The Pirates have some tough roster decisions coming up next week, and will need to create some room on their 40-man roster in order to bring up all of their best options. Some of the guys who are good candidates to get called up include Vance Worley, Radhames Liz, Pedro Florimon and Travis Snider. None of those guys are currently on the 40-man roster.
The only problem with creating 40-man spots is that there aren’t many candidates to come off the roster at the moment. There is currently one spot open on the roster, but the Pirates would need at least three more spots to add the three guys above. Looking at the 40-man roster, it doesn’t appear that they have three guys who could be designated for assignment, or even more than one guy for that matter.
As a result, the Pirates are going to have to get creative. And one creative way that has been suggested to gain extra roster spots is to bring up injured minor leaguers and place them on the 60-day disabled list. It’s not a bad idea, but it should have limitations.
This is an approach that you can’t take with every prospect, and one that you don’t want to take with top prospects. The main reason is service time. If you place Nick Kingham and Jameson Taillon on the 60-day disabled list, you have to call them up, and start their service time.
The obvious problem here is that you’re wasting a month of service time. Sure, you can try and get that back next year. But it means that you’re calling those guys up much later than normal. Instead of calling Taillon up in mid-June, you’re now waiting until the middle or end of July. Or, if they ignore Super Two, you’re calling him up in mid-to-late May instead of mid-April.
But there’s another rule that people don’t consider, and most don’t know about. This involves the disabled list out of Spring Training and when players can be placed on that list.
There’s a certain date each year where players need to be sent down in order to avoid getting injured in big league camp and spending time on the MLB disabled list. After this date, if a player gets injured in big league camp, he must go on the MLB disabled list. And for prospects, this means that you’d be starting their service time. This is why you see certain prospects with no service time going down around the same time in the middle of camp. They have no shot of making the team, and the team doesn’t want to risk them getting hurt and starting their service clocks.
But there’s a stipulation here that any player who has at least one day of MLB service time has to go on the MLB disabled list, no matter when the injury happens. This is why Brandon Cumpton went on the 60-day DL, despite his injury happening early in camp. It’s also why Taillon was able to be optioned to the minors, despite rehabbing from the start of camp after Tommy John surgery in 2014 — he had no service time and could be sent down.
So if you bring up Taillon this year, and he gets injured in camp next year at any time, you’d need to keep him on the MLB disabled list, which wastes more service time. In Kingham’s case, he won’t be back at all next year, which means you’d be burning a full year of service time by bringing him up now and placing him on the 60-day DL. That’s a high cost to pay for one roster spot.
This type of approach makes sense for someone like Casey Sadler or John Holdzkom, who are mostly used as depth during the regular season, or used in smaller roles. But for top prospects like Taillon and Kingham, it’s a waste of service time, all for a small reward of getting someone like Pedro Florimon on the roster in September.
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