comment, something is definitely broken.

That John Middleton troll guy had a bunch of comments on here, and now they’re all gone, so it’s probably related to that.

deadmanonleave
Member
Member
deadmanonleave
1 year 2 months ago

Hmmm. Yours is showing up fine. Must be what you said about that weird Phillie guy.
Thanks for confirming I may not be mad.

Martin

chuckb
Guest
chuckb
1 year 2 months ago

Damn, that’s too bad. I’ve been trying to gather some info on John Middleton and was looking forward to reading what he had to say!

AF
Guest
AF
1 year 2 months ago

Any bright line cut-off will be abused. The only solution is to directly prohibit abuse and enforce the prohibition. Create a grievance process so that if a player can show that he was held back because of service time considerations, he gets the service time.

Costanza
Guest
Costanza
1 year 2 months ago

My understanding is that this is how it currently is. No player has ever filed a grievance because it’s essentially impossible to prove a player cannot learn anything in AAA.

I think your first sentence has the right of it — lines in the sand won’t work. So let’s talk about a sliding scale, perhaps related to arb raises? Why bucket players into groups of service time by years, when we could just use a sliding scale directly correlated to days on 25 man roster?

EG, once you’re on the 25-man for $EQUIVALENT_TO_ARB_1 days, your abitration is evaluated on # of days instead of # of years.

Instead of 40/60/80 for arb 1/2/3, we’d use a continuous variable.

AF
Guest
AF
1 year 2 months ago

Sliding scale works for arbitration but not service time. For any given off-season, you’re either a free agent, or you’re not.

I think you need to make abuse easier to prove. The standard shouldn’t be inability to learn anything in AAA. The standard should be would the player have been called up earlier but for service time considerations. If so, that’s abuse, and the team doesn’t get the benefit of the later call-up date.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
1 year 2 months ago

haha “the standard should be would the player have been called up earlier but for service time considerations”

thanks. You’re a legal wiz. You figured it all out!

AF
Guest
AF
1 year 2 months ago

I’m not sure I follow your comment, McNulty. As a litigator I can assure you that similar standards are applied successfully in many other contexts.

Mark L
Guest
Mark L
1 year 2 months ago

How on earth would you prove that?

AF
Guest
AF
1 year 2 months ago

You’d prove it by establishing the same facts that lead every observant baseball fan to know that it is true.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 2 months ago

I don’t know if this is weird, but I guess a system that results in players being kept down for an extra two weeks strikes me as that big an issue. As you say, the difference between Olt and Bryant for 6% of a season is pretty negligible. By the end of the season, no one will even remember that Bryant wasn’t up the whole year.

What I think is probably worse is the player held down until June to avoid super two status. That’s a much more significant period of time, and it’s done not to keep the player longer, but just to be able to pay him less.

Bip
Member
Member
Bip
1 year 2 months ago

ugh, should have proofread… I meant to say it doesn’t strike me as a big issue.

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 2 months ago

Agreed. They’ll still be Super-Two eligible, and the contested year of control is bought out by an extension in a large amount of these cases, anyway.

Kris
Member
Kris
1 year 2 months ago

Is it impossible to believe that the Cubs want Bryant to improve his defense? Maybe they want him to learn OF?

Or should that liability not factor in for a potential 4 WAR rookie?

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
1 year 2 months ago

Universal Free Ageny with strict salary caps would solve these issues. Every player (from 16 year old Dominicans to 35 year old veterans) could sign with whomever they choose for as long as they choose to sign. As long as a salary cap kept the Yankees/RedSox/Dodgers et al from outbidding ever other team, it would be fine.

Problem solved. You’re welcome.

Yirmiyahu
Member
1 year 2 months ago

So I just brought up your idea at this afternoon’s owner’s meeting. It was voted down 3-27.

McNulty
Guest
McNulty
1 year 2 months ago

good luck getting MLBPA to agree to a salary cap…

Mark L
Guest
Mark L
1 year 2 months ago

I think the 6 years of “minimum wage” is a weird system anyway. When you’ve got someone like a rookie Mike Trout making 10% of what some washed-out pitcher on the same team makes, something seems like it needs fixing.

