On Monday, we saw the addition of Blake Parker to the Cubs roster, putting them at 26. As you know as of September 1st, teams are allowed to recall their full 40 man roster if they would like, but no one does. Why? Let’s talk about that.
Let me begin by saying that I think the expanded roster rule is stupid and should be done away with. Now that my feelings on that are out of the way, why don’t teams call up their full allotment of players? There are a few reasons why.
1. Injuries – If you look at the current Cubs 40 man roster, you’ll see that Edwin Jackson is on the DL (thank God), as is Justin Ruggiano and Ryan Sweeney. Because they were placed on the 15 day DL, they still have a spot on the 40 man roster, which means the Cubs would not be able to field a full 40 guys just yet. Any player with a big league contract must be on the 40 man roster unless he was designated for assignment and cleared irrevocable waivers for the purpose of being removed. At that point, he can be moved to the minors, assuming he doesn’t refuse the assignment.
2. Service Time – We hear this one a lot, especially when it comes to early season call ups. In fact, we’ll probably see it come into play at the beginning of the season in 2015 with Kris Bryant. The way the current salary structure works, players are under a team’s control for the first six years of their Major League career, with a service year considered to be 172 days. When a player is recalled, it starts that clock and given that teams are so concerned about paying out big deals before they have to, there are a lot of games that are played. To get a player up in September just for the sake of a few at bats is a waste of service time.
3. Playing Time – With that many guys on the roster, it’s near impossible to give everyone enough playing time, which is related to service time. If you’re going to call a guy up and have the meter running for service time, you want to be able to play him, especially if he’s part of your future. When you call up someone like Javier Baez or Jorge Soler, you want to make sure you have the ability to get them the playing time they need. The same goes for the middle of the season. If you call someone up to play, someone has to sit. You want to make sure guys have at bats or innings available to them or you’re just wasting time.
4. Per Diem Costs - This is a reason that often goes over looked. In baseball, players receive a per diem stipend in addition to their usual salary. This is designed for meals and things like that when the team is on the road. When you call a guy up, he gets that money. It may not seem like a big deal, but it’s an added costs for a team in addition to the travel expenses that are pointless for a guy to get 5-10 plate appearances. They can simply cut that cost and use one of the other reasons as the explanation.