Examining Michael Pineda’s service time

MLB prepared to adopt expanded replay with manager's challenge system
Thursday Night Open Thread
(Scranton Times-Tribune)
(Scranton Times-Tribune)

It has now been more than 20 months since the Yankees acquired Michael Pineda (and Jose Campos) from the Mariners for Jesus Montero (and Hector Noesi), and they’re still waiting to get some actual big league production out of the deal. Campos missed most of last year due to injury and is still in the lower levels of minors while Pineda has been out following major shoulder surgery. So far, the only useful thing to come out of that trade for New York was an open 40-man roster spot. It’s been a disaster to date, but luckily there’s time to change that.

Because he spent all of 2011 in the big leagues with the Mariners and all of 2012 on the Major League DL with the Yankees, Pineda came into 2013 with exactly two years of service time. The Bombers activated him off his rehab assignment and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton on July 7th, which was the 99th day of the season by my unofficial count. Pineda is sitting on two years and 99 days of service time at the moment, which is written 2.099 in baseball jargon.

Back in April, Ryan Galla of CAA Sports projected the Super Two cutoff at 2.119 of service time. The latest Collective Bargaining Agreement lowered the Super Two cutoff, which is one of the few things the players got out of the owners. More money for a select few players. Pineda has already been in Triple-A long enough to delay his free agency — he won’t be eligible until after the 2017 now — but delaying his arbitration clock is a little trickier because the team only has 20 or so days on the big league roster to play with, and that would be cutting it very close.

The regular seasons for the four full season minor league affiliates end no later than September 2nd, and of those four teams, only Double-A Trenton will go to the postseason. They haven’t clinched anything yet, but they have a six-game lead and 20 games to play. The Short Season Staten Island Yankees end their season on September 4th, but they aren’t going to the playoffs. The two Rookie GCL Yanks teams end their regular seasons on August 29th and it’s very likely one or both will go to the postseason. Those playoffs are very short though, a one-game series in round one and best-of-three series in round two. They’ll be over before you know it.

Pineda is currently on the Triple-A Scranton DL with tightness in his shoulder, but it’s nothing serious and it was reportedly last week he would be shut down for 7-10 days as a precaution. Today is day nine, but I doubt he’ll jump back into the RailRiders rotation. The Yankees will probably have Pineda ease back into things, first by playing catch on flat ground before advancing to the bullpen and a simulated game, something like that. His return to game action may still be two weeks away, when the minor league season just about ends.

(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

The Yankees end their regular season on September 29th, so the earliest they could activate Pineda and prevent him from getting those 20 extra days of service time is September 10th. Remember, that 2.119 figure is just a projection and my 2.099 figure is just an estimate, so that 20-day number should be taken with a grain of salt. If the Yankees want to keep Pineda in the minors as long as possible, they could send him to Double-A Trenton when healthy and hope they have a long playoff run, or they could just keep him on the DL and work him back very slowly. The latter gives them much more flexibility, obviously.

Now, there are some wildcards here beyond the uncertainty of that 20-day number. One, do the Yankees even care about Pineda’s arbitration clock? His free agency has been pushed back and that’s the most important thing. All this time missed due to injury means his first year arbitration raise would be relatively small, maybe putting him in the $2-2.5M salary range for 2014. Remember, he was an All-Star with Seattle back in the day, and that alone will earn him a nice raise. There is a carry over affect though, avoiding arbitration in 2014 doesn’t just save the team money next year, it saves them money from 2015-2017 as well. With the plan to get under the $189M luxury tax threshold looming, every saved dollar counts.

Two, the Yankees do want to try to get into the postseason. Their chances are small right now — 6.3% according to Baseball Prospectus — but they’ve been able to string together some wins of late and who knows where they’ll sit in two or three weeks. If they’re close enough to make a run, having Pineda on the team could help their cause. They have already indicated a willingness to use him out of the bullpen down the stretch, but Pineda could also give them another start if Phil Hughes continues to be un-pitchable.

Three, how does the team feel about the trade? Are they desperate to get Pineda to the big leagues so the swap looks like less of a disaster? I’m guessing no. They wouldn’t have optioned him to Triple-A in July if that was the case. The Yankees seem to be focused on getting him healthy and ready for Spring Training 2014. All of this stuff will impact the team’s decision about whether to try to delay Pineda’s arbitration clock next month, which will be easier said than done. This is already a second lost season, but maybe they could salvage it by further manipulating his service time.

