Brewers Are Totally Manipulating RHP Prospect Drew Rasmussen’s Service Time

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 14: Drew Rasmussen #73 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during Summer Workouts at Miller Park on July 14, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - JULY 14: Drew Rasmussen #73 of the Milwaukee Brewers throws a pitch during Summer Workouts at Miller Park on July 14, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Brewers have just called up pitching prospect Drew Rasmussen at a very convenient time for the ballclub.

After the disastrous pitching performance against the Twins the other night, one could easily surmise that the Brewers made some roster moves the next day in response to that. On Thursday, the Brewers called up their No. 10 overall prospect and top RHP prospect in Drew Rasmussen.

He impressed last year in the minors, he impressed during spring training, and he impressed during Summer Camp. He had the talent to make the roster on Opening Day, but instead was sent to Appleton for further “development”.

Yeah, okay.

Now, a few weeks into the season, the Brewers are calling Rasmussen up to join their bullpen at a very convenient time.

Drew Rasmussen, Service Time, And Arbitration

After having kept Rasmussen down for a few weeks, the Brewers are guaranteed another season of team control over the young fireballer. If he were to never go back to the minor leagues again, he would be scheduled to reach free agency after the 2026 season.

This gives the Brewers just under seven seasons of big league performance before they can lose him in free agency.

But that’s not all. By calling him up right now, of those seven seasons they will have of Rasmussen, they are likely to get four of them at the pre-arbitration level which the team dictates the salary and the player has no leverage.

Each game in a 60 game season is worth 2.7 games in a 162 game season. So each day in the 2020 big league season is worth 2.7 service days. By calling him up today, with 46 possible service days remaining in the 2020 season, Rasmussen will max out at the equivalent of 124 days of service time.

Let’s say Rasmussen never goes back down to the minor leagues again. At the end of the 2022 season, Rasmussen’s service time will read 2.124, which is two years and 124 days of service. The Super-Two cutoff for arbitration players fluctuates each year, but generally speaking, a player needs about 2.130 in service time to reach arbitration and Super-Two status. That leaves Rasmussen just about a week shy of reaching arbitration and getting paid a year earlier. Oh, so close.

Super-Two’s, if you need a refresher, are the top 22% of players between two and three years of service time, that is the 22% closest to three years of service. Those players get four years of arbitration and three at the team-determined salary, while everyone else who falls short gets three years of arbitration and four at the team-determined salary.

Corey Knebel is a Super-Two player and Josh Hader just barely reached Super-Two status last year. Hader’s service time was at 2.115, which was the lowest cutoff for Super-Two status in recent memory.

The cutoff date fluctuates from year to year, but Rasmussen’s service time, should he never go back down to the minors, is going to be right on the edge of a possible Super-Two, but still leaning towards the safe side for the club.

Don’t be surprised if Rasmussen goes down for 10 days or so once again during this season to give the team a little more breathing room when it comes to the Super-Two. They thought they were safe with Hader, and he ended up making the cut. Rasmussen has the potential to be just as good, and the cheaper the team can keep his salary, the better it is (for everyone except Rasmussen).

The Brewers totally manipulated Rasmussen’s service time in bringing him up when they did. I’m not blaming them for it. This is well within the rules and small market teams like the Brewers need to do things like this to keep their roster as competitive as possible for as long as they can. It’s smart management from David Stearns.

But it’s this kind of service time manipulation the players have been upset about in recent years and it’s contributed to the tensions between MLB and the MLBPA.

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This will be something that comes up in the next CBA talks between the league and the players’ association, but for right now, the Brewers are keeping Drew Rasmussen for an extra year and possibly avoided a Super-Two player.