This year’s Super Two cutoff point has been set at precisely two years and 116 days of service, MLBTR’s Tim Dierkes has learned. This marker will affect the financial value for players with between two and three years of service time.
For example, Yordan Alvarez, with two years and 113 days of service time, will just miss the cutoff, meaning the Astros slugger will not be eligible for arbitration until next offseason. On the other hand, Brewers infielder Luis Urias has two years and 120 days of service time, so he qualifies as a Super Two player and will head to arbitration for the first of four trips this winter.
Broadly, Super Two designation is one of the innumerable quirks to the ever-confounding (current) arbitration system. For the unfamiliar, Major League players earn “service time” for every day spent on an MLB roster. One year of MLB service is defined as 172 days, despite the fact that there are more days than that in the regular season.
Upon reaching three years of service time, all players become eligible for salary arbitration. Prior to that point, teams are effectively able to set (most) player salaries at any rate they wish, so long as it is north of the league minimum. Many teams have formulas they use to determine pre-arbitration salaries, and it’s quite rare for pre-arb players to earn even $1MM, barring a long-term extension. Arbitration is the first point at which players and their agents can begin negotiating with teams regarding their salary, though arbitration prices still typically fall shy of open-market value.
The “Super Two” wrinkle further complicates matters. The top 22 percent of players (in terms of total service time) with between two and three years of service also are considered eligible for arbitration and termed “Super Two” players. Any player who falls into that service bucket and spent at least 86 days of the preceding season on a 25-man roster or the Major League injured list become eligible a year early and then go through the arbitration process four times.
That fourth arb-eligible year puts a player in line for some extra salary immediately, and potentially millions more in earnings as their salaries continue to escalate through the arbitration process. Of course, since teams’ manipulation of service time has been such a point of contention for the players’ union, it remains to be seen if the current Super Two system will remain in place through the next round of Collective Bargaining Agreement talks.
For comparison’s sake, here are the Super Two cutoff points for the last 12 years….
- 2020: 2.125
- 2019: 2.115
- 2018: 2.134
- 2017: 2.123
- 2016: 2.131
- 2015: 2.130
- 2014: 2.133
- 2013: 2.122
- 2012: 2.140
- 2011: 2.146
- 2010: 2.122
- 2009: 2.139