Breaking Down Roansy Contreras’ Super Two Status

With Roansy Contreras finally being recalled to start a game on Wednesday for the first time since July 7th, it’s prudent to look at where his service time projection now sits.

Much to my absolute surprise, I had the pleasure of joining Dan Zangrilli on the Pirates Pregame Show, where we discussed the following already, but if you didn’t have the chance to check it out, I’ll cover those bases again here.

Of course, the story was, is, and has been that the Pittsburgh Pirates wanted to give Contreras a break, limit his innings, then slowly build him back up before he could rejoin the team and start another major league game.

As I touched on in my midseason recap, I didn’t think that was the case then, and I’m still not buying it now. Sending down one of your best performing pitchers in the middle of a season in which you’re desperate for pitchers who are performing well screams of service time manipulation, especially with where Contreras was sitting at the time.

Contreras was recalled in an emergency, as he was the only healthy pitcher on the 40-man roster at a time when the team needed pitching. He was eventually sent back down and not recalled until a point where he would not have been able to exceed a full year of service, whether he went back down or not, so the team already had gained that much. However, if he hadn’t gone back down, he was projecting to be Super Two eligible after 2024—as long as he was never optioned again, which is the outcome everyone would hope for. Well, everyone except the front office, apparently.

A midseason break was perfect cover, as many would buy the explanation of having to give him a breather. To a point, it’s not unreasonable, given his innings over the last few years and the current prevailing theory around development of young arms.

A midseason stint on the injured list, followed by a rehab assignment where he made the same amount of buildup starts would have achieved the same stated goal—it’s the unstated one that would not have been served, of course.

Instead, they chose to pay him almost $130,000 less, withhold more of his service time, while in the process likely pushed back his arbitration by a year — saving the team and costing Contreras millions of dollars in the process.

As an employee, is this treatment you would like to receive from your employer?

It’s not a surprise that Contreras sounded less than enthused about the decision when speaking after his start:

“[T]he biggest thing I’ve learned is that there’s always going to be moves and decisions that you may not understand or that just kind of throw you off.”

He’s right—it is hard to understand, unless you look at it from a business perspective, that is.

Outside of a smoking gun email or Derek Shelton or Ben Cherington slipping up and saying something stupid while actually answering questions about development goals for Contreras, a player will never be able to prove their careers are being messed with for the team’s financial savings. The Kris Bryant saga and the 42-page finding to his grievance showed us that. Without cold hard evidence, all other “proof” is largely circumstantial, which is exactly the current case for Contreras.

So, where does his service fall now that he’s back up?

Last season, Contreras accrued .001 day of service, or maybe .005. To be honest, I’m not 100% sure which is correct, and I could go into the rules and why either may be the case, but that would be a waste of digital ink. So, let’s go with .005, just to be safe.

He accrued .057 days before his extended leave, and his recall on Wednesday will result in another .050 days—assuming no more options, of course. In total, that’s .107 days this season.

Tack on another .005 from 2021, and Contreras will go into 2023 with .112 days of service.

Of course, we have no idea where the Super Two cutoff will fall until whatever offseason Contreras finishes with more than 2.000 years of service but less than 3.000. Of course, if all goes well, one would hope that’s after 2024, but you never can tell. The same games appeared to have been played with Tyler Glasnow, but he eventually had to be sent back down and ended up a Super Two player anyway.

Historically, the lowest cutoff has been 2.115, during the 2019-20 offseason. That was significantly lower than any other mark up until that time, which ranged from 2.123 in 2017-18 to several marks at and above 2.130 in surrounding offseasons.

However, this past offseason was 2.116, another low total historically.

These are the best we have to go off of right now, but one has to wonder how the incentives in the new CBA will affect this cutoff. Will teams starting more top players earlier skew it any lower? It’s hard to say, but the Pirates seem to be gambling that trends hold and 2.112 will be low enough to potentially cost Contreras another year of arbitration while likely saving them millions in the process.

Pirates Payroll Updates

—Austin Brice was selected again, this time to replace Yerry De Los Santos, who will now be done for a season that has less than 60 days remaining. With a $950,000 prorated salary for Brice, payroll went up $234,203, at least for a little while…De Los Santos finishes the year with .136 days of service and no option used.

—Recent waiver claim Kevin Padlo was recalled to take the spot of Ke’Bryan Hayes, who went on the 10-day IL with back issues. Payroll went up $164,181, and with being optioned four times already, Padlo should be at five if and when he goes back down.

—It was announced that Rodolfo Castro would be suspended one game for the cell phone incident heard round the world. If the suspension stands upon appeal, Castro will lose out on and payroll will go down $3,874.

