March 31, 2019

MLB 2019 PREVIEW: Who’s winning, who’s losing and using abusing the system?

by Dan Bilicki In: Baseball

There seems to be a divide in Major League Baseball, but it’s not one that we usually notice.

It’s not about the standings – who’s trying to contend and who’s tanking into a rebuild – and it’s not about analytics – who’s going all-in and who’s using an old-school approach.

It’s about money, but it’s also not about who’s spending and who’s not. Well, kind of.

It’s about how teams are treating their high-end prospects and who is abusing a loophole in service time.

Thanks to some language in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, prospects that are on a big-league roster for less than a certain amount of time in a season won’t have it count towards their countdown to being arbitration eligible and closer to a payday.

So, every year, we see some of the best prospects start the season in triple-A, only to be called up in mid-April or slightly after that.

This season, we’re seeing it in Toronto with Vlad Guerrero Jr. (though he is very conveniently rehabbing a minor injury) and Cincinnati with Nick Senzel.

But, in a change of course, we’re also seeing teams eschew that strategy and get in the good books with their potential future superstars. The Mets started the season with Peter Alonso in the lineup while the White Sox have already signed Eloy Jimenez to a big, long-term deal. San Diego has been especially great with prospects, starting the season with Fernando Tatis Jr. and other youngsters on the roster.

Don’t think that guys will forget about this when free agency arrives. How willing would you be to give a “hometown discount” if your team actively tried to screw you out of money?

Regardless of what teams are doing to manipulate service time, there needs to be a change made in that section of the CBA. There’s no reason that guys that truly ready like Vlad (unless his injury is legit) and Senzel shouldn’t be with their big clubs. It should be all about putting out your best 25-man roster because, in the end, what’s “best for business” now could hurt a team at the box office now and in payroll later on, when the stars want to recoup what they lost.

As for the 2019 season, here’s what we see happening.

AL EAST: Boston Red Sox

AL CENTRAL: Cleveland Indians

AL WEST: Houston Astros

AL WILDCARDS: N.Y. Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays

AL MVP: Mike Trout, LAA

AL CY YOUNG: Gerrit Cole, HOU

NL EAST: Washington Nationals

NL CENTRAL: Milwaukee Brewers

NL WEST: Colorado Rockies

NL WILDCARDS: Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis

NL MVP: Nolan Arenado, COL

NL CY YOUNG: Max Scherzer, WAS

ALCS: Boston over Houston

NLCS: Milwaukee over Colorado

WORLD SERIES: Boston over Milwaukee

WORST TEAM: Baltimore Orioles

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