It’s Time For The Boys Of Summer
I know the girls state high school basketball tournament is this week, and I don't want to slight the ladies, but with the high temperatures of the last week I can't help but think of baseball season. We have spring training reports beginning at 4:25 each afternoon this week, and I stopped by for a peek at Target Field when I was covering the boys high school basketball tournament last week.
News over the weekend that the Twins sent down outfielder Byron Buxton didn't please me very well. The Twins gave Buxton only eight at-bats over four Grapefruit League games. He had one hit and two walks and struck out three times. Seriously? We can tell if this guy can hit major league pitching by seeing him in eight at-bats? General Manager Terry Ryan noted the 21-year-old missed most of last season with injuries and said he needs more development. Ryan also indicated third baseman Miguel Sano will be joining him soon in minor league camp. The 21-year-old Sano has clobbered two moonshot homers in 10 Grapefruit League at-bats and, of course, the Twins don't need any power hitters on their team.
Do you think we would get a better idea of how ready these guys are if we let them have 24 at-bats? There are 32 spring training games for the Twins. Maybe a couple of at-bats in 12 games? Minnesota has had four straight 90-plus loss seasons, and don't appear to want to bring up any potential superstars, so they aren't eligible for a big payday too soon.
The baseball transaction rules are about as difficult to understand as calculus, for me anyway. I'll oversimplify this. A newly drafted player who is not added to the 40-man roster is bound to his team's minor league system for at least four seasons in the minor leagues. minor league teams are limited to 38 players for AAA, 37 for AA and 35 for all other levels. Players who are on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man active roster are said to be on "optional assignment." A minor leaguer doesn't begin to accrue major league service time until he reaches the 25-man active roster. Once a player is added to the 25-man active roster for the first time, he begins to have major league service time on his record.
There are many more transaction rules. Once a player is placed on the 40-man roster for the first time, the team has option years on the player. In each option year, the team can send the player to a minor league team. The player may be called up and sent down as many times as a team wishes during an option year. The option year is used up if he spends 20 or more days in the minors. A player sent down to the minors cannot be called back up for at least 10 days unless another player (position does not matter) is placed on the disabled list, the season ends or he is traded. One year of major league service time is accrued for every 172 days in a season (there are roughly 182 days in a typical season). This is measured to the last day of the regular season, with no credit given in the off-season. That's why teams wait until late in the season to bring up some of their prospects.
After a player accrues three years of major league service time, he becomes eligible for salary arbitration. A player with more than two years of major league service time can also become eligible for salary arbitration beginning in his third year if he is among the top 17 percent in service time among all players who have between two and three years. These players are also known as "super two's." There's minor league free agency and, of course, major league free agency, and in both cases this happens after six years of service.
Get all that? I printed off the service time and transaction rules for major league baseball and it's five pages long. Give me some peanuts and cracker jacks, a cold beer and a hot dog and forget about the transaction rules. I want to watch some good young players like Buxton and Sano when I get to Target Field.