The "sweep ‘n get swept" of the past week suggests that not much is certain about the current season. But what is certain is that we want Zack Wheeler up as soon as possible and that we won't see him until he's avoided Super Two status.
So when is that already?
Wish I could tell you but it's a moving target. The following is from the mlb.com section on arbitration:
Q: When does a player become eligible for salary arbitration?
A: A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 22 percent (increased from 17 percent in previous agreements) in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.
If you're confused you're not alone. Let me take a stab at putting it into layman's terms. WARNING: I'm not a lawyer so there's no guarantee I'm reading this right . . .
Basically, without some sort of "cutoff" clubs could bring their best prospects up on the 2nd day of the season and be able get them at league minimum for 4 years instead of 3 as well as control them for seven years instead of six. To that the players union says "not so fast."
The concept of a "Super Two" cutoff was established so clubs who use a player for a substantial portion of their season have to pay a bigger price than if they just call him up for a September look see.
Now there's a lot of middle ground between those two instances and that's why Super Two is a moving target. How do you define what a "substantial" portion of the season is? MLB & the MLBPA decided that rather than stamp a date on the calendar, they'd give additional arbitration to the 22% of each "class" with the most service time after their 3rd year up.*
If 100 players are have between 2 and 3 years of service time after 2015, twenty-two of them will then be classified as Super Two and get arbitration for 2016 while the other seventy-eight won't qualify for arbitration until 2017.
So in order to know whether you're in the 22% or not you need to know how many guys will have between 2 and 3 years of service time at the end of the 2015 season and how much time each of them will have. We won't know that until the end of the 2015 season.
If the Mets bring up Matt den Dekker before Wheeler and he stays up through 2015 then it makes it tougher for Wheeler to make Super Two. Same thing if they keep Juan Lagares with the big club for the next 3 seasons. But if they send them down they could wind up with less service time than Wheeler even though they were called up earlier. The same goes for young players called up by other clubs.
That's what makes it a moving target - we won't know the "cutoff date" for sure until August/September of 2015.
So the Mets are basically looking at what's happened in the past, how many guys called up already have been sent down, who else may be called up, what's going on with guys other clubs called up late last season and again this season etc. and trying to make an educated guess.
Now this article suggests that there is something magical about July 6th but to my reading the author doesn't explain why and it doesn't seem to be referenced at the mlb site. Plus July 6th is much later than any of the other "likely" dates that have been bandied about so I'm going to make believe there's no chance we might have to wait that long.
Make sense? If not, well I tried.
NOTE: For all you eagle eyes, I do realize that there are other details I'm not addressing i.e. 86 days of service time in the year before, needing 172 of 183 days to accrue a year of service time but I figured those a) aren't going to affect Wheeler's calculation and b) would make this even more confusing than it needs to be.
* After 3rd year up really means the season in which they've accrued between 2 and 3 years of service time as long as they've logged 86 days in the preceding season. I wrote it in a simpler but less technically accurate way