First Pitch: Why You Don’t Put a Prospect on the 60-Day DL For a 40-Man Spot

The Pirates have some tough roster decisions coming up next week, and will need to create some room on their 40-man roster in order to bring up all of their best options. Some of the guys who are good candidates to get called up include Vance Worley, Radhames Liz, Pedro Florimon and Travis Snider. None of those guys are currently on the 40-man roster.

The only problem with creating 40-man spots is that there aren’t many candidates to come off the roster at the moment. There is currently one spot open on the roster, but the Pirates would need at least three more spots to add the three guys above. Looking at the 40-man roster, it doesn’t appear that they have three guys who could be designated for assignment, or even more than one guy for that matter.

As a result, the Pirates are going to have to get creative. And one creative way that has been suggested to gain extra roster spots is to bring up injured minor leaguers and place them on the 60-day disabled list. It’s not a bad idea, but it should have limitations.

This is an approach that you can’t take with every prospect, and one that you don’t want to take with top prospects. The main reason is service time. If you place Nick Kingham and Jameson Taillon on the 60-day disabled list, you have to call them up, and start their service time.

The obvious problem here is that you’re wasting a month of service time. Sure, you can try and get that back next year. But it means that you’re calling those guys up much later than normal. Instead of calling Taillon up in mid-June, you’re now waiting until the middle or end of July. Or, if they ignore Super Two, you’re calling him up in mid-to-late May instead of mid-April.

But there’s another rule that people don’t consider, and most don’t know about. This involves the disabled list out of Spring Training and when players can be placed on that list.

There’s a certain date each year where players need to be sent down in order to avoid getting injured in big league camp and spending time on the MLB disabled list. After this date, if a player gets injured in big league camp, he must go on the MLB disabled list. And for prospects, this means that you’d be starting their service time. This is why you see certain prospects with no service time going down around the same time in the middle of camp. They have no shot of making the team, and the team doesn’t want to risk them getting hurt and starting their service clocks.

But there’s a stipulation here that any player who has at least one day of MLB service time has to go on the MLB disabled list, no matter when the injury happens. This is why Brandon Cumpton went on the 60-day DL, despite his injury happening early in camp. It’s also why Taillon was able to be optioned to the minors, despite rehabbing from the start of camp after Tommy John surgery in 2014 — he had no service time and could be sent down.

So if you bring up Taillon this year, and he gets injured in camp next year at any time, you’d need to keep him on the MLB disabled list, which wastes more service time. In Kingham’s case, he won’t be back at all next year, which means you’d be burning a full year of service time by bringing him up now and placing him on the 60-day DL. That’s a high cost to pay for one roster spot.

This type of approach makes sense for someone like Casey Sadler or John Holdzkom, who are mostly used as depth during the regular season, or used in smaller roles. But for top prospects like Taillon and Kingham, it’s a waste of service time, all for a small reward of getting someone like Pedro Florimon on the roster in September.

**We have a special announcement on Friday morning for subscribers. I’m teasing it a day early just to make sure everyone knows to look out for it.

**Pirates Give Another Example of How Baseball Can Be Unpredictable. Tonight’s game report, live from Miami, looking at how the Pirates should have won Tuesday’s game, should have lost Wednesday’s game, and how the opposite happened for both games.

**About Those Pirates Outfield Assists From Last Night. Looking deeper at the Starling Marte play from Tuesday night, and also some praise for Gregory Polanco, because you can’t have enough of that lately.

**Cole Tucker Has Shoulder Surgery, Out 10-12 Months. A tough blow for Tucker. The good news is that he’s young enough to not really be impacted by this. He’ll still be on track for Bradenton at age 20, which is about the same age as Austin Meadows and Harold Ramirez this year.

**Prospect Watch: Tarpley Bounces Back Strong After Tough Outing. Another great outing from the lefty. It seems like the Pirates have really boosted their left-handed pitching depth in the minor league system this year.

  • Corey Hart is still on the 60 day and not currently taking up a 40 man spot, correct?

  • Can’t wait for this special announcement!

  • Paul Newmeyer
    August 27, 2015 10:20 am

    Another reason to leave Glasnow where he is this September. I would love to see him get his feet wet in a playoff push, but the risk is greater than the reward.

  • Great article Tim. As long as I have followed baseball, I never understood this rule. I haven’t been this happy since I learned how options are used.

  • Is Guerra on the 40 man due to him being returned from Cleveland and then put on the DL? If so, couldn’t he be shifted to the 60 day?

    If the Pirates bring up 4 players wouldn’t Diaz/Sanchez be more likely than Florimon? Also seems a little redundant bringing up both Liz and Worley and not Scahill. Worley and the F.O. don’t appear to be on any mutual admiration lists anyway.

    • Worley did not blow anybody’s doors off in ST, and lost the coin flip regarding the 5th SP when the Pirates opted for Locke to be the 2nd lefty in the Rotation. Based on his performances out of the BP, I cannot remember him making anyone think that choosing Locke was a terrible mistake.

      I lost track and did not see if those comments attributed to him were verified. If they were true, I would rather call up anybody else and leave the attitude in the minor leagues where it belongs.

      • Worley is dead to me. What a punk.

        The Pirates grabbed him at a time when he was an afterthought; demoted and then dropped completely from the Twins 40-man after middling success in AAA. The Pirates quite literally resurrected his career, leading to roughly $3m in salary he wouldn’t have ever seen as a Twin, and now he acts like they owe him something? Please. Good riddance, Vance. Good luck in Independent ball in a few years.

        • Who cares how he acts or what he thinks? If management thinks that he can help up here in September, then he should and will be here.

        • He’s a competitor. It would be difficult to think you weren’t being jerked around a bit by the FO if you were in his shoes. I was a bit surprised at his comments as I’ve never heard anything about him being less than a solid teammate.

          • I must have missed something. What comments are we talking about?

            • Dejan also said this on Monday: “Worley, on the other hand, will be the innings-eater, assuming he hasn’t already ticked off everyone in the organization to the point of not being wanted back.”

              • What exactly has he done to tick off the organization? That’s my question. What’s the original thing that is being discussed here?

                • Wilbur Miller
                  August 27, 2015 12:29 pm

                  Don’t know what has passed between Worley and the Pirates, but a poster at BD said he talked to Worley at a AAA game and Worley started spouting off about how he shouldn’t be there and the FO were retards, etc. This apparently came unbidden with a guy Worley didn’t know.

          • Are we basing this off of the assumed comments a poster said Worley made while signing an autograph or did he actually say this on record?

            • Reading even a little bit between the lines of Huntington and Hurdle’s comments, on the record, after he was dropped makes it clear that Worley had been chirping about his role on the team. Also doesn’t look very good when he takes every day he’s allowed to report back to Indy.

          • If I was a narcissist, sure.

            • I think you have to have a bit of narcissist in you to make to MLB.

              • Ha, I’ll give ya that one.

                Put it this way, contrast how Worley has handled the situation with how Clayton Richard did. The Pirates dropped Worley so that he could pursue a job with a Big League club that could use him. Just like they did with Richards. Nobody wanted Worley, however, which is no fault of the Pirates and yet he’s still apparently butthurt.

    • He could be moved to the 60-day if they have no intention of activating him for September.

      Scahill is on the 15-day DL, so they can (and will) easily bring him back. Worley/Liz are off the 40-man, so they’d have to clear spots for each player.

  • As usual, you’re spot on, Tim. And since you mentioned him, is JT done for the season for sure? Do you think he’s bound for AFL after season?