The Reds just announced that Robert Stephenson will make Alfredo Simon’s start tonight. The veteran pitcher is suffering from bicep tendonitis.

This will be Stephenson’s second stint with the Reds this year. He was called up on Monday, April 4 to pitch on Thursday, April 7.

The call-up raises questions about Stephenson’s service time. Remember, per rules established in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, players must accumulate 172 days of service time for it to count as one year. [Post about how service time works.] Stephenson’s first trip to the majors earned him four days.

Big question: If Stephenson remains with the Reds all year now, would he reach a full year in service time?

Corrected: The answer is yes. 

Because Stephenson was on the 40-man roster and optioned back to AAA, if he spends fewer than 20 days in the minor leagues, that time is credited back to him. He must spend at least 20 days in AAA this year for 2016 to not count as a full season of service time. 

So because Stephenson has only been in AAA for 12 days, if the Reds keep him in the major leagues for the rest of the season (which they won’t, see below), he would accrue a year of service time.

There’s a separate issue of Stephenson’s arbitration clock. If he stays up, he’ll qualify for Super Two status and be eligible for four years of arbitration instead of three. That’s a money issue, not time. But it could easily cost the Reds millions of dollars.

I don’t expect Stephenson to stay with the major league team. Without Simon, the Reds starting roster is Raisel Iglesias, Jon Moscot, Brandon Finnegan and Dan Straily. The Reds expect Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani and John Lamb back in the next couple of weeks. Once one or two of them arrive, or if Simon’s health improves, expect Stephenson to be sent back down to Louisville.

The only circumstance that could cause the Reds to keep Stephenson in the majors after the rotation gets restocked would be if the organization has become impatient about the bullpen situation. Leaving Stephenson up would allow them to move Straily and Moscot and maybe Lamb to the bullpen.

Read this carefully: There are cheaper ways to conduct a panic-induced rebuild of the bullpen than blowing it on Robert Stephenson’s Super Two status.

Update: To make room for Stephenson on the 25-man roster, the Reds have optioned Jumbo Diaz to AAA Louisville.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 32 Comments

  1. Question for you Steve: Now that they have Stephenson under team control for an additional year based on service time, which I think is a bigger deal than the super 2 status, (easy to say since it is not my money to pay him that 4th year of arbitration), couldn’t they simply avoid the super 2 status by sending him back down in a month when everyone comes back healthy? Is the super 2 player category based on service time as well?

    • Yes, arbitration clocks (determining Super Two status) are based on service time accrual. So if the Reds want to avoid Stephenson becoming a Super Two, they can send him back down for a couple months.

      While Super Two status is about money not years of team control and it’s not our money, saving the organization maybe $10 million over four years could let them add another important piece in 2019 or 2020.

      Absolutely ZERO reason to leave Stephenson up after the rotation gets back to full. Not in a rebuilding year.

  2. Totally agree with you. Thanks for the info Steve!!

  3. I can see this as the first step in moving Simon to the pen with Stephenson staying up the 3 weeks to a month until Lamb/ Bailey/ Disco is ready to take the rotation spot.

    Given that Simon has the BP background, he is of an age where his best prospects for sticking around MLB and maximizing his income could well be as a reliever anyway. Thus, it shouldn’t cause a blow up on his end (not that this should be the team’s primary consideration anyway).

    • The Reds could do this and still save RS becoming a super 2 by sending him down until the AS break of thereabouts

      • Hopefully the Reds are able to trade one of Lamb, Lorenzen, Moscot or Descalafani for a hitting prospect around the All Star break. This would open up a spot for Stephenson (or Reed) to finish the year and prepare for contention in 2017 or 2018.

        I’d also be ok trading Bailey or Finnegan if we get a truly elite hitting prospect (maybe we can swap for Aaron Judge, who we should have demanded for Chapman…). The Reds need to infuse their talent pool with more hitting prowess, as a vast majority of their MLB ready talent is pitching. With Stephenson, Reed and Garrett in the pipeline, I don’t know why the Reds would waste time developing other young players just to replace them in the immediate future.

        • I expect none of what you said to happen, if any trades happen it will be Jay Bruce for a pitching prospect

        • Big56Dog…. Make that a RH pitching prospect. Aside from the two headline guys, Reed and Garrett, they are about as thin on LH pitching as they are on legitimate position player prospects who can hit significantly better than Hamilton 🙂

        • I said this in another thread: The pitcher to trade is DeSclafani. The fact that he has already had success at the major league level, is inexpensive and under contract through the 2020 season should make him very desirable by contending teams at this years trade deadline.