MLB prepared to adopt expanded replay with manager's challenge system
Thursday Night Open Thread
  • YanksFan

    Still disagree w/ your assessment that the trade was a disaster. They haven’t gotten anything out of the trade yet, but I still do it 10 times out of 10. You got an All-Star high-upside pitcher. They’re never available for only 1 player just by the returns for Gonsalez & Latos at the same time. You want to talk opportunity cost of the trade I will still disagree. They were throwing out Lee/Halladay who are older pitchers soon to hit FA with a ton of money due them.

    They’ve already won the trade if you go by WAR. Noesi & Montero are both negative, a combined 1.6. They’re also both spending a lot of time in the minors.

    I say bring him up in September regardless. I don’t believe it will be that much of a difference for the 189 plan. And who knows what the cutoff is. It’s possible he’s already there. I would want him to get some exposure to the NY fans & media in preparation for 2014.

    • Revan

      Montero was asked for in trades with guys like Cliff Lee or Halladay. Not only do they have proven track records of MLB success but proven track records of health. And please don’t reference the current Halladay injury as if it means anything.

      Instead our best trade chip in like a decade was used essentially on a one year pitcher. Of course the upside is there but the risk was unnecessary. If the FO was so dead set on trading Montero I have no idea why we had to settle on Pineda.

      A disaster isn’t the best word but it sure as hell was a missed opportunity.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Yeah. Pretty much where I lean. They had one chance to fire that bullet. History thus far proves that the bullet should have fired. It was fired on the wrong guy.

      • mac1

        Yep, its all about opportunity cost – what else could they have gotten for Montero. They chose Pineda (which I liked) and it turned out to be a disaster (so far).

        Best trade chip in a decade is spot on, and the Yanks may not get anything out of Campos or Pineda.

      • rex

        Cashman agreed to give up Montero in a deal for Lee, so your reference is off-base.
        Pineda had had a monster rookie season. He is a huge kid who was one of the best pitchers in the game through the first half of his rookie season. And he was pitching, not just throwing. Pineda looked like a sure thing young stud starter to me.
        And whither Montero?
        He’s stunk in the big leagues, proven once and for all he’ll never be a big league catcher, and is currently serving a 50-game suspension for ‘roids.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      No WAR is not the same thing as zero WAR. Zero WAR implies that someone in the trade actually playing for the Yankees at some point. They haven’t won anything, stop being silly.

      • Cliff

        You’re right, zero WAR would be worse because all our SP have positive WAR. Better he not play at all than take up a roster spot while providing zero WAR.

    • sda

      Winning the trade? Looks like a lose-lose trade.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    I don’t think what the Yanks do with Pineda at this moment has anything to do with how they want the trade percieved. That went to shit for both teams long ago. The only question is which bag of shit would you prefer to be holding right now? I’m honestly not sure what the answer to that is.

    Monteroiswasdinero sheds a tear. Where is that guy, anyway?

    I see no rush to get him here. Continue to strengthen up. Fight for a spot in 2014.

    • Bo Knows

      He went insane over the Montero suspension, and is now in a white padded room in a straight jacket

  • dkidd

    my dream 2014 rotation:

    readjusted cc (a la 2008 mussina)
    re-signed hirok
    reformed nova
    rehabbed pineda
    rejuvenated phelps

    hughes = relocated
    joba = relegated
    andy = retired

    • I’m One

      ietc. And fully agree with it as well.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’d like to see an additional vet in there and have Pineda and Nova at 4/5. Hopefully a rehabilitated ManBan and MLB-ready Ramirez wait in the wings.

      • Winter

        Mayb ManBan will be… resurgent?

  • Conor in China

    I disagree with the assessment of the trade as well. At the time it seemed like a very good idea, especially getting Campos as well. Pineda had actually proved himself in the majors for a season while Montero was a great prospect. As for results, Montero has been awful and so has Noesi. I would rather have injured players than awful players, since I think their likelihood of being good again increases.

    As for bringing him up, I hope that his arbitration clock doesn’t influence their decision making if they think he’s ready. But just looking at his effectiveness and number of pitches, he doesn’t really seem near ready. If that’s the case, send him to Trenton and let him fight for a rotation spot next season.

