Oct 20, 2009, 3:59 PM EDT
As we noted back in July, it was sure to go right down to the wire. As it turned out, Mark Reynolds’ two years and 138 days of service time wasn’t quite enough to make him a “super-two” arbitration eligible player. This year’s cutoff was two years, 141 days.
Under the rules of MLB, players with between three and six years of service time, as well as the top one-sixth of players with between two and three years, qualify for arbitration after every season. Those top one-sixth are known as “super-two” players, and that one rule is why we’ve seen teams so cautious about promoting prospects in April and early May during recent years.
Reynolds was called up from the majors on May 16, 2007, never to be sent down. Had the Diamondbacks chosen to promote him on May 13 instead, he’d likely be in line to earn at least $5 million next year. As is, Arizona could pay him as little as $500,000 or maybe up to $800,000 or so if the team is feeling generous.
Tim Lincecum, on the other hand, was called up on May 6, 2007, never to be sent down. Those extra seven days spent on the roster of a team that ended up finishing in last place will cost the Giants dearly. Lincecum figures to ask for something in the neighborhood of the $10 million Ryan Howard requested and received as a super-two player after 2007. Not only are the Giants going to spend $9 million more than they needed to on Lincecum next year, but that huge increase will continue to be reflected in future arbitration years and keep costing them down the road.
So, yeah, the Giants made a huge mistake. The Diamondbacks, though, weren’t nearly as sure what they had in Reynolds when a Chad Tracy injury led to his callup. They caught a big break in that they won’t have to pay for Reynolds’ ample production for another year. The $5 million that they might have spent on him can now go towards improving the rotation or the bullpen or for an upgrade at second base.
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