Quick Primer On Major League Contracts
Since I know this stuff can get confusing, and will probably be misreported by various places tomorrow, here’s a quick rundown of what happens if you give a draftee a major league contract, as the M’s did with Dustin Ackley.
1. He goes on the 40 man roster immediately. Since the M’s had an opening, this isn’t a big deal, and no one gets bumped to make room for him. It may prevent someone not on the 40 man who was on the bubble from getting a September call-up, though, as there’s now one less spot for them to use.
2. He does NOT accrue service time immediately. The only way to accrue service time (the vehicle to arbitration and free agency) is to physically be on the 25 man roster (or major league disabled list). Ackley will not accrue any service time while he is in the minor leagues.
3. He will have to be optioned if the M’s send him to a minor league team. If the M’s wanted to get him to Everett for a token appearance before the season ended, they would have to use an option to assign him to Everett’s roster. You get three option years (and in some cases, four), so the M’s will have limited years in which Ackley will be able to be sent to the minors. This may influence them to not send him out for the last few weeks of the minor league season.
4. The five year deal does not affect the team’s ability to control him for six full seasons. He will have pre-assigned salaries from 2010-2014 (I have confirmed this to be true). In 2015 (and any seasons beyond that in which he’s still with the organization), he’ll have his salaries determined by arbitration, just as any normal arbitration eligible player would. If he played a full season in the majors next year and stayed in the majors after that, he’d be free agent eligible after 2015. That’s extremely unlikely, so in all likelyhood, he’ll still be under club control in 2016 as well. In a case where he’s up with the team at the start of the 2011 season, the M’s would have essentially bought out his first year of arbitration with this deal.
5. A major league deal is a positive for Ackley because it gives the M’s a real incentive to get him to the big leagues in rapid order. Getting a major league deal right out of school pushes the cost/benefit needle for the team towards being aggressive in promoting him, whereas the needle goes conservative with a player who doesn’t already have predetermined salaries for future years.