By: Noah Wright
Most recently, MLB ready prospects aren’t receiving big league promotions, even when they’re crushing the ball in the high minor league levels. Most notably is Vlad Guerrero Jr., and Eloy Jimenez. The main reason why teams aren’t calling up these players is service time issues. You see, if The Jays and White Sox calls up Vlad and Jimenez, or other teams call-up their big time prospects now, they won’t get an extra year of control of that player. It’s all because of the new CBA. That’s also why you don’t see big time promotions right of of Spring Training,and that player gets called-up in mid-April. So with that being stated, that’s why some people see service time becoming a problem. But is it truly something we have to worry about that much?
Let’s first look at it from a the prospect’s point of view. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is probably one of the most talented prospects baseball has seen in a long time. Between double-A and Triple-A (with a 4 game sample from low-A and rookie ball), Vlad is hitting .381/.437/.636 with 20 home runs and 78 stolen bases. He was even hitting for a .402 average in double-A earlier this season. While his defense has been slightly spotty at third, he more than warrants a major league call-up. And if you’re Vlad Jr., you’re probably wondering why you didn’t get to get your sample amount of time in The Majors with a September promotion. This is one of the major points brought up by people when talking about service time issues. Stuff like this is doing a player who’s having an amazing minor league season unjustice my not giving him a call to The Bigs. While it also affects the player, it also affects the agent, a reason why some have been vocal about The CBA’s service time policy.
Now let’s take a look at it from The MLB team’s point of view. Before Josh Donaldson was traded, the team knew that Vlad would take one of 2 spots, or maybe even a third: Donaldson’s third base position, Kendrys Morales’ DH role, or potentially Justin Smoak’s first base position. If you were a guy like Morales, how would you feel with this new rookie taking over your position, and limiting you to a semi-regular role, even if you’re still a capable major league player contributing to the team positively in terms of baseball production?
The last view I want to look at is from the front office’s/owner’s point of view. From here, you can understand why they do this. The team can gain an extra year of affordable control of a young player with a high ceiling. Whether the prospect turns out good, or they floop at the major league level, the FO has no risk, especially when it’s a team that’s not in contention, to keep that player in the minors a little longer.
On the final line, I don’t think this isn’t a problem that needs to be fixed immediately. While I do think they should look into changing something with The CBA’s service time policy, I think there are other things that require more focus right now. I would rather see MLB officials work on how to keep the game popular without major changes to pace of play than service time.