Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reported last night that Ruben Tejada is considering a grievance against the Mets organization.
GM Sandy Alderson waited three days after the Las Vegas 51s finished their season – and a day after the Mets promoted outfielder Mike Baxter, reliever Greg Burke, catcher Juan Centeno and starter Aaron Harang – before he made Tejada the team’s final September call up. The move left Tejada one day short of a full year of service time, pushing back his arbitration and free agency eligibility by a year.
Now if Tejada is smart, he will realize that another year like 2013 – where he hit 202 / .259 / .260 and earned his demotion to the minor leagues – will likely bring him to “free agency” long before his 26th or 27th birthday comes around.
But by the same token, Alderson made a very petty move over a player who’s likely not a part of the Mets’ long-term plans.
To avoid these situations in the future – as well as financially-motivated delays in calling up highly regarded prospects, I propose a simplification of arbitration and free agency eligibility rules.
- In most instances, players will become eligible for free agency 10 seasons after signing their first professional contract. (If they sign before their 18th birthday, they have to wait 12 seasons for free agency. If they sign on or after their 30th birthday, they become eligible on the expiration of their contract.)
- Players become eligible for arbitration six seasons after signing their first professional contract (eight seasons if they sign prior to their 18th birthday.)
This should give teams the incentive to get players to the major leagues as soon as their ready, so we can enjoy watching the game’s best talent, instead of trying to figure out how long to delay call-ups for financial reasons.