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Board Explanations and Misc FAQs

Nino Colla | Thursday, March 07, 2013 | Best Blogger Tips

You are probably wondering, what's with all your silly excel spreadsheets? What are you, Mark Shapiro?

Well no, Mark Shapiro knows how to put together formulas. All I know how to do is make stuff add up and make it all pretty color-wise.

Basically, it's a resource I use. Whenever I have an issue, I refer to my boards. I like my information in one place and hopefully other people get some use out of the work I put into it. Honestly, I do it for myself, but if other people use it as a reference tool, all the better.

Why do I need it? Well quite simply, I like to keep up to date on all this information.

There are some explanations that needs to be attached to all of my sheets. I've also taken the liberty to compile the best information I can in terms of questions people commonly have about rules and other stuff that is just confusing. Roster rules, salary things, all that stuff contributes to the confusion that surrounds the "management" side of baseball.

You really learn something new all the time, so as I come across things, I'll add them here. I've compiled a great list of resources to refer to because if I can't spell it out to where someone can understand it (and often I don't even understand it) usually someone else has. Plus other people have done the work and they should get the credit for it.


ACTIVE ROSTER

This is quite simply the current active roster for the Cleveland Indians. There are no really unexplainable things on my sheet. I've also listed the players on the Disabled List and have a running list of players who were at one point on the active roster. That really is just to keep the information of those certain players so I don't have to re-look it up, but it is also nice to see who has been up and down.

When September 1st rolls around, the active roster expands to 40. Clubs can call-up players as they desire, but they must be on the 40-man roster. More on the specifics of that later.


40-MAN ROSTER AND PAYROLL

This is the crown-jewel of all my sheets. This is my bible, this is my ultimate guide. I refer to this on a constant basis.

I search high and low for exact information for this and I think it represents probably the most accurate PROJECTION of the club's current payroll that you will find on the internet. Mainly it lists the current year salary for each player. I compile the specific salary information from Cot's Baseball Contracts when they update. There are also snippets that get through sources like MLB.com and the Plain Dealer that I use and refer to. I will usually link a specific one if needed.

The other reason I believe this sheet is so important is because of the option years I can track. Finding out option years is one of the toughest things, especially for traded players. I also like knowing exactly how much longer a player is under team control and when exactly are they headed for arbitration.

Here are some explanations that I've taken the liberty of looking up and breaking down, as well as how it relates to the board I've put together.

ARBITRATION

What is Salary Arbitration?

There is a process in MLB called salary arbitration, which occurs after a player accumulates three years of service time, or somewhere near that. There are certain situations where a player can go to arbitration before reaching three full years of service time, bu we'll dive into that later. More on service time in a bit as well.

Basically when player reaches arbitration eligibility the team can decide to offer that player a contract (they usually do) or non-tender them, which basically makes them a free agent. Best example of that was Ty Wigginton a few years ago with the Houston Astros. They did not want to pay him and not being able to trade him, they simply let him go.

Usually though a player and a team go into the process of arbitration, or something close to it. Not everyone goes to arbitration, some get signed before hand. When you enter arbitration, you are eligible for three years and you are basically signing three, one-year contracts with the team. Unless of course you go the route the Indians have over the past decade and sign your players before they reach arbitration and sign them throughout those years, making that whole process void.

Now if there is no long-term contract the player and the team will negotiate a contract that they think the player is worth for this upcoming season. If they agree to a deal, they are avoiding the arbitration process. If they cannot agree to terms, the situation goes to arbitration. Both sides will submit an amount they think the player is worth and it goes to a third party arbitrator. Usually both sides will come to some middle ground because the danger in going to arbitration is that they will select one of the two amounts. There is no middle ground.

Usually the cases that go to arbitration are ones where sides are far apart on a salary. The arbitrator uses the current salaries of players with similar production and age as a guide in determining how much the player should get.

Pre-Arbitration

What do players do before arbitration? How come some make more than others but all usually make an amount somewhere in the $400,000 range?

