There are many reasons to be glad that Blake Snell—23 years of age, lately and currently of the Durham Bulls and recently of the Tampa Bay Rays—made his major league debut last weekend at Yankee Stadium. For one thing, it's great news for everyone in the Snell family: Blake, parents Dave and Jane, and brother Dru. For another, it's great for baseball fans: he's a good kid and will be fun to watch. All that can be safely filed under "Things That Are Good."The crazy part is, the players' union is complicit in this crock of shit. I remember Bryant spending a few weeks in the minors last year, but I didn't realize why he did. What a bunch of corrupt bullshit.
But it's also great news for the Rays, and not just because Snell is more likely than not to become a very good major league pitcher. No, it's good news for the Rays mostly because by calling Snell up for a start on Saturday instead of on, say, Friday, Tampa Bay guaranteed themselves, by dint of what can only be described as "service time fuckery," an additional year of Snell's services at a severely and artificially discounted price...
Here's the first thing you need to know: a "year" in the crazy, messed up world of big-league contracts isn't really a year in any normal sense of the word. A year in big-league service time actually corresponds to 172 days spent on a big-league roster, which is a few days shy of the 183 that make up an MLB season. And years of service time are important, because the collectively bargained agreement that governs the sport's labor practices dictate that a player's original team holds exclusive rights to his services for the first six "years" of his big-league career. Except, remember, not normal years. Stupid, bullshit, service-time not-quite-years.
That gives teams every incentive to game the system and keep service-time down during what we normal humans would call a player's first year. Why the hell wouldn't they? Keep a kid under 172 in his first year and you get another one tacked on to the end of the six you already had. Sure, there are rules saying you can't keep a player down for service time reasons alone, but unless execs are dumb enough to email each other saying that's what they're doing, those rules are basically impossible to enforce; this is how Kris Bryant spends a few weeks working on his defense (or whatever) at Triple-A before becoming Rookie of the Year. And, for Snell, a second relevant rule comes into play: if a player spends fewer than 20 days in the minors during the course of a season, whatever time he spends there is retroactively added to his big-league service time for that year.
So if the Rays had called Snell up on Friday, which was the 20th day of the season, rather than on Saturday, which was the 21st, he would have had all his time in Durham at the beginning of the year applied to his service clock, and thus would have been that much closer to achieving the key number of 172 in 2016. But since he was called up on Saturday, it's not a problem. The deadline has to fall somewhere, but the sketchiness is seldom this plain.
By calling him up literally not one day earlier, the Rays guaranteed that Snell, regardless of how much time he spends in the majors going forward—and he was returned to Durham immediately after the start, and so may have to wait a minute for his next shot—can accrue no more than 163 days of big-league service time in 2016; his free agency has already effectively been delayed by one year, from 2022 to 2023. Convenient how he turned out to be ready for the majors on a very day that was most profitable for his ownership group. The same misfortune befell Bryant last year. Funny world.
Monday, May 2, 2016
What a Scam