If you’ve been following the September call ups this year, you might have noticed it’s been a controversial issue. Teams like the White Sox, Blue Jays, and the Mets are holding their star prospects like Vladmir Guerrero Jr., Eloy Jimenez, and Peter Alonso down for “reasons.” Whatever hilariously goofball reason that team tells you it is keeping that player down, the true reason is the extra year of service time control. Everyone knows this by now.
Let’s just get this out of the way now. From a business standpoint, it makes sense. From a fan standpoint, it also makes sense. You have a star player staying on your favorite team for an extra year before he presumably hits the market. From another fan standpoint, it’s infuriating. You’re not calling up your star prospect because your team is cheap and wants more control over the person.
Yes, “cheap” in baseball terms means $555,000 minimum, which any of us would love as a salary. Since none of us made the decision to play baseball, or if we did we didn’t make it, that minimum salary is irrelevant. Also, despite what a swath of people seem to believe, the fans are not paying that salary. The player does not work for us. They work for the owners of the franchise.
Of course, that means that the owners have the power to do what they do when it comes to that extra year of service time. No one is disputing that. What I always question is why fans would root for that? Wouldn’t you want to see your star prospect sooner, rather than later? Players are the reason you go to the game, right?
There have always been talks of nerds ruining the game, what with their newfangled statistics and other such nerd things. I’ve always disagreed with that. I think all fans, barring thinking that players are property, should root for the game of baseball the way they see fit. I do feel that a number of fans do root for the general managing of the sport as much as the players themselves.
The movie Moneyball was more about what went into building that 2002 Oakland Athletics team more than it was about the players themselves. There is something alluring about building a team as well. It’s why a lot of fans do prefer the homegrown aspect of their favorite players. Which is why I don’t get the appeal of rooting for that extra year of service time, especially if you’re a Yankee fan.
There are a couple of reasons why I don’t give a flying bunt about that extra year of service time. First of all, if that star prospect is as good as advertised, I’m going to want the Yankees to extend him to a lengthy, lucrative contract as soon as possible. One of the best things the Yankees did is use their fabulous wealth to keep Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, and Jorge Posada in pinstripes for their entire career. It’s why a lot of fans were upset over how they handled Andy Pettitte.
Fans want a new dynasty. Ownership wants a new dynasty. What followed that dynasty was making sure their future Hall of Fame and Parliament of Excellence players did not go anywhere. During the doldrums of 2013-2016, fans were calling for the team to play the kids, because that’s how the dynasty teams were built, even though it really wasn’t. We’ve had that discussion before though, thanks to Harlan.
Call me crazy, but I don’t remember fans giving an iota of bunts about an extra year of service time for Rob Refsnyder or David Adams. Please feel free to prove this wrong. The point is that if Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, Miguel Andujar, Luis Severino, and the rest of our star prospects are as good as we’ve seen, I want the Yankees to extend them as soon as possible before they hit free agency. I want them to get paid. I want them to remain in pinstripes.
This is what I wanted them to do with Robinson Cano as well, which brings me to the other reason why I don’t care about the extra year of service time. Bottom line, I don’t care about the 2025 New York Yankees. I also don’t care about the 2023 Yankees. Hell, I really don’t care about the 2020 Yankees. I care about the 2018 Yankees and since it’s September, maybe the 2019 Yankees a teensy weensy bit.
The wise Yoda once said, “All his life has he looked away... to the future, to the horizon. Never his mind on where he was... what he was doing.”
This is what I think of whenever fans mention that extra year service time down the line. I care about what helps the current team. Numerous things can happen between now and then. I get the need to prepare for the future, but you can only plan so much. If calling a prospect up helps the team win now, do it. If calling a prospect up gets that player a month’s worth of potential major-league playing time, do it.
Overall, I simply believe that owners have convinced a lot of fans to constantly focus on the future to mask said owners being cheap. Until the rules are change, teams are going to continue to do this. It’s not gaming the system, it’s using it. The Yankees pride themselves on winning. It’s in their pinstriped blood. Hal and Hank, as well as Brian Cashman, have stated that they will do what it takes to win. I just hope that going forward, the Yankees pride winning above future service time. Just because the system exists doesn’t mean you have to use it.
This is just me though. Please let me know in the comment why you do or do not care about the extra year of service time.