Changes to team control could change how the Detroit Tigers use their top prospects
Frankly, the rules around service time manipulation need to change. It’s bad for the player and it’s bad for the product, and it’s likely something that will be addressed as part of the upcoming negotiations.
The Detroit Tigers, of course, have two of the top 10 prospects in all of baseball in Spencer Torkelson and Riley Greene; both of whom are on the cusp of the major leagues. The club could theoretically keep both down for a short time before calling both up, which would give the team an extra year of control.
If that rule is changed, however, and there is no longer an incentive to keep the organization’s best players on the farm, it is fair to wonder if the Detroit Tigers could choose to be more aggressive with their assignments out of spring training.
It is also likely that team control, in general, might change from the current six-year control structure in which a player would earn league minimum their first three years and settle in arbitration the next three years if an agreement cannot be made to avoid it. I’d love to see the control go from six years down to four, which would allow players to hit free agency at a younger age and perhaps increase the likelihood of them landing two big contracts rather than one; especially as the game shifts to a younger player base.
Owners would likely try to fight the same or a similar rule as longer team control is much more cost-effective. Additionally, there is the potential for unintended consequences. First, it is fair to wonder if shortening team control would hinder smaller market teams from maintaining a sustainable competitive product. Additionally, a shortened team control window would effectively devalue prospects as capital; thus altering the trade market in a way that may discourage trade activity.
So, then, Tork and Greene may not only be affected on the front-end with regards to their possible debut, but a new CBA may also affect their team control, their value in any trade after they debut, and ultimately their free agency window.