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Thursday, November 26, 2015

Conflicted: fans, teams, maybe even players - over service time rules.

Two recent posts had me annoyed with the Yankees and sympathetic to the players: Greg Bird and Rob Refsnyder.

Greg Bird: is he being sent to the minors in 2016 so the Yankees can limit his free agency and salary arbitration eligibility? Monday, November 23, 2015 1:00 AM 

"If Bird begins the year in AAA and remains there for at least 2 weeks, then NYY could delay his eligibility for FA (free agency) for one additional year. In order to prevent Bird from getting early arbitration eligibility, they would need to keep him the in minors thru mid-June (most likely)."

Rob Refsnyder: will he start 2016 in the minors for the same reason as Greg Bird: service time? Monday, November 23, 2015 9:14 AM 

... does it mean that teams, including the Yankees, will do it with any young players they consider potential starters who could be paid much more than the minimum?

I instinctively sided with the players.  I also was annoyed that the Yankees would not be fielding their best team.  But after I had thought about it, Yankee management might have a point.  Keeping good young players an extra year helps the team in the long run, especially if the only down side for the team is that it does not have those players for relatively short periods.

I was conflicted.

Team management must also be conflicted.  They want to win, especially now when their jobs are on the line.  They are sacrificing the current season for additional control six years from now.  Even salary arbitration is four years away.

So how might the players be conflicted?  Young players would not be.  But veteran players have nothing to gain from making this an issue  You're only young once, particularly in this context.  This young v. old conflict has applied to many issues for many years.  To their credit the baseball players have been pretty unified.

Still it's a bit unfair for major league players to be setting the rules that apply exclusively to minor league players, most of whom cannot vote as union members.

Major League Baseball Players Association


FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) answers:

The MLBPA is the collective bargaining representative for all current Major League Baseball players...

All players, managers, coaches and trainers who hold a signed contract with a Major League club are eligible for membership in the Association. In collective bargaining, the Association represents around 1,200 players, or the number of players on each club's 40-man roster, in addition to any players on the disabled list...

In 2013, the average salary was $3,386,212.

A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

A player with six or more years of Major League service who has not executed a contract for the next season is eligible to become a free agent.

Since 1974, and including 2012, arbitrators have ruled on behalf of the players 214 times and clubs 286 times. Although the number of players filing for salary arbitration varies per year, the majority of cases are settled before the arbitration hearing date. Approximately 90 percent of the players filing for arbitration typically reach new agreements before a hearing.

The current CBA expires on Dec. 1, 2016.

I may have missed it but I did not read how a player gets voting rights.  If there were a vote now, would Bird be eligible after 46 games?  How about Refsnyder with 16 games?  Probably since both are on the 40 man roster.  But the Yankees just made a couple of changes to that roster with players with no major league experience.  Apparently the players removed would not be able to vote.

The Chicago Cubs played their first 2015 game Sunday April 5; Cubs lost at home to the Cardinals 3-0.  Kris Bryant made his major league debut with the Cubs Friday April 17, 2015; Cubs lost at home 5-4 to the Padres.  The Cubs were then 5-4.  It was widely understood that Bryant had started the 2015 season in the minors so that Bryant would have this status:

Service Time (01/2016)
Arbitration Eligible: 2018
Free Agent: 2022
Photo of Kris Bryant
See that was easy.  Cubs play without their prize kid for eight games but gain a year in the two big categories.  Cubs fans were concerned that the games played without Bryant might cost the team dearly.  Cubs fans were a bit upset at the time but it all ended well.  Cubs won 97 and made it to the semi-final series.  Bryant was voted Rookie of the Year.  But wait ...

We're back where we started:
- team benefits
- so fans benefit
- player gets screwed.

Do we fans really like our players?  Clearly we do not.  We resent that they make so much money.  We reject safety rules.  We hate player agents who do a good job.  At best we're conflicted.

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