The latest projections anticipate that a player will need a total of two years and 39 days of Major League service time in order to achieve Super Two Status, meaning they’ll go to arbitration four times instead of the usual three. The official cutoff date cannot be determined until after the season concludes, but these projections have been relatively accurate in years past, according to details passed along by Ben Nicholson-Smith at MLB Trade Rumors.
This extra year of arbitration eligibility often allows the players who reach Super Two to earn more than their peers. Given the fact that these players often see significant pay increases a year early, this isn’t always the best case scenario for many teams hoping to retain their young stars for as long as possible at an affordable rate. Should the cutoff come in right around the two years, 39 day mark a number of players will see their first pay increases delayed a year – including Giancarlo Stanton, Alexi Ogando, Daniel Hudson, Andrew Cashner, and others. Stanton, in particular, appears to be a prime candidate for the Miami Marlins to discuss an extension with before he reaches arbitration one year from now.
Stephen Strasburg will also miss Super Two status, according to Nicholson-Smith’s calculations, which works in Washington’s favor.
The right-hander’s rookie contract was a four year pact, worth roughly $15.1 Million. That deal included a $7.5 Million signing bonus (which was paid out in three installments, the last coming in January 2011). He also earned $400,000 in 2009, $2 Million in 2010, $2.5 Million in 2011, and $3 Million this season.
Had Strasburg achieved Super Two status, he’d head to arbitration this winter and would certainly be seeing a raise over his $3 Million salary this season. Given his success on the mound to date in his career, it would have been completely possible to see Strasburg’s salary double this coming season. Jordan Zimmermann was a Super Two last winter, for a comparison. He and the Nationals agreed to a new deal before an actual arbitration hearing took place, but Zimmermann still received a 515% increase in salary (from $415,000 in 2011 to $2.3 Million in 2012). The two pitchers naturally came from different places in their contract history, so this isn’t a perfect comparison but it’s still an example of the impact Super Two status can have on an organization.
Given the likelihood that Strasburg misses this mark, the Nationals can renew his contract for next season at an amount they feel comfortable with. It’s likely safe to expect that Strasburg will see a small raise, but he won’t jump much above $3.5-3.75 Million for the 2013 season. His salary beyond that, however, is another story that will have to be addressed in the future.