Matt Moore’s Service Time

The Rays' season is over, but Desmond Jennings and Matt Moore showed late this year that the 2012 edition of the team should once again feature electrifying talent. Even Tampa Bay players seem eager to see what Moore can do over the course of an entire season. One of them jokingly suggested to Yahoo's Jeff Passan that he'll take action if Moore isn't on the Rays' Opening Day roster next year.

"If they do that, I'll file a grievance," the player said.

Judging by Moore's minor league accomplishments and Major League success, he has earned the chance to continue pitching in the Majors. The 22-year-old lefty posted a 1.92 ERA with 12.2 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 in 155 minor league innings this year, solidifying his place as one of the top pitching prospects in the game. Minor league hitters weren't the only ones who struggled to hit Moore; in 19 1/3 MLB innings (regular season and playoffs combined), he replicated his minor league success, posting a 1.86 ERA with 10.8 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9.

It's no secret that the Rays are struggling financially. Owner Stuart Sternberg said the Rays' revenue and stadium situation is "untenable as a model going forward," so every dollar and year of control matters a great deal in Tampa Bay. If the upcoming collective bargaining agreement doesn't adapt the current rules regarding arbitration and free agent eligibility, there would be an incentive for Tampa Bay to keep Moore in the minor leagues for a month to start next year – it would delay his arrival on the free agent market.

He picked up 17 days of service time in 2011, which means he'll have a full year of service after 2012 if he spends 155 days or more on the MLB roster or DL next year (pending the upcoming CBA). The MLB season generally lasts a little more than 180 days, so the Rays could ensure that Moore falls short of 155 days by optioning him to Durham for a month or so. He doesn't appear to need the seasoning, but that month would delay his free agency by one year (from 2017 to 2018).

This is not to imply that service time will be the lone, or primary consideration for the Rays in 2012. There are even baseball related reasons for keeping Moore in the minors (limiting innings, the diminished importance of fifth starters in April). The Rays want to win and have a team capable of contending again next year, so service time isn't everything. Plus, if they cared that much about delaying arbitration payouts and free agency, they would never have called Moore up to begin with.

Injuries, offseason moves and the CBA will presumably influence the Rays decision as well as service time. But for a team that can't afford free agent aces, the idea of extending control over top homegrown arms will likely have appeal.

19 Responses to Matt Moore’s Service Time Leave a Reply

  1. Time to change this crazy rule. It robs prospects of major league time for a month or two when they are clearly ready and are wasting time in Triple-A. (I think of Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, Evan Longoria) who all missed a couple weeks or months of time in their rookie year.

    • EdinsonPickle 4 years ago

      I couldn’t agree with you more.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      Its also teams abusing the rule..

      Moore should have cracked the club at the beggining of the year and desmond should have been called up the second sam fuld remembered he wasn’t rickey henderson

      • notsureifsrs 4 years ago

        i can see the argument for jennings, but moore hadn’t even cracked AA at the beginning of the year

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          That’s how good he is, I thought he already dominated AA/

    • Evan dolan 4 years ago

      longoria missed like 6 days…but yes, it would have been a month if willy aybar didn’t get injured in ’08

  2. Gator4444 4 years ago

    So what’s the most amount of time rookies like Cole, Hultzen and Bauer can get next year without using up a year of their 6 years of ML control?  Thx…

  3. Jose_Bautista 4 years ago

    Teams being cheap and sending good talented players down to minors who deserve to be in majors is PATHETIC!

    Rules needs to change!

  4. Why not start him the Majors and send him down for a month the second he starts to struggle?  Either he is a legit MLB starter or the Rays can send him down for a month to delay his service time without a grievance being filed.  Its a win win to me.

    • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

      what if he doesn’t struggle?

      • EdinsonPickle 4 years ago

        8 yr 12 million dollar deal with 7 club options.

        • Lunchbox45 4 years ago

          I’m sure Evan Longoria would talk him out of that lol

    • Mario Saavedra 4 years ago

      it’s not a win win when your top prospects struggle and have their self esteem crushed. better to have them 100% ready when you are going to call them.

      • FreeMee 4 years ago

        Gotta be tough to shake a guy’s confidence who pitched a gem in game one of the ALDS on the road against the Rangers.

  5. slider32 4 years ago

    Moore is the real deal, but I wouldn’t compare him to the average rookie. It looks like it’s time for Shields to go to make room for him. The Rays would be smart to get a good player for him instead of prospects. Players like Either, Ellsbury, Hensley, Morrison, Freeman, or Morse.

    • I agree – trade Shields.  His value will never be higher because his success this year is unsustainably high.  Don’t get me wrong – he’s a very good pitcher, but more of a 3.50 ERA type.  I was thinking of Morse or perhaps Adam Jones. 

  6. Bones 4 years ago

    Until the rule is changed TB should protect itself and send him down for a month and a half to begin the year. Not saying I like it but if you where the GM you would do the same.

  7. TimotheusATL 4 years ago

    for tampa, it most likely is about the money, though. dat stadium.

  8. Mario Saavedra 4 years ago

    he’d still earn super 2 status, so the deserved money will be paid.

Leave a Reply