Pirates Business: Examining the Super Two “Deadline”

For weeks, as starting catcher Austin Hedges has struggled and the team has flailed—especially on the offensive side—fans have bemoaned the Pittsburgh Pirates’ insistence on keeping Henry Davis in Double-A Altoona, while he has produced at a prestigious rate with the bat. The same conversation has happened with Endy Rodríguez, at least to an extent, even though he hasn’t performed the same as last season while battling through an injury.

Much of the conversation has centered around Super Two—the class of players that qualify for one extra year of arbitration as they progress up the service time ladder. While teams will never admit it, the thought of sacrificing some time on the front end of a career in exchange for paying a player less down the road certainly is part of the decision making when it comes time to promote a top prospect.

Some teams have eschewed this line of thinking, as the new Prospect Promotion Incentive has offered teams extra draft picks in exchange for starting players in the majors earlier. The Pirates—while the sample is small—forwent the opportunity with players like Oneil Cruz and Roansy Contreras and possibly have continued the same this season.

However, none of this is to speak to the merits of that decision making; rather, it is to examine exactly when such players would be considered “safe” in terms of avoiding Super Two down the road. Safe, of course, being the operative word, as such a thing doesn’t exist.

While claiming this may be a bit of a strawman, it seems many fans believe the Super Two deadline to be the first Tuesday in June, after which prospects can be called up without fear. If you’re a savvy fan, you realize that just isn’t the case. Every offseason, the Super Two cutoff is determined by looking at the top-22% of all players who fall between two and three years of service. Basically, if 100 players finish in that bucket after a season, the twenty-two players with the most service will qualify for an extra year of arbitration.

Here’s the (maybe not so) obvious piece of that—the team won’t know if players like Davis or Rodríguez will qualify for such a thing until roughly November 2025, at the absolute earliest. I say the earliest because that’s assuming they would never go back down after coming up. I always use Tyler Glasnow as the example, as the Pirates held him down despite a stellar minor league track record. Everyone is aware of what happened next, as Glasnow’s struggles led to future minor league time, and he ended up qualifying as a Super Two player anyway.

Anyway, enough of the jibber jabber; just when are we looking at as far as when we possibly will see Davis squatting behind home plate in Pittsburgh?

Since this is an estimation and nothing is set in stone, we must consider recent history to see when the cutoffs were the last few offseasons:

2022-23: 2.128

2021-22: 2.116

2020-21: 2.125

2019-20: 2.115

2018-19: 2.134

As you can see, there is quite a delta between the lowest and highest figures, with 19 days separating those two points.

If trying to game the system, it would be foolish for teams to assume the higher number as being safe. Essentially, teams must consider the possibility that the deadline could fall on the low side yet again and plan accordingly.

So, where do these cutoffs fall in terms of the 2023 season? For players with no prior service time in their careers—any service time already accrued is going to add days to the calendar as far as timelines go—the following are the first days a player could be recalled and fall under the corresponding cutoff dates:

2022-23: May 28th

2021-22: June 9th

2020-21: May 31st

2019-20: June 10th

2018-19: May 22nd

As you can see, three out of the five benchmarks have already passed, but as I explained, teams aren’t going to use the earliest date as the point of comparison—they are going to assume the lowest historical comparison, likely using June 10th at the earliest day to be considered safe.

So, that’s the earliest fans can expect the likes of Davis and Rodríguez to make the majors, at least if Super Two is truly behind the decision making. Of course, teams are likely going to factor in a cushion as well, so it would be smart to not go circling your calendars just yet.

+ posts

A longtime Pirates Prospects reader, Ethan has been covering payroll, transactions, and rules in-depth since 2018 and dabbling in these topics for as long as he can remember. He started writing about the Pirates at The Point of Pittsburgh before moving over to Pirates Prospects at the start of the 2019 season.

Always a lover of numbers and finding an answer, Ethan much prefers diving into these topics over what’s actually happening on the field. These under and often incorrectly covered topics are truly his passion, and he does his best to educate fans on subjects they may not always understand, but are important nonetheless.

When he’s not updating his beloved spreadsheets, Ethan works full-time as an accountant, while being a dad to two young daughters and watching too many movies and TV shows at night.

