One of the unknowns throughout the season when it comes to a team’s young, controllable players is what the cutoff will be for service time for Super Two players. It’s why there’s generally a lot of talk surrounding stud prospects when May and June roll around each year — teams are guesstimating when the earliest they can bring a player up without starting their clock toward Super Two status will be.
According MLBTraderumors’ Tim Dierkes, the cutoff this year is expected to be two years and 146 days of service.
Basically what that means is any player with fewer than three years of service time in the major leagues — but more than two years, 146 days — is eligible for four years of arbitration instead of the standard three.
The official list of Super Two players has not been released but by MLBTraderumors’ calculations, there are 27 major leaguers eligible for Super Two status this offseason and three of them are Nationals in Jordan Zimmermann, Tyler Clippard and Roger Bernadina. UPDATE: The MLBTraderumors post on this topic has been amended this afternoon to exclude Bernadina from this list. However, Bernadina has exactly two years, 146 days of service, according to BaseballReference.com, so he would indeed qualify if that is where the cutoff is officially. The loophole here could be that players need to also serve at least 86 days on the major league roster that year and Bernadina who was shuttled between Syracuse and Washington a few times, only served 83.
If their list is indeed correct, what it means is that all three of those players have the ability to negotiate for their 2012 salary this offseason — which means they will cost the Nationals more than if they were simply renewing their contracts as all other pre-arbitration players do. It does not mean that they will become a free agent earlier down the road.
As far as their respective service time counts go, Bernadina just squeaks in with two years, 146 days of service. Clippard has racked up two years, 148 days and Zimmermann two years, 154 days.
Other than the obvious economical boon to the player, the only other major consequence of qualifying for Super Two status is that it can — in some cases — force a team to consider a non-tender. If a team has a player they’re considering whether or not he will be a part of their roster for the upcoming season, knowing that they’ll have to go to arbitration with that player this year — and that he’ll cost them more in the next four years before he reaches free agency — can be a deterrent.
What this means for the Nationals we’ll have to watch as it plays out in the coming weeks as the team and the players exchange figures.