Spa City
Member
Member
Spa City
1 year 2 months ago

Universal free agency combined with strict salary caps solves many of these problems.

Players (from 17 year old Dominicans to 38 year old veterans) should be free sign with any team for any length of time. There would be no incentive to keep them on the farm when they are ready for the majors, in fact the opposite would be true.

A strict salary cap would prevent the Big City teams from signing everybody. There would be no drafts, no “super two” concerns, no arbitration…

The freedom of players and teams to bargain for deals they both like would be pure, simple and egalitarian.

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 2 months ago

Well then you’d have people complaining about all the wasted money handed out to promising rookies who then flame out after only a year or two, plus said rookie then have no real incentive to continue developing their skills the right way once they sign their first big contract. It only works in the NFL due to their contracts not being guaranteed like in MLB (and the player’s union would never budge on the point of guaranteed contracts).

BMarkham
Guest
BMarkham
1 year 2 months ago

“Well then you’d have people complaining about all the wasted money handed out to promising rookies who then flame out after only a year or two,”

Well that’s part of Risk/reward analysis, right? Right now a very small amount of money is invested in prospects, much smaller than the overall value. The Red Sox just spent $63 million on a prospect just half a year after the number one pick in the draft was slotted at just under $8 million, with the last pick in the first round coming in at $1.8 milion. There’s a super-obvious difference between what these players are getting paid and how much their talent is worth. Raising the amount of money that these guys get paid increases ownership’s risk, sure, but that’s part of running any business, let alone a professional baseball team. But it also puts the amount of money these players are getting paid more in line with what they are worth.

“plus said rookie then have no real incentive to continue developing their skills the right way once they sign their first big contract”

well it’s pretty important to them if they’re a competitor, like all professional athletes, and for players that plan on signing big contracts after their first one.

RichW
Member
RichW
1 year 2 months ago

Every spring there are players who should make the 25 man roster on many teams who do not because of options remaining. They may not be as high up on the pecking order as Bryant but their plight and service time concerns are just as compelling to me.

pft
Guest
pft
1 year 2 months ago

I would like to scrap the service time for determining free agency or arbitration and go to an age based system.

Players are eligible for arbitration at age 26 to 28 (or 3 years after they begin MLB career, whichever comes earlier, which means more than 3 years arbitration for those who begin careers earlier than age 24). Players eligible for free agency are free agents after their age 28 season, regardless of when MLB career starts.

Something there for everyone. Teams get to keep elite players longer, but must pay arbitration earlier for late bloomers, and lose them to free agency earlier (these are lesser players normally).

In any event, it helps prevent teams from delaying a players clock, although some of the cheaper team may still try and reduce a players arb eligible date. That should be minimal though.

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 2 months ago

I don’t this is fair for guys who come up when they’re 20 or 21 (or even younger) to be making near league-minimum salaries for at least five years, nor is it fair for the teams of late bloomers who don’t get a chance until they’re 26 or 27 but then establish themselves quickly as quality regulars (like Matt Carpenter, for example).

Lanidrac
Guest
Lanidrac
1 year 2 months ago

The problem with this “solution” is that it will really hurt the bubble players, you know the middle relievers and bench players that are established big-leaguers but guys that won’t be missed much if their teams have enough depth. You’re going to see teams take full advantage of their minor league options by keeping them down at AAA for just over 100 days of each of their first three years in order to keep them around for another three full years, and these guys need the money a lot more than the top young stars.

Besides, the current system isn’t as broken as you imply. The Super Two System insures that these guys won’t lose much money over the matter, and many of these guys will eventually sign an extension that buys out the contested year of control anyway.

Mike13
Guest
1 year 2 months ago

Just let the kids play in the majors if their good enough

Just Me
Guest
Just Me
1 year 2 months ago

Maybe it’s just me but I think the current system encourages teams to call up prospects. No matter what it’s going to make sense to hold a guy down in the minors in to play out team control through his 20’s.

