Photo Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

MLB’s proposed worst-case-scenario service time plan and what it means for the Blue Jays

Earlier today, I wrote about the updated talks between Major League Baseball and the Players’ Association and the issues the two sides were working on in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic pushing the season back.

The really big issue on the table right now is service time. If there is a season, it isn’t complicated to work around. The league would make an amendment on the league around what a full season of service time means in this one-off situation so that players could accrue a regular, full season in the league even if the 2020 season were only 81 games, for example. But, in a doomsday, worst-case-scenario situation, things get a little bit trickier.

According to Ken Rosenthal, MLB and the PA are working on ironing out an agreement for how service time for 2020 would be calculated in the event the season gets cancelled. Apparently, MLB is willing to give players the same service time they earned in 2019 this year, even if there isn’t a season.

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This is an incredibly pro-player proposition. My guess is that MLB is actively trying not to further upset the players right now, given the fact the Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire soon and baseball can’t afford a lockout. It’s no secret there’s animosity from the players towards the league right now, and the league coming down hard on this issue would really escalate matters.

Service time is a major issue for the players heading into the next CBA conversation. There’s been plenty of discussion about how the PA wants players to be able to able to reach free agency quicker by limiting the number of control years that teams have. With this being such a hot-button issue, trying to force the players to essentially sacrifice a year for service even though they got one year older would be a disaster for the relationship between the two sides.

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Anyways, what does this mean for the Blue Jays?

It means Ken Giles will become a free agent this winter even if there isn’t a season. So, worst-case scenario, the Blue Jays won’t have a chance to trade him if the season is cancelled. I would guess in that situation that the Jays would give him a qualifying offer to either get him back for 2021 or get a compensatory draft pick.

It also means that Bo, Vlad, and Biggio would inch closer towards free agency. This proposition basically just takes 2019 and mirrors it for 2020, so those three would have their service time doubled from where it is now.

In the case of Biggio, it would mean that he wouldn’t become a Super Two as he was projected to be. Biggio was on pace to go the Josh Donaldson route, giving him four years of arbitration, but this would nix that possibility. Biggio would enter 2021, in this situation, with 1.071 days of service time as opposed to 1.129 had the 2020 season gone down as normal.

The only ones who really get a raw deal here are players who were set to make their debuts this season. For example, Nate Pearson, who isn’t currently on the Jays’ 40-man roster, would not accrue any service time.

But this is all a worst-case-scenario. If there’s a shortened season, there’ll be a whole other conversation to be had and all of this will be moot. Honestly, if this does become the situation and 2020 is cancelled, there’ll be much, much bigger issues for all of us to worry about than Ken Giles’ free agency.

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