Section 518

Where we endeavor to stay positive about the 2011 Mets…

A Note on Ike Davis and Service Time

Posted by JD on April 18, 2010

I’m sure you’ve heard about the imminent promotion of Ike Davis by now. It’s always exciting when a top prospect debuts with the big club, and this time it’s doubly so: first base has been a sore point since Carlos Delgado got injured last season. But, as with everything in life, there is a cost associated with the move.

Adding Davis to the roster starts his service time clock. A player becomes eligible for arbitration after his third full year in the majors. I’ve always been confused as to what exactly constitutes a year of service time, so I did some digging. From the awesome baseball blog, The Book (brought to us by Tom Tango, Michael Lichtman, and Andrew Dolphin):

Right now, the number is 172, which means that a player has to be on the active roster or the disabled list for about 95 percent of the season in order to accumulate enough days for one full year.

By my quick calculation there are only 168 service days left in 2010, meaning that Ike Davis can’t serve a full year. His clock will still start and he’ll be that much closer to arbitration, but he won’t get a full season until 2011. And if he doesn’t produce, sending him down to Buffalo pauses his clock*. There’s very little downside to this move.

*Another factor to consider: he’s a slam-dunk candidate for a September call-up anyway.

I’ve been solidly in the Chris Carter camp primarily because I didn’t want to see yet another short-term move (promoting Davis) cause long-term pain. That’s out the window now. Let’s bring up Davis and see what the kid can do. It can hardly be worse than the team’s current first basemen.

UPDATE: Ike Davis is in the Buffalo line-up today, meaning we probably won’t see him until tomorrow (at the earliest). I’ve read a lot of tweets suggesting that tomorrow is a service time threshold for Davis, but I can’t find anything on the web that suggests that 167 days of service time is any better than (or even different from) 168. If anyone does know, please help me out.

On a related note, I found this great reference for arbitration/service time questions.

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