Hank G.
Guest
Hank G.
1 year 2 months ago

Start the free agent clock from the first day of service in the minor leagues. Better yet, abolish the draft (of course, I’d also ban publicly financed stadiums and put two more teams in the metropolitan NYC area).

For those who will invariably bring up “competitive balance”, why should the onus of maintaining competitive balance be on young players? The international signings of the last few years show how woefully underpaid young players are. The superstars make it up on the back end, but the average MLB career is only about five years, and why shouldn’t those guys get compensated fairly for the value they provide?

If there is an issue with competitive balance, let the owners come up with a way to do it that doesn’t depend on exploiting younger players.

Ken
Guest
Ken
1 year 2 months ago

I came here to say the same thing. The only way to avoid teams manipulating the rules relative to when they call up a player is to make it irrelevant. “Service” time should be based on when they started as a professional, not when they started in the mlb, which is arbitrarily controlled by the party with conflicting interests.

JP
Guest
JP
1 year 2 months ago

You are correct. The fact that a group of people (future draftees) have their fates collectively bargained by a different group of people (MLBPA) who have opposing interests (redirecting pay from amateurs to the represented base of professionals) is fundamentally flawed and would make for an interesting court case.

John
Guest
John
1 year 2 months ago

So the beef most of you have with this system is that it’s:
1. Unfair to the players.
2. Not in the best interest of the fans.

1.It’s unfair for the potential call ups as they’ll be missing out on millions of dollars for hitting FA a year later. Fair enough. I’ve also read some comments that being paid the minimum MLB (!) wage for 6 years is unfair to said players. Being paid 6 years of 500K (i’m completly ignoring arbitration or other deals with teams)is not unfair, it’s super awesome. That’s alot of money. A doctor (depending on his specialisation) gets maybe 200k? So no, I don’t feel bad for the players. If you’re talking about fairness, maybe talk about the minor league system paying some player below minimum wage. Fix that first, cause MLB players earn money. A lot of money. Millions of dollars.

2. As some noted above, fans may bitch about not seeing an elite prospect not being on the roster at opening day but in the end nobody really cares. You’re absolutley right that 2 weeks of Bryant wont be THAT much better then 2 weeks of replacement level players. Keeping a player down for 2 weeks has a bunch of benefits for the team: getting 1 more peak year out of player is important. Especially someone like Bryant who is considerd a special talent. Let’s see if the fans still find it unfair when he’s putting a MVP caliber season in his last pre-free agent season. Or on the flipside, let’s see how many fans are gonna cuss out the cubs if they don’t sign Bryant to a long term contract and see him depart in his age-29 season, and have a massive season for a divisonal rival, or any other team for that matter.

Michael Paniak
Guest
Michael Paniak
1 year 2 months ago

It’s a myth that Scott Boras’ clients do not sign long term contracts early. Especially the stellar ones. Wikipedia has a good summary showing this myth busted. If Bryant is great from the get go, he’ll sign long term.

MyTribe
Guest
1 year 2 months ago

And why are we crying because ballplayers like Porcello have to delay their “big payday” an extra year? Arbitration has become so amped up ballplayers get perpetual raises even when they put up the worst stats in the league. Once your young stars become arby eligible watch how quickly their salaries jack up to the point where your team may not even be able to afford them for their fifth or sixth year.

I’d like to see rosters increased to 27 so that a 35 years and older spot and a 40 years and older spot can be reserved for players that still have that one great skill fans want to see, A Thome pinch hit home run, a Kenny Lofton stolen base, a laser throw from Todd Hollandsworth to nail a ninth inning tying run sac fly scoring attempt.

JC Denton
Guest
JC Denton
1 year 2 months ago

As a fan, I’d rather things stay how they are if that keeps us from having an international draft.

Commie
Guest
Commie
1 year 1 month ago

Sad that the American past time is the most un-American labor market in the country.

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