Despite all signs pointing towards the contrary, two of baseball's top prospects — Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays) and Eloy Jiménez (White Sox) — are not expected to make their team's Opening Day rosters. The reasoning behind the move? Service time manipulation.
Players receive MLB service time for every day they spend on a team's active roster and/or injured list. One year of service time equates to 172 days spent on an active roster/injured list; for reference, MLB's regular season is 187 days long. After six years of MLB service time, a player is eligible for free agency.
Essentially, the Blue Jays and White Sox will gain another year of control over Guerrero Jr. and Jimenez by keeping them in the minor leagues to start the 2019 season. Kris Bryant, of course, is no stranger to this.
After an impressive showing in spring training in 2015 (.425/.477/1.175 slash line, nine home runs, 15 RBIs in 14 games) the Cubs sent Bryant to Triple-A Iowa to start the season. In an interview with The Athletic's Sahadev Sharma (subscription required), Bryant discussed his frustrations over teams manipulating a player's service time.
“It was so obvious,” Bryant said regarding his demotion to start the 2015 season. “I think they’re going to do it to (Vladimir Guerrero, Jr.). ‘Oh, he’s gotta work on his defense.’ Stuff like that. But now I can look back on it and just laugh about it because I was told to work on my defense too and I think I got three groundballs in those games that I played. So it’s like, ‘Oh, now he’s ready.’”
Bryant has been quite vocal in the early stages of spring training. Saturday, he spoke at length regarding how motivated he is this season after being criticized for struggling offensively while dealing with a shoulder injury.
Bryant said, "You know, when you're not playing, you have a whole lot of time to kind of just sit there and either go through a Twitter rabbit hole or whatever, you start seeing things about yourself.
"And seeing things saying 'Trade him' and this and that. And I'm like, 'Alright.' I'm motivated," he said. "Keep them coming. Bring it."Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Cubs easily on your device.