Generally-speaking, players with at least three years of service time, but fewer than the six years of service time necessary for free agency, are eligible for arbitration. It’s a method by which they get more money for their service in the following season, as determined by an arbitrator, if necessary (selecting between a number proposed by the player and a number proposed by the team). Generally-speaking, such players therefore get three arbitration years.
I say “generally-speaking,” though – twice! – because some players get a fourth arbitration year. There’s a caveat to the eligibility rules that allows some players to qualify for arbitration even if they don’t yet have three years of service time. These are the “Super Two” players, who have less than three years service time, but more than two years service time, and are in the top 22% of players in that category, in terms of service time.
Kris Bryant was a Super Two guy, Addison Russell was a Super Two guy … essentially, if you’re called up kinda early in the year – but after the cutoff for gaining an extra year of service time – you’re probably going to be a Super Two. It’s not quite early free agency, but at least it’s something.
This year, the Cubs have one new Super Two player, and it’s reliever Carl Edwards, Jr., who actually made the cutoff date on the dot (two years, 134 days – per MLBTR). Had Edwards netted one fewer day of service over his time with the Cubs, he’d be a renewal player, likely upwards of $750,000 less in 2019 than he will wind up making. Good day for him!
Edwards is projected to earn $1.4 million in 2019, which is a nice payday for anyone, though not necessarily a substantial sum given what he has flashed at times. His struggles in 2018, unfortunately, have left him with an uncertain future. It’s not so uncertain that he’ll be non-tendered or anything like that, but his role in the Cubs’ bullpen in 2019 is definitely up in the air, and his security in that gig is not going to be unflappable.
Edwards, 27, posted good end-of-the-year numbers – 2.60 ERA, 2.93 FIP, 30.2% K rate, 14.4% BB rate, 52.0 IP – but anyone paying attention knows that something went very, very wrong late in the year: despite a 2.63 ERA after August 15, he sported a terrifying 16.7% K rate and 24.2% BB rate combo.
When Edwards is right, his cutting fastball is impossible to square up thanks to its velocity, movement, and spin rate. He pairs it with a killer curveball, netting him tons of whiffs, together with weak contact. When he’s not right, he has no clue where the fastball is going, which not only leads to walks, but it also lets hitters sit back on the curveball and wreck it. Edwards ended the season on the shelf with a forearm issue, and you almost hope he just needed some time to rest his arm this offseason to really get things right.