Basically the player is at the team's mercy, which in a way is a good thing. When players get full free agency rights, they have no mercy on teams, so in a way three years of minimum salary is a good equalizer. A player pre-arbitration needs to accumulate those three years of service time. Until they do, they make an amount that hovers somewhere around the league minimum. Basically the team, sometime during spring training, will tender a basic offer to the player and the player usually accepts it, knowing full well there is no negotiation and there is no other way to get more money. You could hold out, but usually you haven't proved enough within three years of service time to do such a thing. A player and a team can come to terms, but if they don't, the team will set the salary of the player but it cannot be less than 20% of what it was last year and it has to be above the league minimum. That's why there are some weird numbers about the $400,000 mark.

On Our Board

So what exactly does the Arbitration section on our board mean? Basically it is a projection of when that player will be eligible for arbitration. Because there is no telling how many days of service time a single player will accumulate over the year (Some players spend a good part of four years up and down, yet still not on track to reach arbitration at one point) I just guesstimate. If it has a year and a star by it, that is the year that I'm projecting they be eligible for. In other words, if it says 2013*, my guess is that they'll be eligible after they complete the 2012 season.

If it says 0 ML ST it basically means the player hasn't accumulated a single day of service time and there is no point in projecting at this point in time.

If it says # YR REM that means that the player has already reached arbitration and that is the years left they have of it, after this year.

If it says nothing what so ever, that player has signed a deal voiding their arbitration years or was signed as a free agent and no longer has to go through the arbitration process.

OPTION YEARS

Option years are confusing to many people, even myself. Not many people understand it go by option years and not single options. If you hear a player has been optioned to the minors, that means they have been sent down to the minor leagues, obviously. If a player has three option years, and they get optioned down to Columbus three times in one year, they've only used one option year.

In other words if you are optioned at any point during the year, you use up an option year, and one option year only. You may have only been optioned once during the year, it counts just as many times as if you were sent down three times.

Once a player is added the 40-man roster, they receive three option years.

Here are some important exceptions that you need to keep in mind.

- If a player does not get "optioned" to the minors and is on the major league roster for an entire year, they do not use an option year. See David Huff, Aaron Laffey during their rookie years after they got called up and were not sent down.

- If a player is optioned out and is called back up before 20 days, an option year will not be used.

There are also two rules about optioning players down.

- If a player is optioned out, they must wait at least ten days before being called back up unless the club places a player on the disabled list in that ten-day time frame.

- A player with five years of service time accumulated may not be optioned out without his consent. For example, Player A may still have option years left, but if the club were to try and exercise one of those options, if he had five years of service time (again, more on that later) accumulated, he could refuse.

That last rule comes into play a lot when a player is out of options and a club wants to remove the player from the 40-man roster. If they are not at the five year mark in terms of service time and are not claimed on waivers by another team, they basically have no choice but to report to the level they are being optioned to. (This actually came into play at the end of spring training in 2010 when Wyatt Toregas, who was not out of options, but was still needed to be booted off the 40-man to clear room for Austin Kearns, was designated for assignment. Toregas was actually optioned to Akron because of Carlos Santana starting at Triple-A. Toregas has no other choice but to accept the assignment to Akron when he went unclaimed on waivers).

One last thing to remember on option years. If a player, who is on the 40-man roster, has spent the entire year in Columbus and is "optioned up" to Cleveland after September 1st, that does not count as an option year being used. Why? Because in September, the active roster is expanded to 40 instead of 25 and essentially, any 40-man roster occupant is on the active roster.


On Our Board

On our 40-man board, the options column is simple. If there is a single number, that means that player has that number of option years left (that number does not exceed 3). If a player has a (+1) next to their number, that means they've got an additional option year if they need it. An additional option year is added under certain circumstances

Tony Sipp is the most recent example of such. A player can gain an additional option year if they are optioned three times (a player can be optioned from Columbus to Akron and use an option year) and do not have five full season of PROFESSIONAL (meaning in baseball, from the time they were signed and drafted) experience. A full season is defined as 90 days on a active roster.

If it says 0 in the option column, the player has no more options but are not under a long term contract, meaning they need to be placed on waivers before they can be sent down (with all the other exceptions mentioned earlier taken into account).