Support Pirates Prospects

Related articles

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Scam likely

Um , if super passes and no one is ready to be called up, than our minor league system sucks and owner Bob Nutting should clean house. 4yrs of rebuilding should have legit prospects coming up after super two, if this is not the case ,than move on from this current management team.

Last edited 3 months ago by Scam likely

I’m sick of this crap. If you wait for Davis to be ready as a catcher, it may take two more years. Bring him up as a hitter, let him play DH, 1st, RF, and catch a little. But let him hit up here.


With rule 5 you have think about “who isn’t going to be in the minors next June?” Obvious answer is Priester. He’s in opening day rotation next year so why not promote him now. Service time doesn’t matter.


QP is 22yo missed a key year for a prep and has under 140 inn in the uppers

IMO, they want to see how he fares second time around the INT League

However, if they are serious about winning and need an arm badly,
Priest can hold his own


Well…….Endy just isn’t ready, and defensively neither is Henry. two weeks could have Endy on a hot streak and he comes up, but i would literally Shit if we saw Henry before September callups


Endy doesn’t get much to hit down there, especially when Mathias was protecting him in clean up spot. Endy was locked in after they moved Mathias, then the injury set him back, also, convinced he was not 100% coming back. Had the worst week at the dish I’ve ever seen by him
He’s locked in again, if you don’t think he is ready,
you don’t watch him enough,

Also those who think Henry is 2 years away from catching, you def do not watch the Curve, Henry’s work has paid off, he is light years ahead of his time spent in the desert, (AFL) almost unwatchable, not any more
Both are better than Sabol now, but that’s irrelevent


I don’t watch him at all honestly- I want to see some multi-hit games and a hot streak to earn the callup. That’s not asking too much, that’s what it takes to get most people a callup that’s not based on injury needs


Im unsure if youre committing to constipation if we dont call him up before september or providing proof that you did shit yourself when they call him up sooner


Nobody who isn’t paid by Nutting understands the business side of Pirates baseball better than Ethan. Every article is informative and a must read for Pirates fans.

That being said, I doubt we see either Endu or Tank in Pittsburgh for at least a couple weeks, unless there’s an injury to Hedges or Delay.


I love these business write-ups and Ethan does such a great job explaining.

On the super two cutoff, I would think with all the analytics at a team’s disposal they could have a better real-time estimation of what the cutoff date would likely be based on service time of all other qualified “rookies” around the league. (Anthony Volpe has around .062; Drew Maggi .004. Both factor in to the equation).

A lot to risk if your wrong on that estimate (especially since the PPI probably won’t cash in for the pirates on a player who has missed two months of the mlb season), but someone on the team should be able to say “June 3 is the day” instead of following past results and waiting until June 10.

The PPI hasn’t changed the service-manipulation model very much for most teams or players — still the same old same old.


considering you could just throw someone back in the minors for 2 weeks later in the season for any reason whatsoever, the date is meaningless.


Spot on!

I posted the same while back and I got crickets

Someone thought I was fabricating,
“no way if it were that easy everyone would be doing it”

2 risks,
one good one bad

-player never stops hitting or pitching

-player gets injured


I would think with all the analytics at a team’s disposal they could have a better real-time estimation of what the cutoff date would likely be based on service time of all other qualified “rookies” around the league.

Yes, but even with that data, it’s hard to make predictions, especially about the future. You don’t know which players with between 0 and 1 year of service time as of today will actually accrue enough service by the end of the 2025 season to have between 2 and 3 years – let alone which players who have yet to reach the majors who will do so. Plus the cases of players who currently have more than one year, but for whatever reasons (like Glasnow) will spend significant time not on an active roster between now and the end of 2025 and end up with between 2 and 3 years.

I’m sure that every team has a model – but I’m not sure that model is all that much more reliable than the kinds of SWAG that Ethan and others have done.

b mcferren

lickin´ my chops


Great write-up Ethan. I actually don’t specifically recall the Tyler Glasnow situation, can anyone offer more details?


Because of Glasnow’s early struggles, he spent half of 2017 back in Indy, not accumulating service time.


Good stuff Ethan. Learn something new every time you write

Pirates Prospects Daily


Latest articles

Latest comments

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x