Quick Primer On Major League Contracts

Dave · August 17, 2009 at 10:20 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

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.

Comments

37 Responses to “Quick Primer On Major League Contracts”

  1. Mike Honcho on August 17th, 2009 10:31 pm

    Would it be correct to say we will be paying only $4 million in salary for 5 years of service (assuming he meets the escalator clauses and calling the bonus a one-time fee)?

  2. Dave on August 17th, 2009 10:32 pm

    The M’s aren’t going to get five years of service out of him before the deal expires. Probably four, maybe less if there’s a road block and he doesn’t get to the show until after 2011.

  3. Teej on August 17th, 2009 10:32 pm

    Awesome. Thanks.

  4. Mike Honcho on August 17th, 2009 10:35 pm

    Right – I should have clarified that – five years is the best-case scenario.

  5. Mike Honcho on August 17th, 2009 10:35 pm

    More clarification – five years of ML service.

  6. Chris C. on August 17th, 2009 10:38 pm

    So how would you handle it, Dave? Send the guy to Pulaski or Everett? Or tell him to work on the skills and we’ll see you in Peoria in February? Kinda interesting.

  7. Dave on August 17th, 2009 10:39 pm

    Have him hang out in Peoria for a few weeks, assign him to play in the Arizona Fall League (which would not require an option, since it’s a winter league), and then tell him to be back in Arizona for spring training. And I think that’s the plan.

  8. Chris C. on August 17th, 2009 10:45 pm

    Makes sense, thanks.

    Can’t explain how excited I am to see the kid in our system. The potential chance to see an OF of Ackley/Guti/Ichiro with Mr. Saunders in the system and add in how impressive James Jones has been in Everett and the skill set of Halman AND add in the depth that guys like Gillies and Carrera?

    The outfield is no longer a very large concern for me.

  9. Chris C. on August 17th, 2009 10:49 pm

    *depth that guys like Gillies and Carrera provide. Sorry.

  10. 300ZXNA on August 18th, 2009 12:24 am

    So do the Mariners seem to have any inkling of seeing how he would do at 2B or is that just unfounded speculation? However, if he does have the range to play CF, having him in LF would be really nice given its size . . .

  11. wrob4343 on August 18th, 2009 1:33 am

    So do the Mariners seem to have any inkling of seeing how he would do at 2B or is that just unfounded speculation? However, if he does have the range to play CF, having him in LF would be really nice given its size . . .

    Seems to me like Saunders (especially once he gets his bat going) will be the man in left field for a while….

  12. 300ZXNA on August 18th, 2009 1:42 am

    Saunders won’t block Ackley once he’s ready, especially if Dustin proves to be an OF. Which isn’t the end of the world, as hopefully Saunders will have developed and perhaps we could trade him for something interesting. But this brings us back around to why I’m so curious as to whether or not he will be given a serious look at 2B.

  13. gag harbor on August 18th, 2009 5:20 am

    How does the one year difference affect the 4-year Strasburg deal vs. the 5-year deal that Ackley signed?

  14. The Ancient Mariner on August 18th, 2009 6:28 am

    I’m not quite clear on something. Dave, you’ve said that “he will have pre-assigned salaries from 2010-2014″ — but isn’t that only true if he signed a 2010 contract? And in that case, doesn’t that preclude him from playing the rest of this season? (Though I would presume he could still play in the AFL.)

    In Strasburg’s case, I noted that his deal apparently explicitly includes pro-rated salary for the rest of 2009, so his four-year deal really only covers through 2012 — which suggests that the Nats probably do in fact plan to put him on the major-league roster this season (I’d guess in the bullpen, just to let him get his feet wet).

  15. Paul B on August 18th, 2009 6:50 am

    assign him to play in the Arizona Fall League (which would not require an option, since it’s a winter league),

    I was going to ask about that, but you answered my question already.

    Regarding 2B, since the M’s have an incentive to get him to be major league ready as quickly as possible, I’m thinking they would put him at a position that would enable that. If that is in the OF, then he’ll be an OFer.

  16. Paul B on August 18th, 2009 6:52 am

    Saunders won’t block Ackley once he’s ready

    No, and who knows if Ichiro! and Franklin will still be in the OF in a couple of years? Got a crystal ball?

  17. peterineverett on August 18th, 2009 7:17 am

    Thanks for this. I was just asking this question this morning.

    Quick question. So does an assignment to the Arizona league qualify as an option? If they wanted to save one of his options prior to next season, do they just tell him to sit on the bench and wait it out?

  18. JakeSuds on August 18th, 2009 7:49 am

    Seems to me that the guy has a bat that plays anywhere on the field, and the physicality to play most any position. Why not give him a try at 2B? He throws righty, so no bad mojo there… and systemically we’re weak at second.

    Great job getting it done, Z.

    I hate it how one man is changing the monetary landscape of baseball, though. There’s no monopoly on talent, but Boras sure is close.

  19. gwangung on August 18th, 2009 8:02 am

    I hate it how one man is changing the monetary landscape of baseball, though. There’s no monopoly on talent, but Boras sure is close.

    Meh. This just plain ignores that if the money didn’t go to the player, it’d stay in the owners’ pockets.

    Boras is chump change. Literally.

  20. joser on August 18th, 2009 8:15 am

    This just plain ignores that if the money didn’t go to the player, it’d stay in the owners’ pockets.

