Last week, Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi wrote that “major-league sources” told them the Miami Marlins have decided they will not pay any of their 0-3 year service class players a single dollar above the Major League Baseball minimum. A player cannot become a free agent until he has accumulated six full years of Major League service time. Salary arbitration comes into play when a player and club cannot agree on a contract prior to the player accumulating the six years of service, but after racking up three years of service. The exception is a group of players in the “Super-Two” class. This group of players is comprised of players who have played for two years but less than three. Additionally, they must have accumulated 86 days of service in the previous season and rank in the top 17 percent of total service time in their class.
Basically, the Marlins wish to take advantage of the fact that 0-3 year service class players have absolutely no leverage in negotiating their year-to-year contract by keeping such players at the Major League minimum, which increases slightly every year pursuant to the MLB Collective Bargaining Agreement. While it may sound like a smart business practice, this is not typically how MLB teams choose to operate. Such a decision could have a damaging effect on the club’s players’ psyches. Further, it will surely piss off quite a few baseball agents who look forward to finally cashing in on players they have represented through Minor League Baseball without a dime in compensation.
According to the MLBPA Regulations Governing Player Agents (As Amended Effective October 1, 2010), baseball agents cannot receive a commission on a client’s salary if it is at the Major League Baseball minimum. The following screengrab comes from Section 6(I), which is titled, “Limitations on Player Agent Fees.”
So basically, a club is willing to risk damaging its relations with its players and their agents in an effort to receive a windfall of a few thousand dollars per player, per year. Perhaps the potential consequences are worth it to the club.