For several months, we’ve heard speculation about how service time/arbitration considerations might affect Jay Bruce’s call-up. The Padres are going through a similar thing with Chase Headley. Former Enquirer, and now S.D. Union-Tribune columnist Tim Sullivan looks at the issue today. If Sullivan’s numbers are to be trusted, there is almost no risk whatsoever that Jay Bruce will be arb-eligible until 2012. Here’s Sullivan’s primer:
Major league players automatically become eligible for salary arbitration after three seasons of service time — a major league season being defined as 172 days on the roster — but up to that point their bargaining power consists almost entirely of the word “Please.”
Yet baseball’s Collective Bargaining Agreement also provides arbitration eligibility to a small pool of those players with more than two years’ standing and less than three, the fortunate fellows who attain “Super Two” status.
The specific requirements fluctuate from year to year, but “Super Twos” represent the top 17 percent of those players with more than two years of service time and less than three, with the proviso that they log at least 86 days on the roster the previous season.
Last year’s cutoff was two years, 140 days. Howard qualified with two years, 145 days. Yet the historic range is sufficiently broad — since 1990, it has fallen variously from two years plus 128 days to two years plus 153 days — that roster decisions become exceedingly delicate this time of year.
The Cincinnati Reds could afford to promote phenom Jay Bruce Tuesday because he was starting his service clock from scratch. Headley, however, earned 19 days on the Padres’ roster last season and could accumulate as many as 142 days of total service by season’s end if he were called up Wednesday.
By my calculations, Bruce will have 124 days of service time, if he’s on the roster until the season’s final day (May – 5 days; June – 30; July – 31; Aug – 30; Sept – 28).