This year's projected Super Two cutoff is two years, 128 days of service time — typically written as 2.128 — according to Ryan Galla of CAA Baseball (Twitter link). Before we get into the candidates to reach this status in 2014, here's a quick refresher on Super Two status for those who are unfamiliar with the term.
Players with at least three but less than six years of Major League service are considered arbitration eligible. Additionally, a player with at least two years but less than three is eligible for arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and ranks in the top 22 percent in total service in the two-to-three-years service class; these players are referred to as "Super Two" players. The current collective bargaining agreement, which went into effect December 12th, 2011, raised that Super Two cutoff percentage from 17 percent to 22 percent, and that 22 percent of players will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of the standard three times. Also bear in mind that for MLB purposes, 172 days is the equivalent of one year of Major League service time.
Among the current Major League players that would qualify for this distinction following a full season in the Majors are Alex Presley (1.162 as of Opening Day), Josh Donaldson (1.158), Erik Kratz (1.158), Zach Britton (1.158), Kelvin Herrera (1.157), David Phelps (1.156), Tony Campana (1.155), Drew Smyly (1.154), Dee Gordon (1.154), Darin Mastroianni (1.149), Garrett Richards (1.148) Casey Fien (1.143), Jenrry Mejia (1.140), Pedro Beato (1.134), Marwin Gonzalez (1.133), DJ LeMahieu (1.128), Drew Hutchison (1.128), Anthony Recker (1.128) and Eduardo Escobar (1.128). Of course, not all of those names will stick in the Majors long enough to achieve Super Two status.
There are also a number of players that are in the minor leagues with one- and two-plus years of service that could be recalled in 2014 and achieve the status, although it's important to note that a player must accrue at least 86 days of service time in a season to achieve Super Two status at season's end. A player such as Eduardo Nunez, for example, who is in the minors for the Twins but has 2.117 days of service, would not achieve Super Two status simply for receiving a September call-up.
For some context on this year's cutoff, here's a look at the cutoffs from the previous five years:
- 2013: 2.122
- 2012: 2.139
- 2011: 2.146
- 2010: 2.122
- 2009: 2.139
One player of note is Bryce Harper, who, at 1.159 years of service, should be a prime candidate to achieve Super Two status. However, as reported by the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore back in November, the Nationals and Harper have an unresovled contract issue stemming from this very situation. Harper signed a Major League deal out of the draft — something that is no longer possible given the changes to the most recent collective bargaining agreement. At the time the deal was being finalized, the Nationals and agent Scott Boras were unable to come to an agreement on what would happen to Harper's 2015 salary were he to qualify as a Super Two player following the 2014 season. As it stands, his contract does not allow him to opt out of his $1MM salary in 2015 in favor of arbitration. (That salary will almost certainly rise to $2MM due to roster bonuses.) Because an agreement wasn't reached, the sides agreed to revisit the matter if it became an issue and have the situation resolved via a grievance hearing. That could be an outcome now, though an extension or further compromise could also avoid a hearing.
Should Harper be unable to head to arbitration next winter, it could cost him millions, and not just in the 2014-15 offseason. Harper has already done enough to top a $2MM first-time arbitration payday. By earning $2MM in 2015, though, he would not only lose the $2-3MM he would have earned via arbitration, he would also take a hit on future arbitration salaries due to the fact those figures would be based, in part, off of the previous year's arbitration earnings. Instead of having a baseline north of $4MM for his 2016-18 arbitration cases, he'd be starting with a baseline of $2MM.
There is zero chance the Nationals go to a grievance hearing with Bryce Harper. They’ll either grant him arbitration or reach some sort of extension (just arb years, Boras won’t extend long-term). I think that was the conclusion of the original Washington Post report by Kilgore, too.
With Boras as his agent, a grievance hearing is certainly a possibility. It wouldn’t be Boras first grievance hearing and its doubtful he will lower his absurd asking prices to get an extension done, even if it just for Harper’s arb years.
No, it’s not. The grievance would be about the Nationals refusing Harper arbitration. They could simply grant him arbitration and avoid the hearing. That will almost certainly happen, if an extension can’t be reached. His agent really doesn’t matter all that much in the whole thing.
Super two is a bad thing for baseball. I hope it goes away. I’m sick of the top level talent having to sit in AAA for two, three, or four extra months just to save the dumb arb money. Most of these players aren’t even going to finish their arb years, anyhow. They are going to get locked up in contracts that buy out arb years, plus a year or three of free agency. The rules should be rewritten to account for this. Spending more time in AAA should be based upon readiness for MLB, not to save money in arbitration.
Certain teams will always try to get the best outcome. No matter where the cutoff is teams will always push right up to the barrier. There is no real solid basis for saying when a player is ready for the majors. The super 2 rules allow for the player to make it to the majors faster, without the team having to truly give up a year of control.
Just look at the 19 players listed there. Out of them Donaldson and Smyly are the only good players. The rest of them are pretty much backend starters, bottom order hitters, and bullpen arms, that were pushed to the majors because of need. Teams are smarter about their top prospects, but these players aren’t going to be signing extensions. Most of these will be players that make up the bulk of free agency, the role players. Phelps has value, but he isn’t the type of player the Yankees will be rushing to lockup, and frankly they won’t care if they lose him to eventual free agency. There is too much risk in signing him to a contract, because his best is probably a solid bullpen arm, and most teams can replace that easy. You don’t give extensions to lesser players because they aren’t good enough over your AAA players to take on the risk.
MLB incentives should go to teams that are putting the best possible team on the field, not to those who play these metagames with roster construction. When high end prospects are sitting in AAA just because teams are afraid of some totally arbitrary rule kicking into effect, something has gone wrong.
One possible solution is delaying the beginning of the minor league season. It would answer a lot of issues with MLB, with the potential problem of forcing minor league teams to compete with football in the fall. Staggering the beginning of minor league season would:
A: push roster expansion to the first month of the season, as opposed to last month, giving every team extra flexibility without hurting the legitimacy of the game.
B: players will become used to pitching to October
C: late season call ups will not push against inning and pitch limits for pitchers, they will be set on course to pitch to October regardless of their call up.
D: Call ups would occur a month later into the season (making super 2 essentially irrelevant).
E: Extended spring training for players who are injured or rehabbing (spring training would be open from February until May).
The major downsides would be:
A: competing with college football for attention in the fall
B: potential bad weather in the fall
C: potential loss of ticket sales, due to minor league season opening in May.
Oh, another potential solution: super 2 players give you a bonus draft pick + bonus draft money.
Yeah, you have to pay the dude a few million more, but you get an extra sandwich pick! That’d be neat, right?
And you think the system is gamed now. Look at these players that are super 2, most of them are not top talent. Start rewarding draft picks for having super 2 players, it won’t be the top prospects being brought up. It will most likely be more of these scrubs. Since it only includes the top 22% of players service time wise, you will always have a cutoff.
Alright, then just give draft bonus to people who earn over x million in super 2 arb. That way it only applies to top talent.
You could argue that teams gaming service time clocks made Super Two status a necessity in the first place.
Oh shoot. Completely forgot that Drew Hutchison already had that much service time… time flies when you’re on the DL.