During the broadcast of Saturday’s Mets-Marlins game, Gary Cohen and Keith Hernandez had a long discussion about why Zack Wheeler was not brought up to replace an ailing Jonathon Niese for that day’s start. They touched on many reasons, but I was shocked that they were even having the conversation at all. It is all about his Super 2 status. And you know that’s true because Sandy Alderson insists it is not. Either way, it is time to end this Super 2 and free agency clock nonsense once and for all. The solution is rather simple.
The current rules are a bit convoluted, so I will explain. A player can be a free agent after gaining six years of service time in the majors. A year of service time is defined as being on the major league roster for 172 days.
A player is eligible for arbitration after three years in the majors. However, there is this “Super 2” status, which is defined on the MLB website thusly:
A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent… in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service.
Teams are very good about getting around these rules and depriving players of a year of service. A major league season is around 185 days, so if a player is kept in the minors for the first couple of weeks of the season, he will not get a year of service. His free agency would be delayed by a year, but he would eventually be a Super 2 (think Ike Davis, who was brought up at the end of April 2010).
As far as the Super 2, teams often bring up players mid-season after the deadline passes, which is usually around June 15 (think Matt Harvey, who was brought up last July 26, far beyond the Super 2 deadline).
Despite their protestations to the contrary, the Mets are determined to deny Wheeler an extra year of arbitration. Consider this: Davis is making $3 million this season. If he was not a Super 2, he would probably be making around $750,000, if that much. There is a lot of money at stake for the clubs.
But it also is screwing with the players’ careers, and that is not fair. The simple solution is to change what constitutes a year of service time and just do away with the Super 2 altogether.
I propose that a year of service time should be awarded if a player is on the 25-man roster for more than 30 days (not including a September call-up) in a season. I picked this number deliberately because a team should be allowed to recall a player twice to fill in for injured players on the 15-day disabled list without being penalized.
This way, if a team thinks a player is ready, he can start the season with the big club instead of biding his time in the minors until these deadlines pass.
The players union would surely go for this, but the teams likely would not. They should, though, because they might benefit.
The Angels did this with Mike Trout last season, bringing him up in late April. The Angels got off to a horrible start and took off after Trout was added to the lineup. They eventually missed the playoffs by four games. Perhaps if Trout started the season with the team, they would have won those four games. This will allow teams to field their best teams at the beginning of the season without worrying about starting these clocks.
Now, teams will certainly manipulate this as well, bringing up some players in the first week of August. But for a player who is truly ready, and a team that is truly trying to win, August is just to late.
This idea is just common sense. So of course, MLB would never go for it.