Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister

Lance McAlister covers everything in Cincinnati sports! Host of sports talk on Cincinnati News Radio 700WLW and ESPN 1530!Full Bio


MLB Service Time and Super Two explained

MLB Service Time and Super Two explained

It figures I did background, talked with agents, wrote this up....and then the news broke the Reds were calling up Matt McLain.
Either way, here is something to bookmark that helps explain service time and Super Two when it comes to calling up prospects.

Let’s set major league readiness and roster makeup to the side. There are two issues in play when it comes to the Reds and calling up prospects like Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Christian Encarnacion Strand and Andrew Abbott. One is how soon a player can reach free agency, the other is how many times a player is eligible for arbitration. 

Service Time

The 2023 Major League regular season consists of 186 days.

A player is deemed to have reached "one year" of Major League service upon spending 172 days on the ML roster (active or injured list) in a given year. 

So, any player spending at least 15 days in the minor leagues this season will not accrue enough total days on the ML roster to earn a year of service time.

McLain, De La Cruz, Encarnacion Strand and Abbott, even if called up today, 

would not be able to accrue a season of ML service time.  

In most cases a player reaches free agency after six seasons. A player with five full seasons, and 171 days, by rule he would not be eligible for free agency, yet. So, keeping a player in the minors for 15 days would mean the difference between a team controlling a player for six seasons and seven seasons. . 


That is not in play with the Reds. The date has long since passed for the Reds to manipulate service time for prospects to gain an extra year of team control. Nor did the Reds “play the service time game” by delaying callups of Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft or Alexis Diaz. 

Could the Reds be waiting on call-ups be due to Super Two? 

Super Two

Super Two is a small group of players that earn an extra year of arbitration.

This group gets to go to arbitration after their second season, rather than a traditional third season. That means four trips to arbitration rather than three. 

To qualify for the Super Two designation, a player must rank in the top 22 percent in terms of service time among all players who have amassed between two and three years in the Majors. This is contingent on the actions of all major league teams. 

The cutoff date isn't known for sure until the pool of players with between two and three years of service time is defined. That information isn't certain until more than two years after players are called up. Teams tend to try to play it safe and that's why end of May to mid-June tends to be the neighborhood for callups. At that point, players are not likely to be able to reach Super Two status.  

The Super Two cutoff for 2022: two years and 128 days.

The 5-year average for Super Two cutoff is two years and 124 days. 

Incentive to promote:

The new CBA took steps to convince teams to roster a player who can immediately help them win. The new system rewards teams with extra draft picks if they promote their top prospects on Opening Day. A player who receives a full year of service time and finishes in the top three in Rookie of the Year voting or top five in MVP/Cy Young voting will earn his team an extra draft pick coming after the first round.


The ability for the Reds to prevent a prospect from getting four “bites at the arbitration apple” is still in play, but without a definite date known.

Could it actually be that the Reds want to be sure their prospects are ready before calling them up? Certainly. 

Could they fear putting a prospect in a tough spot and watching him get “Barrero’ed? No doubt.

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content

700WLW Podcasts

See All