Super two players go to arbitration four times instead of three, so they make more money than their peers. This incentivizes teams to keep top young players in the minors for extra seasoning: clubs save millions in future seasons if their players don't qualify as super twos.
It's probably not a coincidence that Carlos Santana, Giancarlo Stanton and Stephen Strasburg were all called up within four days of one another in June of 2010. Those players now project to miss out on super two status this offseason because of the patience their teams showed two years ago.
This past offseason former top prospects Matt Wieters and Andrew McCutchen were among the players who narrowly missed out on super two status. Three years ago, when they were initially called up, it was apparent that their teams were likely working to avoid super two status. This isn’t to say teams always time call-ups based on service time — that's not at all true — but there’s no denying it’s a contributing factor with top prospects.
Sometimes teams build escalators into extensions for pre-arbitration eligible players who may qualify as super twos (yesterday we encountered one such deal). Here’s a look at how teams have valued super two status on recent contract:
- Evan Longoria, Rays – $1.5MM
- Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers – $2MM
- Madison Bumgarner, Giants – $5MM
- Ryan Braun, Brewers – $6MM
The value of super two status depends on many factors including the player’s performance and the timing of the deal. But if your favorite team keeps its top prospect in the minors until June, know that arbitration eligibility may well be a factor. Similarly, it’s easy to see why the MLBPA insisted on an increase in super two players in the most recent round of collective bargaining.