A conspiracy theory of sorts has the White Sox intentionally leaving top prospect Dayan Viciedo at Class AAA Charlotte until some unnamed date this week to ensure he won’t eclipse a full year of service time.
That, in turn, would allow the Sox to delay Viciedo’s free agency by a year.
One source scoffed at the logic, considering Viciedo accumulated only 83 days of major-league service last season and couldn’t become a free agent until amassing the required six years.
That is a long, long ways off.
"There is no magic date next week," the source said Saturday. "I have seen some of the speculation out there, but a lot of it is based upon not having a full understanding of the rules."
But with a payroll over $125 million this season, it would be ludicrous to think the White Sox would decline to add a big bat like Viciedo for financial concerns in the distant future.
So, if it's not financial concerns, then why aren't they adding the big bat?
I'm reminded of Buster Posey last season. The Giants had a 2010 payroll that ended up pushing $100 million (this season it's almost $120 million). They're certainly not a poor franchise. Posey was tearing up AAA. And the Giants offense was bad. And yet here was the logical gymnastics coming from GM Brian Sabean on May 9, 2010, in a ridiculous attempt to suggest that his position that Posey "wasn't ready for the major leagues" had something to do with on-field concerns:
"Triple-A baseball isn’t very good," he said. "I’m going to tell you that right now. Especially from a pitching standpoint. Anybody who can pitch is in the big leagues. Most of the prospect arms, the stuff that really can neutralize hitters, are at Double-A. You look at what some of our (struggling hitting) prospects are doing there.
"So these guys (like Posey) are facing Four-A pitching, and you better have a lot of people see ‘em at different times and write their reports and almost have a straw poll of private ballots. Because I don’t know what it means anymore, in the PCL. It’s almost like years ago."
The comments from sister site McCovey Chronicles were priceless. Sabean essentially belittled his own pitching and hitting prospects to cover for why Posey wasn't called up yet. Oh yeah, as is par for the course with young catchers, allusions were also made to him not being ready to "handle a staff."
Nineteen days later, Posey was called up. He magically became ready for the major leagues and able to handle a big league staff immediately after it was assured he wouldn't accumulate enough service time to be a "Super Two", and thus eligible for arbitration after his second season. He went on to hit .305/.357/.505 and the Giants pitching staff was the best in baseball. Those additional nineteen days were critical, I'm sure.
Let's get back to Viciedo and the "source". The logic, despite this source "scoffing at it", works. If Viciedo were called up already (and he was never sent back down), he would accumulate enough service time to be a free agent an offseason sooner than he would if he were called up, say, next month. Indeed, this source agrees with that:
"A lot of misinformation," the source said. "He is not a free agent until he gets six years of major-league service like anyone else."
Well, thanks, source. We've known about Viciedo's contract for years, and that's exactly the point, anyway. The White Sox can delay that whole getting six years of major league service by not calling him up until about July 3. But we're told it's "ludicrous" that a team with a GM who complains annually about not being able to pay a dollar when he only has fifty cents would consider financial concerns in the distant future. Of course, just about every team in baseball - including a team with a similar financial situation as the White Sox - considers such things. They just don't come out and tell you.
Maybe we are a bunch of conspiracy theorists. But at least our logic provides a reason (and a sensible one, if not one fans would appreciate) for why a superior player with a "big bat" is in Charlotte while inferior players flail away in Chicago to make a below average offense. I guess we'll see in a week or so who is right.