Mains: Roster construction, service time, and the next CBA

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on March 27, 2019:

This report is excerpted from my presentation on March 10 at the SABR Analytics Conference in Phoenix. Slides and audio are available here. The first part of this series, discussing service time trends, is here. The second part, focused on disparities between hitters and pitchers, is here.

Shrinking MLB service time has resulted in fewer players reaching the threshold of six years’ experience which entitles them to free agency. Under free agency, players can conduct an auction for their services, which is effectively the way almost every employed person reading this gets paid. Prior to that, after three years’ service time, players can file for arbitration, which, in theory at least, helps ensure that they are paid commensurate to their peers.

Prior to that, compensation is determined solely by the players’ employer, subject to a floor of the MLB minimum salary. That floor is effectively a ceiling, as recently evidenced by the Rays renewing defending American League Cy Young award winner Blake Snell (two years, 72 days service time) for just $573,700, just $18,700 above the MLB minimum salary. (They later signed him to a long-term contract.)

Some have proposed changing free agency, requiring just five years of service time rather than six. This would accelerate players’ ability to receive a full market rate for their services, boosting player salaries.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: April 2, 2019. Last Updated: April 2, 2019.