Fair or Not, Mariners Should Delay Logan Gilbert’s Arrival to Big Leagues

Fans of any team, including the Seattle Mariners fans, know about service time manipulation. In today's day and age, it is laughably transparent and often immediately criticized when a team sends an obviously ready prospect back to the minor leagues for 3 weeks in April to secure an extra year of service time. And most of the time, the criticism is well deserved. But in 2020, it would actually be foolish for the Mariners to not engage in this practice.

Truth be told, we know Logan Gilbert, our #2 ranked pitching prospect in the Mariners farm system, was ready to compete against big league hitters by August of last year. But the workload management theory lead the team to shut Gilbert down in September, a move that is understandable. Gilbert was slated to head back to AA or AAA to start the 2020 season and if we were living in a COVID free world, we would likely have already watched a handful of starts from Gilbert in Seattle.

So far as we know, nothing has changed about Gilbert’s stuff or MLB readiness. He looked good in spring training and turned heads along the way. In reality, Gilbert is one of the 5 best starting pitchers in the Mariners organization at any level. So we have an MLB ready, top prospect who features prominently in the teams future plans, with a clear opening in the rotation. In addition, the team has already announced that they’ll use a 6 man rotation a bulk of this season. Gilbert has to be one of those 6, right?

Let’s put it this way: is Gilbert one of the 6 best starters on the 60 man roster? Absolutely. He might be #2 right now behind just Marco Gonzales. But should Seattle place him on the Opening Day 30-man roster? They’d be a bit stupid to do so. Allow me to explain.

In a 60 game season, Gilbert is likely to log a maximum of 10 appearances. Yet, if he makes the Opening Day roster, he would still accrue an entire year of service time per the MLBPA and MLB agreement on service time made in March. This means that the Mariners would essentially waste an entire year of Logan Gilbert’s club control for 30% of the starts he would normally make. Losing 15-20 starts of Gilbert over the course of 6 years may not seem like much now, but with the team absolutely not in contention for a playoff spot, losing Gilbert in free agency after the 2025 season instead of the ’26 season is flat out stupid.

Especially when this entire thing can be avoided by waiting just 3 weeks, or roughly 20 games, to call up Gilbert. Again, we can acknowledge that is a bit unfair to Gilbert, but like it or not, the Mariners need to do what benefits their franchise in the long run.

Delaying his service time clock may cost us, the fans, from seeing Gilbert 3-5 more times than we would in 2020. But not doing it could cause the organization to lose out on 30+ starts in 2025, a year Seattle should absolutely be a serious contender in the AL West.

It really stinks for players that these games get played with their careers. But from a franchise perspective, it is irresponsible, especially for a non-contender in a shortened season, to not take these actions.

Be sure to follow us on Twitter @controlthezone and let us know: should the Mariners start Logan Gilbert in the Major Leagues?

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