If it says No in the option column, the player has no option year on their contract. Beyond arbitration, I start listening if they have a player option, team option, mutual option, or vesting option in this column. If there is no option if such, I simply put No. If there is an option, I put the year and the amount that option is worth. If there are multiple option years, I list just the years.

SPLIT CONTRACTS

A split contract is simple. If a player is on the 40-man roster and they will spend time in the major and minor leagues, they will likely have a split contract. They won't make the same base salary if they are in the minors, they'll make significantly less in the minor leagues, of course.

Players that have not accumulated any days of service time will usually start out with the $62,500 (one year) amount and it is likely the amount they will make if they aren't called up. If a player has accumulated some service time, they'll likely be given that split contract where they make more money than the $62.5K amount, but not the $400K league minimum.

This part is very confusing and really I don't pay too much attention to it, mainly because numbers on split contracts are incredibly hard to find. I'll usually indicate split contracts if I know for sure, but in the grand scheme of a final projected salary number, it doesn't make all that much difference, so I don't worry about it.

SERVICE TIME

What exactly is service time and why do teams get so conservative with it early in a players career? Simply put, a day or two of service time could mean holding onto a player an extra year. You laugh, but for a team like Cleveland, this is crucial.

Every DAY spent in the major leagues (whether they are playing a game or not) counts as a day of service time. One full year of major league service is equal to 172 days of service time. There are more than 172 days in a major league season (it would very, but every day from the first day of the major league season, to the last counts) but a player cannot accumulate more than 172 days in one season in the majors. So once the player has spent 172 days in the major leagues for a particular season, the counter basically stops.

Players on either the 15-day or 60-day disabled list accumulate service time.

Once a player accumulates three full years of service time, they are arbitration eligible, as stated earlier. There is one exception, which is called Super Two Status, which is... Super Complicated and Annoying.

I cannot explain it because I don't understand it.. Just read the MLBPA's explanation. If you understand it, good for you.

There is something in the business called.. Well I don't know what they are officially called.. I guess they just say 10-5 rights, or veteran rights. Either way if a player has accumulated 10 years of service time overall and 5 years consecutive with one particular team, they obtain a full no-trade cause. Some believe the Indians will never ever have to worry about this again.


On Our Board

I've started keeping track of real-time service time for all players within the Indians organization. If I lose my train of thought, there is a chance someone's clock is inaccurate, but for the most part I keep on top of things and try to update it every few days during the season. Service time reads as such.

4.123
4 = Years
.123 = Days

DISABLED LISTS

I think even the most casual fan knows what the disabled list is in Major League Baseball, but there are some intricacies to it that you need to understand.

The basics are of course as follows. If a player is injured, a team can choose to place him on the disabled list. If they place this player on the 15-day disabled list, the player is on the DL for at least 15 days and the team can call up a player on it's 40-man roster in that injured players place. If a player is placed on the 60-day disabled list, the player must spend 60 days on the DL and another player not only can be called up in his place, the team can add someone to it's 40-man roster as that 60-day DLed player will not count towards their total.

They must however clear a spot for that player once they are activated off the 60-day DL. You cannot carry a 60-day DL stint through spring training from a previous season. A player can be transferred from the 15-day DL to the 60-day DL. A player can be placed on the disabled list retroactively if they've been inactive, but that inactivity cannot exceed 10 days.

Players that are on the disabled list can be sent on rehab assignments. Pitchers can spend up to a month on a rehab assignment, while position players can spend 20 days on one.

On Our Board

On the active roster, I'll move any player that is placed on the disabled list to the disabled list portions of the board. On the 40-man roster, if someone is placed on the 60-day disabled list I'll keep them on the board, but move them below the fold as their salary is still counting towards the Indians payroll.

On the depth chart, I'll indicate if a player is on the DL and if they are out for a long portion of time I'll usually just remove them from their spot on the depth chart and keep them primarily in the DL portion. I'll usually indicate if a player is starting in their place by placing a green position next to the replacement player. For example... Grady Sizemore is on the disabled list, but bench player Trevor Crowe is playing in his place. Trevor Crowe will have a neon green CF next to his name while Grady Sizemore has a blue DL next to his.

