When Baseball Becomes BlackJack: The Trick of the Super Two Rule
As many of you have heard, Zack Wheeler is on the cusp of being called up and the reason that this day was not sooner was because the New York Mets don`t want to pay him. For many Mets fans the Super Two rule is an unknown rule, however, for teams like the Athletics, Rays, and Padres the Super Two rule has been their bread and butter for years.
So what is the Super Two Rule? The Super Two rule is a rule that protects clubs from players attempting to negotiate, or renegotiate, their contracts after one or two years of MLB service. But players can be eligible for salary arbitration if they 1. Have more than two years of service, but less than three. 2. If that players falls into the top 22 percentile of all two year players called up that season. This makes things interesting for top prospects waiting to be called up because MLB clubs do not know when the Super Two date begins. The date emerges when all the two year players have been called up and the first 22% of those players are eligible for the Super Two rule, thus gaining an extra year of salary arbitration. This may not seem like a big deal to the average reader, but this complicated rule can cost teams millions. This graph from amazingavenue.com sheds some more light on the effect the Super Two rule has.
John Harper from NYdailyNews.com gives a perfect example of how this rule has many teams waiting to pull top prospects up. Ike Davis was called up in April of 2010 and fell into the Super Two rule. Because of this he re-negotiated his contract this year and is making 3.13 million. Giancarlo Stanton was called up on June the 8th of the same year and is making 537k because he did not fall into the Super Two Rule. This may not be a big deal for teams with big pockets, like the Yanks, Dodgers, and Red Sox, but for small market teams that three million dollar difference can be the difference of getting an important piece of a puzzle for a postseason run.
Another example is found in the fan-base that I attribute myself to. I am an avid supporter of the Oakland Athletics, and the A`s are a prime example of a team that eats and sleeps on this rule. The Athletics are known for keeping their farm system stacked with elite prospects and are also known for seeing those prospects leave the second that a bigger contract is thrown their way. Therefore, if the A`s were to call a top prospect before June, then they risk seeing that player leave a whole year early, due to the prospect being eligible for contract arbitration. So many of the Athletics most talented young players stay in Sacramento, not because they aren’t ready, but because they would be eligible to leave a year early.
The Super Two rule usually cuts off early to mid June. But for teams, such as the Mets, that really need help in a certain area of their roster a gamble must be made. Zack Wheeler is likely to be a All-Star pitcher for the New York Mets, but in calling him up now the Mets are taking a chance of possibly losing him early. “If we’re this close, we’d be stupid not to make sure we’re past the date,’’ a Met`s official confirmed. I think the Mets are pretty safe on calling Harvey up, but the BlackJack dealer could flip over Ace Queen and the Mets could watch their top pitching prospect pitch for another New York team in two years.