MLB announced Wednesday that the Cubs’ Mike Fontenot had won a tiebreaker against Adam Jones and the Reds’ Micah Owings to become the last super-two arbitration-eligible player.
All three players had two years and 139 days of service time. Initial reports had the cutoff at 141 days, but that proved to be false.
As we touched on last month, Arizona’s Mark Reynolds was another young star who barely missed the cutoff. From that article:
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.
The Orioles don’t stand to gain quite as much as the Diamondbacks did with Reynolds, but Jones, who just claimed a Gold Glove on Monday, could have earned $3 million or so next year had he qualified for arbitration. Now he’ll probably receive $500,000-$600,000. The difference will also be felt in future years, as super-two players traditionally do better financially all of the way through their arbitration years.
As for Fontenot, the Cubs were already expecting him to qualify for arbitration. He probably won’t earn more than $1 million, but he doesn’t appear to be in the team’s plans anyway, and he could be traded or non-tendered this winter.
Other super-two players include Tim Lincecum, Hunter Pence and Matt Garza. The recently traded Carlos Gomez also made the cutoff, but the Brewers were accounting for that when they picked him up for J.J. Hardy. Alex Gordon is another super-two player. He was due to have three full years in before the Royals manipulated his service time in August to gain control of him for another year.
Craig covered the bulk of Rob Manfred’s quotes from earlier. The commissioner was asked about robot umpires and he’s not a fan. Via Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports:
Manfred was wrong to blame the player’s union’s “lack of cooperation” on proposed rule changes, but he’s right about robot umps and the strike zone. The obvious point is that robot umps cannot yet call balls and strikes with greater accuracy than umpires. Those strike zone Twitter accounts, such as this, are sometimes hilariously wrong. Even the strike zone graphics used on television are incorrect and unfortunate percentage of the time.
The first issue to consider about robot umps is taking jobs away from people. There are 99 umps and more in the minors. If robot umpiring was adopted in collegiate baseball, as well as the independent leagues, that’s even more umpires out of work. Is it worth it for an extra one or two percent improvement in accuracy?
Personally, the fallibility of the umpires adds more intrigue to baseball games. There’s strategy involved, as each umpire has tendencies which teams can strategize against. For instance, an umpire with a more generous-than-average strike zone on the outer portion of the plate might entice a pitcher to pepper that area with more sliders than he would otherwise throw. Hitters, knowing an umpire with a smaller strike zone is behind the dish, may take more pitches in an attempt to draw a walk. Or, knowing that information, a hitter may swing for the fences on a 3-0 pitch knowing the pitcher has to throw in a very specific area to guarantee a strike call or else give up a walk.
The umpires make their mistakes in random fashion, so it adds a chaotic, unpredictable element to the game as well. It feels bad when one of those calls goes against your team, but fans often forget the myriad calls that previously went in their teams’ favor. The mistakes will mostly even out in the end.
I haven’t had the opportunity to say this often, but Rob Manfred is right in this instance.
ESPN’s Howard Bryant is reporting that Major League Baseball has approved a rule allowing for a dugout signal for an intentional walk. In other words, baseball is allowing automatic intentional walks. Bryant adds that this rule will be effective for the 2017 season.
MLB has been trying, particularly this month, to improve the pace of play. Getting rid of the formality of throwing four pitches wide of the strike zone will save a minute or two for each intentional walk. There were 932 of them across 2,428 games last season, an average of one intentional walk every 2.6 games. It’s not the biggest improvement, but it’s something at least.
Earlier, Commissioner Rob Manfred was upset with the players’ union’s “lack of cooperation.” Perhaps his public criticism was the catalyst for getting this rule passed.
Unfortunately, getting rid of the intentional walk formality will eradicate the chance of seeing any more moments like this: