Major League Baseball has some pretty complicated rules. And with all of the loopholes, I imagine there is just a sea of nerds in cubicles crunching numbers and adding post-its to large stacks of files. I tend to imagine things in pre-computer 1960’s filing methods. Angels uber-prospect, Mike Trout, accumulated 123 at bats and somewhere under 45 days of actual MLB service time. Once a player goes over 130 at bats or 45 days of service time, that player loses his rookie status. So, Trout should still be considered a rookie (and a prospect) for the 2012 season, right? Not so fast, hot shot.
The OC Register’s Sam Miller (follow him @SamMillerOCR, trust me) did all of the heavy lifting and you can read the full details there. But this is the gist of it after Trout was called up and optioned for the first time…
Since Trout wasn’t on the 40-man roster before he was called up, he hadn’t previously been optioned, so his time in Double-A before that didn’t count. He was then called back up after only 17 days, and spent the rest of the year with the Angels, so his option didn’t technically happen. “The service time has to go somewhere,” says the Angels’ Tim Mead, which means it counts as major league service time.
Since Trout wasn’t optioned for 20 days, he was credited with 55 days of service time, killing his rookie status. Does this matter in the grand scheme of things? Not really. Trout might miss out on some trophy hardware and another year of hype on prospect lists but I think the secret is already out. He’s really good. Maybe it would be a bigger deal to a team like Tampa Bay, if Trout becomes eligible for arbitration/free agency a year sooner because of this.
All of this might be moot anyway because Sam Miller updated his post explaining MLB has yet to officially rule on Trout’s status. What was the point of this post then, you ask? Hey, look at that dog wearing a hat! *ducks out the back door*