          A contender may not want Bailey because he is more expensive and coming off a major injury and they may not want Reed, Stephenson, etc. because of their youth and inexperience. A contending team would likely want someone they can for sure count on this season.

          The Reds could trade him and still have Bailey, Iglesias, Reed, Stephenson, Finnegan, Lorenzen, Lamb, and Moscot to chose from between the starting rotation and bullpen for the end of this season and next season with Garrett just a step behind in AAA.

    • I agree that once Simon is healthy and the 5 man rotation is set that he would be a good fit in the bullpen.

  4. Now that I understand the issue with service time I totally agree that he should not be up here all year. That being said… I am extremely happy that he is making a couple of starts until everyone gets back.
    My understanding is that the only way this can go sour if he gets hurt and has to go on DL.
    Correct?

    • yeah, if sour means him ending up a super 2. The only way that can happen out of the team’s control would be an injury that landed him on the DL too long to send him down for a long enough period to evade Super 2.

    • If I understand this right, Stephenson needs to spend 8 more days at AAA. It seems like he will only be needed for 1 more start- as they can skip it 4/28. They would only need a 5 th starter May 3rd, 8th, 17th, 23rd- which I would think you may need to consider another option by then. Too bad they need a 3rd and 4th starter

      • The Reds are saying (unofficially thru Jamey Ramsey) that Stephenson has been down long enough already (Steve says above with 1 day to spare) that the Reds have already assured 6 full years of control over Stephenson after this season.

        The amount of time for Super2 status can’t be that precisely determined in advance because it is a fixed % of players having more than 2 full years of MLB service time (344 days) and less than 3 full years of service time (516 days). Thus in any given year, both the number of players making Super2 and the minimum number of days required vary. Typically it the number of days falls into the range of the amount of time from the start of the season and middle June.

        • I corrected my initial post. Because of the way Stephenson was up then down then back up, the rule is a little different. My re-reading of the exception is that Stephenson will have to spend 20 days in AAA to not accrue a year of service time.

  5. Going for speed at the bottom of the lineup tonight.
    Holt in LF and batting 7th.
    BHam in CF batting 9th.
    Mesoraco at C and batting 6th.
    Cozart>Suarez>Votto>BP>Bruce>Mez>Holt>Stephenson>BHam.

    • I omitted “Also” in front of Mesoraco’s name. Not to confuse him with speed.

    • Looks like Schebler got his shot at a few days of playing time (and did nothing with it). Holt’s the next man up!

  6. Jumbo drew the short straw and is off to Louisville.

    So, will Stephenson stay and Simon go to the pen or will a reliever from the minors take Stephenson’s spot after this start???

    • I would bet that Simon goes on the DL and Stephenson stays up for 3-4 starts, is evaluated, and then optioned back to Louisville when the next starter comes off the DL.

      • That’s a real possibility too; but who do they bring up for the pen? The cupboard is pretty bare.

        • Drew Hayes maybe, if he is on the 40 man roster. I wouldn’t mind to see him get a shot.

          Riddle me this: At this point in the young season, what is harder to fathom with the Reds offense right now, that Jay Bruce has only 1 BB in 50 AB’s, or Zack Cozart has only 1 K in 33 AB’s?

        • Well, currently our bullpen is pretty bare, so anyone down there can’t do much worse than the group that we have now.

    • I am glad to see this. with all of the young arms that we have 9when healthy), Jumbo should not be on this team

  7. Layne.Somsen. The guy has allowed a .217 ba in professional baseball…..give him a shot?

    Brewers up 5-2 bottom 8 and allow 2 bombs now 5-5….that’s what bad teams do!

    • by that logic, the Reds would be a bad team…… wait ……. they are?

      • Except they don’t have any starters either? They might break records for runs allowed….esp since their place might be a bigger launching pad than GABP

  8. We shouldn’t get too hot and bothered about this. If by the end of the season he has the 172, then we can be upset and opine greatly about it.

    In the interim, let him come up get some low pressure starts, learn what he needs to polish at AAA, and let him come north(east) with the club in 2017 without getting jerked around the way bailey did.

  9. Obvious service time concerns aside, I’m glad to see Stephenson getting the start tonight because I missed his pro debut since it was a dumb Thursday day game! Work gets in the way of those!

  10. Should of went ahead and put Simon on the DL. Stephen Johnson is on the 40 man, otherwise can open a 40 man by adding skip worth to 60 day DL. Call up Somsen, d. Diaz, Dellabar, Pedro,Hayes, Ramirez, or Morris

  11. The folks over at Red Reporter haven’t got this figured out yet. I tried to register and link your post there but have to wait 24 hrs to post. http://www.redreporter.com/2016/4/19/11459718/robert-stephenson-cincinnati-reds#comments

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

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