  • forensic

    Didn’t like the trade when it happened and still don’t like it.

    But, I don’t think this is really going to be a big issue with them. This new soreness, or whatever they want to call it, may just give them an easy excuse to work past it, but I don’t think the reasoning will really be his arb clock. Hell, they were already into ‘innings management’ scenarios before this, and that has no affect on his arb clock.

    They’re just trying to limit everything on him. I can understand that, but I also worry that it’ll limit him too much on what he can do next season.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I’ll never forget where I was when the MLBTR push alert went off on my phone as to the trade, as well as the big “nooooooooo!!!” I let out.

      • vicki

        next time say ‘went off on my iphone’ for full douche effect.

  • CONservative governMENt

    Pineda was the only rookie in the history of baseball to have a k-rate higher than 9 with a walk rate lower than 3.

    • CashmanPaysBlackmail2Hookers

      And the Mariners NEVER would have traded him if they didn’t know he was injured. But they did. And so should anybody else who watched his last start in Seattle.

      • Bo Knows

        And the Yankees would never have dealt for him, if he didn’t come out with Medicals and even if they did, they wouldn’t have given up Montero. Mariners were dealing from a position of strength, to help them do something from an area of weakness that is beyond comical.

        And one start, after he had been initially shut down for two weeks for being close to his innings limit is suddenly reason to say a guy is hurt? That doesn’t make any sense at all

      • Winter

        Yeah, I’m sure the Yankees just phoned it in on the physical.

        Seriously, there is no way the trade would have gone through if there were any signs of injury.

  • tom


    That is what I think next years rotation should be and don’t forget Vidal Nuno who along with Phelps should battle for the 5th spot. That would be an overall young rotation at the back end with Kuroda and CC as your veteran leaders.

  • CashmanPaysBlackmail2Hookers

    “Instead our best trade chip in like a decade was used essentially on a one year pitcher. Of course the upside is there but the risk was unnecessary.”

    It’s actually much worse than that. Brian Cashman traded the Yankees best trade chip in a decade for DAMAGED GOODS!

    Why on earth ANYBODY buys into that “he was healthy when we traded for him” crap is beyond me. Consider these three facts:

    1) Pineda CLEARLY was not right from the word go, last spring.

    2) Pineda suffered a MAJOR dip in velocity over the span of ONE START (his FINAL start) with Seattle.

    3) Immediately (that offseason) after seeing that loss of velocity, the Mariners are suddenly ready to trade a guy they previously wouldn’t even take call on.

    • CashmanPaysBlackmail2Hookers

      When you look at the overall picture, you have to wonder just how many red flags needed to be hanging from Pineda’s right arm before Cashman noticed.

      Oh, and don’t give me any of that “he passed his MRI” nonsense.

      Including Joba’s shoulder in Texas, Phil Hughes “arm fatigue” last year and David Adams’ ankle (which Seattle recognized immediately, by the way), we are now up to no less than FOUR fairly recent MRI’s — three of them involving pitching shoulders — that were BADLY misinterpreted by the Yankees staff under Brian Cashman.

    • RAB Birtherism


    • sas

      And the Yankees traded back a fat DH with no work effort who can’t hit. Happy?

  • gageagainstthemachine

    At this point, I’d rather see Pineda activated right now, thrown right into the rotation, and kicking the ball to the batter’s box than see Phil Hughes taking the ball in his hand on the mound for another start. PERIOD.

  • Bubba

    The last chapter in the Montero-Pineda trade hasn’t been written. If you take the names away, I would bet most here would trade a potentially elite 1B/DH (with no history of MLB success) for a potentially elite front end starter (with some history of MLB success). Add in the fact that 1B/DH is blocked by players currently on your MLB team it sort of tilts the trade more in your favor.

    I’ll grant that the story isn’t too fabulous right now but that is true for both sides.

  • PinHeada

    He will Never be the same guy that made the all-star team. AND Montero is still a young man. The trade IS a disaster.

    • sas

      I’d rather have an injured player who is proven great he when is healthy than a healthy player who has proven he sucks. Montero is a DH who can’t hit.

      And this trade wasn’t a disaster. Mike is being a drama queen again.

  • Jim

    Has there been any update on this guys status?