Major League Baseball has announced that this year’s cutoff for “Super Two” arbitration eligibility is two years and 134 days (commonly written as 2.134) of major league service time. This means that players who have spent that much times on a major league roster will be eligible for arbitration this offseason.
This affects the Detroit Tigers directly. Matthew Boyd barely managed to squeeze into this year’s arbitration class with two years and 136 days (2.136) years of service time, while Drew VerHagen has fallen short of the cutoff with just two years and 126 days years of MLB service. Boyd is projected to receive a $3 million salary for the 2019 season according to projections by Matt Swartz at MLB Trade Rumors. VerHagen would have received a salary estimated at $900,000 if he had been eligible. Instead, he will receive a 2019 salary just above the major league minimum of $550,000.
What does Super Two mean?
The “Super Two” cutoff is based on the amount of service time accrued by the highest 22 percent of players who have between two and three years of service time in the major leagues. This includes time on the major league roster or on a disabled list (even the 60-day DL). To be eligible, a player must also have spent at least 86 days on the roster during the previous season. The cutoff has been between 2.122 and 2.146 years of service time in the past.
Players who qualify for Super Two status will be eligible for arbitration four times instead of three until they reach free agency after six years of MLB service time (provided they stick in the major leagues). As an example, Rick Porcello qualified as a Super Two, putting him in the same arbitration class with Max Scherzer. However, since Scherzer had over three years of service time in his first arbitration season, he had six years of service time one season ahead of Porcello, and became a free agent while Porcello had a fourth season of arbitration eligibility.
VerHagen would have been eligible for arbitration if he had spent the full 2018 season in the major leagues. However, he struggled early in the season and, being out of options, was designated for assignment on April 23. He cleared waivers, and was outrighted to the minor leagues on April 27. He was recalled to the majors on June 4, this time for good. VerHagen had a very strong second half, posting a 2.61 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .200 batting average after the All-Star break.
How does arbitration work?
Teams must tender a contract offer to their arbitration-eligible players by no later than November 30 in order to retain their rights for the following season. The offer can be no less than 80 percent of the player’s salary the previous season — though it is typically much higher. If the two sides have not agreed on a contract for the 2019 season, they will exchange figures in January. If there is still no agreement, a three-member arbitration panel will have a hearing in February and choose either one number or the other.
The exact deadlines are listed in this offseason calendar. The Tigers have not had an arbitration case go to a hearing for the past 18 seasons, and typically pay slightly more than MLB Trade Rumors’ estimated salaries.
The Tigers solved two potential arbitration issues by designating Louis Coleman and Pete Kozma for assignment last week. The players were both arbitration eligible. They cleared waivers and were outrighted to the minor leagues, but opted for free agency. Jim Adduci was also outrighted and elected free agency, while Harold Castro was outrighted and Artie Lewicki claimed off waivers by the Arizona Diamondbacks.