One of the hot button issues floating around the comments section right now is the question of whether or not the Mets left Ike Davis in the minor leagues long enough to delay his service time, thus keeping him in the organization for an extra year. Just off the top of my head, I suspected that they had waited long enough, though the most easily accessible information on the subject of service time is unclear at best. So I decided to take a look at the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to get to the bottom of things. Here are the relevant passages:
A) Length of Season
During the term of this agreement, each club shall be scheduled to play 162 games. A championship season will not be scheduled over a period of less than 178 days or more than 183 days.
Article XXI--Credited Major League Service
Those Player rights expressly set forth in the Basic Agreement for which a Player's eligibility is dependent upon credited Major League service will be determined as follows:
(1) One full day of Major League service will be credited for each day a player is on the Major League Club's Active List. A total of 172 days of Major League credited service will constitute one full year of credited service. A player may not receive more than one year, 172 days, in one championship season. Major League service will be computed commencing with the date of the first regularly scheduled championship season game, through and including the date of the last regularly schedule championship season game. This rule shall apply uniformly to all Players and Clubs notwithstanding differences in a particular Club's schedule.
B. Optional Assignments
If a Player is optionally assigned for a total of less than 20 days in one championship season, the player will be credited with Major League service time over the period of such assignment.
The last part is relevant, in that it is where a lot of the confusion is derived from. Ike Davis was not on an optional assignment. He was not yet a member of the 40-man roster, he was simply a minor league player on a minor league deal on a minor league roster. As such, for his service time to be delayed, he simply needs less than 172 days of service in 2010, meaning there must be fewer than 172 days between the date of his call-up and the date of the last regular season game played in the Majors this year. Ike Davis's contract was purchased and his Major League service clock activated on April 19, 2010. The Major League regular season ends on October 3, 2010. The number of days spanned over that period: 168. Assuming he remains a part of the organization, Ike Davis will not be eligible for Free Agency until--at the absolute earliest--2017. If he remains in the Majors for the duration of his young career, he will still hit arbitration in 2013, but it will be as a Super-Two. The Mets would have had to wait considerably longer to deprive Davis of Super-Twodom. Considering their immediate needs, the extra year is worth considerably more than the extra pre-arbitration year.
Somewhat ironically, it's actually Chris Carter, and not Ike Davis to whom the last quote above applies. He is already on the 40-man roster, and in Triple-A on optional assignment. If he were called up today, he would receive service credit for all the days he's already spent in the minor leagues. Plus he already has 26 days of service time to his name from his brief appearances with Boston, meaning the Mets would need to leave him down for another 22 days if they want to delay his service time. Of course, this issue isn't nearly as meaningful for Carter--he doesn't have anything like Ike Davis's potential. The assumption has to be that his usefulness would be at worst short lived and at best of minor-but-meaningful significance. If we assume he's going to be anything more than that, his service time is actually of greater concern on this particular date than Ike Davis's.