Mallex Smith narrowly missed gaining Super Two status. This could greatly impact his earning power once he becomes arbitration eligible in 2020. This is good news for the Tampa Bay Rays but bad news for Mallex’s bank account.
Per the rules of the Major League Baseball, for a player to gain Super Two status:
"To qualify for the Super Two designation, players must rank in the top 22 percent, in terms of service time, among those who have amassed between two and three years in the Majors. Typically, this applies to players who have two years and at least 130 days of service time, although the specific cutoff date varies on a year-to-year basis."
If you are wondering how many service days a player must be on a Major League roster or disabled list to gain one year of service time, the answer is 172. Not to mention, for a player to be eligible for Super Two status they must have spent at least 86 days on the Major League roster or disabled list the year leading up to a possible Super Two designation.
What does Super Two Status mean?
Well, if a player gains super two status, they become arbitration eligible a year early. Typically, a player is arbitration eligible for three years prior to free agency. Why is an extra year of arbitration eligibility important? Because, arbitration earnings are based off of a player’s prior earnings. Not only would a player like Mallex Smith earn more money this coming season, his earning power would also increase in his second, third, and fourth years of arbitration eligibility.
In Mallex’s case, he will earn near the league minimum this year and once he becomes arbitration eligible next year, his earnings will be reflective of his 2019 salary. A player like Trea Turner on the other hand earned Super Two status and will likely earn almost ten times what he would have made this year if he missed the cutoff.
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How close was Mallex?
The cutoff date this year, which varies year to year was set at 2 years and 134 days. Mallex has accrued 2 years and 125 days worth of service time in his career. Meaning that he only missed the cutoff, and more importantly, a larger pay-day by 9 days. Had the cutoff this year mirrored the 2017 cutoff (2 years and 123 days), Mallex would be headed to arbitration a year early.
Looking ahead to 2020, Mallex will only earn a raise based off of his 2019 salary which will be around the league minimum. You can start to see the long-term impacts that Super Two status has on a player’s financial future. Is it fair that Mallex is going to be making the league minimum in 2019, a year after being on of the Rays most valuable players? No, but the Tampa Bay Rays aren’t complaining.