An extended stay in the minor leagues this season would affect Yasiel Puig's… (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles…)
PHOENIX – In a story that ran in the Tuesday edition of The Times, I wrote about how the service time Yasiel Puig accrues this season could determine when he becomes a free agent.
If he spends 20 or more days in the minor leagues, the Dodgers will be able to hold onto their prized Cuban outfielder for an extra year, because an extended stay in the minors makes him eligible for free agency after the 2019 season rather than the 2018 season.
Less of an issue, but an issue nonetheless, is a clause in Puig’s contract that allows him to opt out of the seven-year, $42-million deal if he accrues enough service time.
Here’s how it works:
Once Puig has enough service time to have become arbitration-eligible had he not signed this particular deal, he can void the contract. That doesn't make Puig a free agent, but it allows him to have his salary determined by arbitration.
Players with three years of service time automatically become eligible for salary arbitration. So if Puig is credited with a full year of service time this season, he could go through the arbitration process as early as 2016.
Puig could become arbitration-eligible in 2016 even if he doesn’t have three full years of service time by then. Of the players who have been in the major leagues between two and three years, the ones who rank in the top 22% in service time accrued are eligible for arbitration as “Super Two” players. The “Super Two” cutoff this year was two years and 139 days of service time.
In other words, if Puig spends about 140 days in the major leagues this year, his 2016, 2017 and 2018 salaries can be decided by an arbitrator.
But the Dodgers are already guaranteeing Puig $6.5 million, $7.5 million and $8.5 million in those seasons. Whatever Puig is rewarded in arbitration is unlikely to be significantly more than that, and even if it is, the deep-pocketed Dodgers can probably afford it.
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