also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -
When I’ve been asked this offseason when I thought that Kyle Gibson would be promoted to the Twins, my response has been late-June, maybe July. If you’ve been reading this site for any period of time, the typical follow-up is that it doesn’t make sense to bring him up until there is no concern about him being a Super-2 candidate.
I thought I’d take a step back and make sure that everyone understands what that means, but also look at Gibson and other similar scenarios. I will use Gibson in many of the examples because he is the current player who Twins fans are wondering about, but just a year ago, the Twins waited until June to promote Danny Valencia. Buster Posey was promoted in June by the Giants last year. Matt Weiters was promoted in June of 2009.
Let’s start with when a player becomes arbitration-eligible. From MLB.com:
A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a “Super Two” and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.
86 Days essentially puts them to the end of June. Of those players that were called up by that time, the 17% with the most service time are Super-2s. That is why a lot of teams wait until June because they are generally more likely to not reach Super-2 status. It is possible that the date will be later each year for awhile because most, if not all, organizations are following this philosophy with its top prospects. More teams are being brutally honest about the reason now. What does it mean in terms of dollars?
Here is a chart with estimated salaries:
|Year||Gibson’s Age||Full Season or Super 2||Up in June, Not Super 2|
The chart illustrates what we have talked about before, that by getting past the Super 2 date; the team saves money in that fourth year. I use $3 million, but that’s assuming that Gibson pitches to a level similar to Kevin Slowey (who made $2.7 million in his first year of arbitration). Doesn’t this just make a lot of sense?
But what if we expand this chart to look at probably the even more important factor in why Kyle Gibson should not start the season with the Minnesota Twins.
|Year||Gibson’s Age||Full Season or Super 2||Up in June, Not Super 2|
More important, the Twins would have one more year of Gibson before he could become a free agent. Obviously these dollars values are all estimates, and this is making an assumption that a long-term contract is not worked out to buy-out some arbitration and/or free agency years.
So, if the Twins don’t care about Super 2 status, they really should be sure to wait a few days before calling up Gibson. If he were to be called up in late April, he would likely be a Super 2 and would be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2014. However, since he would not have six full years of service time at the end of the 2016 season, he still would not be a free agent until after the 2017 season.
One such example happened with the Rays and Evan Longoria. He did not make the Rays 2008 opening day roster, but on April 12th, he debuted with the big league club. He would have been a Super 2, and probably would have been eligible for arbitration four years. However, on April 18th, just six days after his debut, the Rays and Longoria agreed on a six year, $17.5 million contract with options for 2014 and 2015 and 2016. Such a team-friendly, long-term contract meant that none of the above arbitration/free agency years) matters.
So, even if the Twins would decide that Kyle Gibson should be in the starting rotation to start the season, the smartest thing would be to send him to Rochester, and then add him to the 40-man roster and call him up four days later. Again, that would mean that his service time would be just shy of six years after the 2016 season, and the Twins would get an extra season before he hit free agency. Gibson would get a fourth year of arbitration, but he would be under Twins control for an extra season.
That isn’t being ‘cheap,’ it’s just being smart.
Finally, there are many reasons to wait to promote Kyle Gibson to the big leagues that go beyond the financial, although that is clearly very important. The Twins have six starting pitchers right now who have all experienced some level of success over the last couple of years. In fact, I think we could say that Glen Perkins has had some success in the big leagues as a starter and as he is out of options, he deserves another crack at a roster spot. The Twins will give every opportunity to Scott Diamond to make the roster. Eric Hacker was brought in and put on the 40 man roster. Jeff Manship and even Anthony Swarzak have pitched well at times with the Twins. The Twins have options that deserve an opportunity at the start of the season.
Kyle Gibson will be a big league pitcher. Having depth allows the team to be more patient with him, as well. We seem to forget that 2010 was Gibson’s first full season. He moved from Ft. Myers to New Britain, and ended the season with three starts in Rochester. Giving him a couple more months to continue to work on some things can only benefit him. As he pitched about 150 innings last year, the Twins would certainly prefer to keep him to about 175-180 innings in 2011, and they can control his innings for the first couple of months in Rochester to keep him strong through the rest of the season.
As terrific as we think that Gibson will be, like any pitching prospect, we won’t know until he is there. And, most pitching prospects don’t come up and have an immediate huge impact. Gibson will come up when he is ready, and at that time, he will have four big league pitches. He will induce a lot of ground balls. He has incredible makeup and mound presence. He has a chance to be pretty good.
When the Twins season reaches June, we will have much better idea of what holes the team has in its lineup, in the bullpen and maybe in the rotation. If Gibson is pitching well at that time and someone in the rotation is struggling, the Twins will not hesitate to bring him up.
Hopefully this helps illustrate a little better the arbitration and Super-2 terminology. Again, I used Kyle Gibson as the example because that is what people are talking and asking about now. But this is also a theme we are hearing all around baseball as teams are not afraid to talk about it out loud. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to discuss in the comments section.
- Last night’s SethSpeaks.net Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast was about ½ hour of me and Cody Christie (North Dakota Twins Fan) talking about a bunch of Twins topics. Check it out.
- Following the podcast, I answer Twins-related question in a Live chat for about two hours. Lots of good questions. You can read the transcript here.
- Seth’s Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook 2011 is now available online here. For just $14.95, you get 170 page of Twins minor league content.
- Edited by John and featuring the entire TwinsCentric crew and several more of your favorite Twins writers, the Maple Street Press Twins Annual 2011 is now available for pre-order here. Pre-ordering means that you will get it before it reaches news stands, and you won’t have to stand in line to pick yours up!!
- 100 Things Twins Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die is a new book which will be available March 1. Twins writer Alex Halsted is the author, and I’m told I may have a cameo.