The Royals Have Sent Down Bobby Witt Jr., Service Time Manipulation Is A Joke

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The Kansas City Royals have demoted top prospect Bobby Witt Jr., according to a report from Ken Rosenthal. Some in baseball expected this move since Witt Jr. hadn’t played above ‘A’ Ball, but those of us who use common sense still can’t figure out why that should matter.

It’s a complete travesty that fans of a dwindling sport can’t watch the sport’s best prospects because of service time manipulation. That’s all this was.

For those out of the loop, when a player gets called up after a given deadline during the season, then his “service time” with the team doesn’t start until the following year. That makes no logical sense.

Most in baseball know Bobby Witt Jr. is the most talented member of the Kansas City Royals, including the big leagues. So why isn’t he allowed to “develop” against big leaguers? He was batting .333 and blasted a 484-foot home run just last week. The Royals’ future star has been so dominant that CBS Sports wrote an article asking whether Bobby Witt Jr. would win spring training MVP if such an award existed.

How can a player who consistently performs at the plate against big league arms not make a major league roster? Well, I guess the answer is simple:

Service time manipulation

Remember in 2015 when the Chicago Cubs knew Kris Bryant was the best player in their organization but they sent him down before Opening Day anyway? That roster stunk, he was dominating the minor leagues, and he was leading the team during spring training. All the boxes were checked off–the same way they were before this morning’s demotion of Bobby Witt Jr.

It’s hard for young fans to get excited about young prospects when Major League Baseball allows team management to manipulate team control as a money grab.

We hope that Bobby Witt Jr. remembers how Kansas City played their cards and punishes them for it in the future. We saw Fernando Tatis Jr. reward the Padres for calling him up in a timely fashion by agreeing to a 14-year, $340 million extension. Witt should do the opposite.

Baseball feels more like an executives league than it ever did. If they want to grow this game–ditch the service time shenanigans. It’s boring.

Written by Gary Sheffield, Jr

Gary Sheffield Jr is the son of should-be MLB Hall of Famer, Gary Sheffield. He covers basketball and baseball for, chats with the Purple and Gold faithful on LakersNation, and shitposts on Twitter. You can follow him at GarySheffieldJr


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  1. Great story, Gary…thanks for writing about it.
    Doing this to get another year from the kid at the MINIMUM salary stinks like those old wool uniforms after a day time doubleheader!!!
    So they get to keep Witt on the minimum salary for 4 years (instead of three) if he’s not brought up for the first 16 days of the 2021 official baseball season. And we wonder why KC eventually loses almost all their really good players.
    Cheers, Gary!

  2. Yeah it’s probably one of the more dumb things about baseball when it comes to manipulating service time. But just like the NCAA and when the NFL had 1st round rookies making more than some proven good veterans there’s just some things in sports that are stupid.

  3. (1). This organization promoted Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Alex Gordon, Adalberto Mondesi, Kris Bubic and Brady Singer in ways that accelerated their free agency. Their track record shows that service time is not the controlling factor in their decisions.

    (2). Four of this six players ended up struggling enough that they were demoted back to the minors. Again, the track record shows this organization is motivated by the arc of a player’s development not service time manipulation.

    (3). Witt has fewer than 40 professional games, zero above rookie ball. Starting him in AA is entirely appropriate.

    Lots of teams deserve blame for blatant service time manipulation.

    Not this organization and not in this case.

  4. Not sure how these guys you mention translate to Bobby Witt Jr.’s situation. Except for Alex Gordon, those other guys never had the potential and never were mentioned as such. If Witt’s kept off the opening day roster for the first 16 days, and brought up a couple weeks later, then it will be obvious the reason — KC is a cheap outfit.
    ** Eric Hosmer was with KC for 6 seasons and never had more than 83 at-bats (ABs) in a season – no track record to speak of (including 20 ABs his first year 2011) with such a small sample size ABs
    ** Mike Moustakas was with KC for 9 seasons and never had more than 75 ABs in a season – with MILW and CIN the last 3 seasons never more than 46 ABs – no track record of success small sample size ABs
    ** Alex Gordon has played for KC for 14 years and has had a very good career and will be retiring after this season.
    ** Adalberto Mondesi is in his 8th season and has never had more than 54 ABs – no track record of success small sample size ABs
    ** Kris Bubic was in 2 games last season (his first in majors) had a 0-1 record with a 10.80 ERA – not sure why he’s in the mix here
    ** Brady Singer started 3 games last season (his first in majors) had a 2-0 record and 3.75 ERA – not sure why he’s in the mix here

  5. Sorry, Gary! The Royals don’t play that game. How many AB’s has BWJ had in professional ball? He will be here in June, on time and here to stay. And, do you remember last year???????? How did the Royals organization treat their entire team? You should apologize to the Royals for this hit piece.

    • This is exactly right. There will be plenty of examples of this sort of manipulation has teams break camp but this isn’t one of them. The Royals GM, Dayton Moore, is about as class act as it gets. He catches heat for keeping the core of the World Series team around too long.

  6. There are manipulations, but this ain’t it. Any prospect publication you can find has his eta at 2022. He was never going to make the opening day roster, no matter how good of a spring he’s had hitting flat fastballs off of bums.

    Also, the players agree to this in the cba. They’ll have their chance to fix it after this season. Of course minor leaguers aren’t involved in those talks, so I don’t expect it to change much.

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