MLB’s Service Time Issue


Image courtesy of Lookout Landing

Emmett Gaffney, Co-Editor

MLB has a lot to work on to grow and fix the game. In this piece, I will focus on the latter. There are many things that need to be fixed in the MLB, but one glaring problem is service time manipulation. For those who do not know, service time is the amount of time a player has at the major league level until he hits free agency. So, the longer teams wait to call up their prospects, the more control they have over them. Recently, the Seattle Mariners called up their top prospect, Jarred Kelenic, who will be the focus of this article.

Kelenic is an absolute stud, ranked 4 in MLB’s top prospects. He could, and probably should, have been called up to the show last year, but that would give the Mariners one less year of control over him. Quite petty, no?

So you’d think they would call him up to start the 2021 season, especially after losing reigning Rookie of the Year Kyle Lewis for a short period. But no. Because if they brought Kelenic up to start the season, his clock would have started, thus making him a free agent a year earlier. So, Kelenic played *6* games at the minor league level and absolutely mashed. He hit .370 with 5 RBIs.

But thankfully, he got those 6 games in at the minor league level (if you cannot tell, I am being sarcastic).

This hurts the team the most. When organizations have players that can help the team win a World Series (which should be the ultimate goal of a baseball team), and do not call them up, it directly makes the team worse. Because of this, a worse product is put on the field, hurting the fans. When the fans don’t show up (and rightfully so) to watch their team lose, it hurts the organization. This never-ending cycle is flat-out bad for baseball.

This is the latest service time issue, but it has happened for years. It happened with Kris Bryant a few years back with the Cubs, causing him to hit free agency in 2021, not 2020. Teams come up with pointless reasons for keeping their kids down in the minors. For Bryant, it was “to work on his defense.”

MLB needs to fix this issue. Fortunately, there is a CBA coming up where the issue will hopefully be resolved. But by teams not calling up their players, they are hurting the fans, team, and organization as a whole.