MLB Trade Rumors discovered today that the Super Two cutoff after the season will likely be at 2 years, 124 days, which is the lowest the cutoff has been in years. Following the 2009 season, the Super Two cutoff was 2 years, 139 days.
Players who have more than two years of service time, but less than three years are eligible for an extra year of arbitration, as long as they are in the top 17% of service time of the players between two and three years. Those players in the 17% group are called “Super Two players”, and they are eligible for arbitration four times, rather than the normal three times.
This probably explains why Pedro Alvarez was held back for so long. Alvarez wasn’t called up until June 16th, which will give him 110 days of service time at the end of the season. By avoiding an extra year of arbitration, the Pirates could be saving themselves about $10 M in the long run. The low Super Two date does put Andrew McCutchen at risk after the 2011 season, as McCutchen will have 2 years, 123 days of service time.
As for next year, the low cut-off date means that Ross Ohlendorf is guaranteed to be arbitration eligible following the 2010 season. Ohlendorf will finish the 2010 season with 2 years, 139 days of service time. Brian Burres could also be at risk if he gets another 57 days of service time in the majors this year, although it’s unlikely the Pirates would tender Burres a contract in that case.
McCutchen is the only player who is affected by this for the 2012 season, although there’s still no guarantee that he will be eligible for Super Two status. Garrett Jones, however, is a guarantee to be eligible for Super Two status, with a projected 2 years, 158 days of service time. Neil Walker is a guarantee to be eligible in 2013, with a projected 2 years, 166 days of service time.