RESTRICTED AND BEREAVEMENT LISTS

The restricted list is basically like suspending someone. It sort of works like the disabled list, but it sort of doesn't. There really is no rules to it, or at least it would seem like. The Bereavement list however does have some rules and it serves a purpose. It basically is there for family emergencies that pull a player away from the game.

A player must be on the bereavement list for at least three days, but no more than seven. Just like the disabled list, a player from the 40-man roster can be called up to take the other player's place on the roster.


EXPANDED SALARY INFORMATION

What we have here is sort of what I've explained a bit earlier. It basically is a board that goes beyond the initial dollars and cents of a player's year to year contract. The expanded salary board tracks service time and also any additional bonus money a player may be eligible for.

The first link at the bottom has all the specific bonus information and the Expanded Salary board itself will track if any of that bonus money is obtained.

The Expanded Salary board also tracks service time, as pointed out earlier in this FAQ. A player is color coded in terms of their current status. A player's agent is also listed if that information is known. Usually it is hard to find out a player's agent until they either A) really good and likely to sign a contract extension in the near future or B) are a high draft pick and that information came out when they got drafted. If you know of a player's agent that is not on that board, feel free to let me know so I can add it.

I've since expanded it to count the service time in the particular year, so I can easily add it to the number of days the player had accumulated coming into the year. 

ORG DEPTH CHART

This is virtually every player in the Indians organization, or at least close to it, or at least every player that matters.

Basically it is a quick one-look at every level of the organization and who is currently where. In most cases the 1-9 and rotations are correct, but in the lower levels, things fluctuate and can change on a day-to-day basis. For the most part, things are up-to-date, or at least I try to have them be.

Everything is spelled on this in some area. Why are certain players on the board in the disabled list colored orange? That means they are out for the year. Why do some have a $ next to their name? That means they are a signed draft pick.

All the codes are marked on the lower right corner of the board. The board has a section for draft picks, players not currently active or in extended spring training, every level of the organization, injured players, and the coaches are even listed under each team.

PROSPECT OVERVIEW

Sometimes I need to go further than just having a player listed on the organization depth chart. That is why there is a prospect overview. This is for the players we don't know a lot about.

It is also to keep track of how they've been rated in the offseason by the experts and also a way to try and accumulate them into something that makes a little bit of sense. This board is nice for me to use in editing mode because I can sort by level, draft year, prospect points, first name, whatever I want.

But that function isn't exactly available right now to the public. Basically though this lists every relevant prospect in the Indians organization, how they were acquired, their draft year and round (if they were traded for, I list the round and put the year in parenthesis) if that is how they were acquired, their birthdate, what level they are currently at, and the year they are first eligible for the Rule 5 Draft.

What is the Rule 5 draft?

Basically it is a draft that was started in order to stop teams from just stashing players at the minor league levels. If a player has spent four years in the minor leagues, is not on the 40-man roster, and was signed after the age of 19 or older) he is eligible to be picked. If a player has spent five years in the minors, is not on the 40-man roster, and was signed before the age of 19) he too is eligible to be picked.

Prospect Points

What is prospect points? Basically my silly way of tallying how highly a prospect was ranked among the many publications in the game.

Basically I take the top ten from the five experts listed in the board (Tony Lastoria of IPI, Keith Law of ESPN, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and John Sickels) and give points. If you are ranked first, you get ten points, if you are ranked 10th, you get one point. I do list if the player has been ranked, regardless of it isn't top ten, but don't count it towards Prospect Points. Tony Lastoria ranks more than the top 25, but he works hard to compile that information and if you want to know who is 26-100, you can pick up his book or read his site.

I then add up all those points and the more points you have, the better. Example, in 2010, Carlos Santana received the number one ranking from all five experts and that resulted in 50 prospect points, the highest you'll get in this system.


Information on this page was accumulated from the following links.


Options - Biz of Baseball

Salary Arbitration 101 - Purple Row Academy

FAQ - MLBPA