—The aforementioned recall of Roansy Contreras raised payroll by $162,335, but that will be offset once Austin Brice’s designation shakes out.

—Finally, payroll went down $160,962 when Jose Godoy was optioned and replaced by Tyler Heineman, who came off the IL.

—Payroll stands at $60,991,490 for the Labor Relations Department, while it’s $74,025,740 for CBT purposes.

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1979andCounting

Always love the complex math formulas that Ethan employs……but back to a re-occurring question…….is your payroll figure in last sentence based on 26-man MLB, 28-man MLB (which we had for 2 months), or 40-man?

john_fluharty

40 I think

TNBucs

“but one has to wonder how the incentives in the new CBA will affect this cutoff. Will teams starting more top players earlier skew it any lower? 

This is interesting to consider. My initial reaction was players getting called up sooner would shift the cutoff to be higher–the top 22% in service time will be reached at an earlier date. However, the CBA incentives to roster a guy on Opening Day would likely shift things to be lower.

For example, after the 2024 season a player like Bobby Witt who was rostered to open the season will have 3 full years of service so will not count as part of the 22% of players who have the most service time between 2 and 3 years (assuming “between” excludes 3.000) whereas in the past he likely would have been part of the 22% after the 2024 season. If top prospects are pulled out of the pool, then it may take later into the season to accrue the 22% who become Super Two and a guy like Contreras could become eligible.

Confusing stuff, but I think it could go either way depending on how many teams rostered players on Opening Day that in the past may have been held down for a few weeks to gain the extra service year (off the top of my head, Witt and Julio Rodrguez are the only two I can think of so the effect would be minimal). If the Pirates were counting on Contreras not being eligible for Super Two (which I suspect was a big factor in him being sent down), they seem to be cutting it too close given the uncertainty with the impact of Super Two.

john_fluharty

We need to do away with super-two together. I like the idea of a graduated payment system for years two and three – maybe double the minimum in year two, triple the minimum in year three, then years four through six you’re in arbitration. If that’s too high then maybe one and a half and two and a half instead of two and three.

Anthony

On the position player side, what prospects have the Pirate’s recently manipulated their respective service times?

I honestly can’t remember, but I’m wondering if this is just a pattern with pitchers.

john_fluharty

I can’t name any guys off the top of my head personally, but I got it in my head that they do this with guys they think are going to be expensive and don’t bother with guys that are marginal.

Anthony

Do we see the irony here… If the FO was this good at predicting future productivity from players, the Pirates would be a much much better team.

Anthony

Off the original topic, but I think we are deluding ourselves if we think Cruz is actually ready. His physical tools have over-sensationalized him as a prospect to this point.

jon6er

They got a 2’fer with the Contreras move, screwed him and give a middle finger to the fans.

MB21

There is one word to describe what happened with Contreras. It is the same word that should be used to the treatment of the organization’s fans: DESPICABLE.

jaygray007

IMO some of the strongest evidence that it wasnt actually about stretching him out is that they were starting tyler f***ing beede for 3 inning starts, proving that getting Contreras to 3 then 4 then 5 innings was an absolute joke.

But yeah, theyll just lean on “development reasons” if it ever came to it.

skliesen

Shocking they recalled him right after it was reasonable to believe he wouldn’t be a Super 2 player.

Is it any wonder they are called a disgraceful organization by an opposing teams Color Commentator, have one of the worst attendance figures in the league despite having one of the best parks, and have lost support from even management apologists like me?

Can’t wait for them to retain the entire coaching staff, bring back JVM next season, and fail to sign any decent FA to a multi-year deal this winter.

Management’s actions are so disrespectful to players and fans.

leefieux

Great stuff, Ethan. You confirmed what w all suspected.

emjayinTN

Agree, his take is always worth the read. Yesterday, Tim spoke of the Pirates needing to be more aggressive in the FA Market. I agree with that position, with caution.

If we are that concerned with the Super 2 status of an excellent pitcher who could have helped the team in 2022, how do we approach people in FA? And if avoidance of Super 2 was the reason for Contreras being in AAA, then we unofficially punted on the season long ago. More reason why keeping Newman, Chavis, VanMeter, Allen, and Gamel in the lineup regularly makes no sense whatsoever.

Teams can select a player that is DFA’d and they qualify for the playoffs if selected before Aug 31. Newman and Chavis could be picked up by contenders if they are DFA’d. Newman will be in his 2nd year of ARB after ’22, and 2023 will be his age 30 season. A few contenders would like to have a MI like him down the stretch. CWS? Give Newman a chance.

ricramer

The management philosophy of the Pirates organization seems to be one that treats it’s most valuable assets (employees/players) poorly at best. The management philosophy of Richard Branson would be a better fit, I think, for a big league club.

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