    Yes, because as their cost structure grows the owners just allow it to eat into their profits, rather than passing it on to the fans (if not through ticket and concession prices directly, then through more and more intrusive advertising, etc).

    But this isn’t a topic to discuss baseball economics or the apportioning of evil amongst multi-millionaire players and agents and the billionaire owners, I don’t think, so we’ll stop there.

  21. Ralph_Malph on August 18th, 2009 9:18 am

    Since it would use up an option to give him a few at-bats in Everett, is there any chance they let him travel with the big club come 9/1? If I understand right, roster-expansion time doesn’t count as major league service time? Why not let him travel with the team and play a few innings at some point?

  22. Mayberry RFD on August 18th, 2009 9:50 am

    What I don’t understand is if he has a major league deal, and he’s on the 40 man roster as a result, how does he stay off the 25 man without being optioned or DL’d?

    If we send him to Peoria without optioning him somewhere, wouldn’t he automatically occupy a spot on the big league roster?

  23. Dave on August 18th, 2009 10:00 am

    He’s just an unassigned player – he hasn’t been sent to Peoria’s AZL team (that would require an option), he’s just been sent to the spring training complex to work out and do drills. You can have a player on the 40 man who is not actively assigned to any roster. That’s Ackley, for now.

  24. Grizz on August 18th, 2009 10:10 am

    The team may not need it, but Ackley would likely qualify for the fourth option year. The team gets the fourth option if it has used three options and the player has less than five years of total service time in full season ball (Class A or above, but not short-season ball like the Northwest League). The 2009 season would not count because Ackley would have less than a full season wherever he went. Thus, the M’s could receive up to four options on Ackley but only if used before the end of the 2014 season.

  25. kcw2 on August 18th, 2009 10:29 am

    I don’t understand point number 5. Once his salary is set, isn’t it analogous to a sunk cost?

  26. Mike Snow on August 18th, 2009 10:40 am

    The salary itself is, but the ability to substitute it for a year or two of arbitrator-determined salaries is not.

  27. kcw2 on August 18th, 2009 11:03 am

    To MS: I take that to be the gist of point 4. While that is a benefit of the contract, I don’t see that as pushing the cost/benefit needle to bring him up to the majors early. You bring him up because he is ready. If he is up early, you get the benefit of buying out the additional arbitration year, but, over his career, presumably, he earns more money because he was called up a year early (which is a good thing because he is ready for the majors early).

  28. rifaco on August 18th, 2009 11:06 am

    This is fascinating stuff! How do you know about these intricate rules? Is it all in the CBA, or somewhere else?

  29. Mike Snow on August 18th, 2009 11:07 am

    If he is up early, you get the benefit of buying out the additional arbitration year

    Haven’t you just answered your question?

  30. kcw2 on August 18th, 2009 11:21 am

    Nope. That was point number 4, but, I now understand the reasoning.

  31. Carson on August 18th, 2009 12:03 pm

    Jack actually made the point at the event that they don’t intend to rush guys up. They will bring them when they collectively feel the player is ready – based on his individual situation.

    The cost/benefit may have some bearing on that – but if (not likely) he just doesn’t adjust at all to a wood bat, they’re not going to rush him up early based on cost.

    We should all trust that this front office will take all things into account, based on each player’s circumstances, and call them up when they are ready and the team needs it. It feels really good knowing that.

  32. The Ancient Mariner on August 18th, 2009 12:39 pm

    kcw2: there’s also the fact that with a major-league deal, you have the option-year clock running; this too gives the M’s incentive to getting him to the majors sooner.

  33. Soonerman22 on August 18th, 2009 12:52 pm

    Talk about the ultimate small ball team in 2012 Ackley, Gutierrez and Saunders in the OF and Ichiro at DH

    (They will never not resign Ichiro as long as he wants to play here even if he is 50. See the sticky Griffey situation as an example)

    Ichiro would lack in power at DH, but you now have a guy who will get you 200 hits every year at that position.

    What is the over/under on the first year Ichiro doesn’t get 200 hits?

  34. mw3 on August 18th, 2009 1:58 pm

    Ichiro won’t get 200 hits the first year he doesn’t play or the first year he has a major injury. Barring that he should always exceed 200.

  35. joser on August 18th, 2009 2:03 pm

    The Dodgers have yet to hit 100 HR this year and they seem to be doing fine. Texas has hit far more home runs than the Angels but look who’s leading the AL West (the Angels are no better than average in the AL in number of HRs). There’s nothing wrong with small ball if you do it right.

  36. eponymous coward on August 18th, 2009 2:26 pm

    Talk about the ultimate small ball team in 2012 Ackley, Gutierrez and Saunders in the OF and Ichiro at DH

    Over 1/3rd of Ichiro’s value as a ballplayer has come from the defense he’s provided. Taking that away’s kind of crazy, especially given that as recently as 2008, his wOBA (.339) wasn’t THAT much higher than the guy we signed to be our 2009 DH (Griffey’s 2008 wOBA: .335), and LOWER than the guy we signed for peanuts to play 1B (Branyan’s career wOBA: .350).

    Anyways, planning out the roster for 2012 in 2009 is about as futile as it was when M’s fans were imagining Pineiro, Little Unit, Nageotte and Meche owning the AL West for years to come…

  37. joser on August 18th, 2009 3:15 pm

    Yes, there certainly are a lot of people around here who seem prepared to pick the furniture today for the house they’re going to buy when they get transferred to a new city in two years.

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