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Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Is the New CBA Really Combating Service Time Manipulation? Sort Of.

Last year’s class made a far more powerful case that service manipulation was on its way out; five top-50 prospects made their debuts in the first few days of the season, and Rutschman and Greene could well have been among them if not for injury. Rodríguez and Rutschman both won bonuses for their high finish in Rookie of the Year voting, and Rutschman was made whole by the new CBA awarding him a full season of service time for only 138 days in the majors.

Only one top-50 prospect made it to Opening Day in 2021, the last year of the old CBA. That probably has something to do with the old rule set and something to do with the fact that two-thirds of this prospect class said “Macbeth” in a theater while opening an umbrella on Friday the 13th.

If we’re looking for a real historical turning point, 2019 is it. In a strong rookie class, four top-50 prospects with no major league experience made the roster out of camp. That spring, I wrote that the service time manipulation epidemic had reached an untenable level of brazenness. I was happy to be proved partially wrong when Tatis, Alonso, and Paddack made their respective teams out of camp to huge fanfare, even if Guerrero had to wait another month for his debut.

But the big number here is not that four top-50 prospects debuted in the first days of the 2019 season; it’s that eight more followed them. That kind of separation hasn’t been repeated in any subsequent season, and that’s the key figure here. It’s one thing for a rookie to need more time in the minors. It’s another for a rookie to be ready and twiddle his thumbs in Triple-A for six weeks until the service time ticker drops under 172. Not only is it tantamount to wage theft, but it’s also anti-competitive. Prospects should be promoted to the majors when they’re ready — no earlier, no later.


RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: March 29, 2023 at 09:13 AM | 0 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: service time

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