Image via Through The Fence Baseball
Major League Baseball (MLB) has the unique system of salary arbitration to allow young players to be compensated before they hit the free agent market. Players typically must accrue three years of Major League service time – with one year of service time equaling 172 days on the 26-man roster or the Major League injured list – in order to become eligible for salary arbitration. Super Two is a designation that allows a select group of players to become eligible for arbitration before reaching three years of service time, and to qualify for this designation, players must rank in the top 22%, in terms of service time, among those who have amassed between two and three years in the big leagues.
Super Two eligibility varies by year and was a topic brought up by the MLBPA during the lockout and also during the subsequent collective bargaining negotiations. However, the system remains the same, and the cutoff number in the upcoming year is 2.128 years of service time (two years and 128 days), which is up from last year’s 2.116. Although the Super Two cutoff number has increased this year, this is not always the case. There have only been six increases from year to year since 2009.
All arbitration eligible players must come to terms with their respective clubs prior to January 13th, or they will have to exchange filing numbers and prepare for an arbitration hearing. This can be a challenging process that impacts a player’s relationship with his team because the team is forced to qualify the player’s value to make an argument for the lower number they filed. With the cutoff number set for 2.128 this year, clubs will have to negotiate carefully with young rising stars like Randy Arozarena and Tony Gonsolin to ensure they remain below the luxury tax, but also maintain their relationship with their key players.