This Year’s Projected Super Two Cutoff Should Have No Impact on the Pirates

Every year at the start of the season, an early projection for the Super Two cutoff date gets released. This year the number has been released by CAA (via MLBTR), who have the cutoff at two years and 140 days (written as 2.140).

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. Any player who is Super Two eligible gets their third league minimum year replaced with an extra year of arbitration. This gives a Super Two player two years of league minimum pay, and four years of arbitration, rather than the usual three and three. The extra year of arbitration can be costly, especially to impact players, which is why teams try to avoid Super Two status.

The 2.140 number is higher than recent years, matching the 2012 total, but much higher than 2013 and 2014. It’s important to note that this number isn’t finalized yet. Last year at this time the projection was 2.128 and the actual number ended up at 2.133.

Looking ahead to the 2015-16 off-season (solely for the purposes of this discussion, and not because the Pirates started the season 0-3, of course), there aren’t any players who project as Super Two eligible. The key player to focus on is Gerrit Cole, who will have 2.111 years of service time, putting him 29 days short of the projected date.

The cutoff changes from year to year. Here were the numbers from the last several years, according to MLBTR:

  • 2014: 2.133
  • 2013: 2.122
  • 2012: 2.140
  • 2011: 2.146
  • 2010: 2.122
  • 2009: 2.139

As you can see, even if the number is close to 140 days, that doesn’t guarantee anything for the following year. That’s even true with the new changes in the CBA after the 2011 season, which increased the number of Super Two eligible players. So we can’t exactly take the 2.140 number and project out beyond the 2015-16 off-season with accuracy. But using that as a guide, you can get a feel for how close a player could be.

The key guy to watch beyond this off-season is Gregory Polanco, who would finish with 2.103 days following the 2016 season if he stays in the majors all year in 2015 and 2016. Polanco would be 19 days short under the lowest timeline in recent years, and 37 days short under the projected 2015 date.

Teams usually play things safe, as you can see by the numbers above with Cole and Polanco (although Polanco received some extra cushion when he was sent down last August). The Pirates don’t have any key Super Two situations this year like they’ve had with Cole, Polanco, and Starling Marte in previous years.

Nick Kingham and Elias Diaz are the top prospects who project to arrive by mid-season. Kingham isn’t really a big Super Two case, since pitchers in general are so unreliable due to health reasons, and since he doesn’t project to be a top of the rotation guy who would cost several millions of dollars through an extra year of arbitration. That said, the Pirates should have enough depth that he wouldn’t be needed until mid-season. Likewise, I wouldn’t expect Diaz to arrive until mid-season at the earliest, especially if Francisco Cervelli is healthy and productive.

As for next year with Tyler Glasnow and Josh Bell, well, I’d rather delay that nightmare Super Two scenario for as long as possible.