I’ve been getting Super Two and arbitration clock questions all day, probably because of the Wandy Rodriguez injury and the chance that Gerrit Cole could come up soon. Rather than answering these over and over, I’m going to go over the deadlines here. Then I can just send people here when I keep getting the questions over and over.
Question 1: When will Gerrit Cole be eligible for an extra year of control?
Answer: He already is. One year of service time is 172 days. A player isn’t eligible for free agency until he passes 6.000 years of service time. If Cole came up today, he’d have 0.117 years of service time this season, giving him six full years of control remaining. So no matter when he comes up, the Pirates control his rights through the 2019 season.
Question 2: When will Gerrit Cole avoid Super Two status?
Answer: There is no specific date here. Super Two status is awarded to players with more than two, but less than three years of service time. Only the players with the top 22% of service time in that group are Super Two eligible (that’s up from 17% under the old CBA). If the Pirates called Cole up today, and kept him up, he’d have 2.117 years of service time after the 2015 season.
The thing is, it’s really hard to predict what the actual cutoff will be two years from now. Right now the projected cutoff for the upcoming off-season is 2.119. So Cole’s 2.117 if he came up today would be dangerously close. Also, the 2.119 is the lowest in the last five years, but that’s probably due to the increase from 17% to 22%. In this article about the Mets and Zack Wheeler, they’re estimating the date could be anywhere from late-May to June 10th, while another team estimates June 15th.
If Cole came up on June 15th, he’d finish with 0.107 years of service time. If he stays up for good, he’d be safe.
Question 3: CALL HIM UP!
Answer: Cole just finished seven shutout innings for the second game in a row. He currently has 19.2 scoreless innings in a row, with five hits allowed in that span. As I wrote earlier, the Pirates don’t need a fifth starter until June 15th (coincidental that this date comes up multiple times in this article). I still have questions about whether Cole is ready, but he’s answered a lot of them in his last three starts. Is he dominating like a number one starter? No. Is he looking like a guy who could have success in the majors right now? Yes.
Cole could make one more start, then come up if the Pirates need him on the 15th. That gives him one more start to show he’s ready, plus it almost certainly avoids Super Two status down the line, which could be huge for the Pirates if Cole ends up being the pitcher we think he will be.
Question 4: Why not just call him up for one start?
Answer: When Cole comes up, he needs to be up for good. The problem with calling him up for one start is that he’s not on the 40-man roster. You’d have to add him to the 40-man, bring him up, then option him down after that one start. That burns one option year.
Ideally you won’t need to worry about options with Cole. But at some point we thought the same thing about Pedro Alvarez, and that quickly turned to “is Alvarez eligible for a fourth option?” (and Cole wouldn’t be). I don’t think the value of one start is worth one option year. If you’re going to bring him up, bring him up for good. And there’s no reason why that can’t happen on June 15th.