Players Who Sign Extensions Prior To MLB Debut Are Not PPI Eligible

MLB Trade Rumors

A player who signs a contract extension prior to making his major league debut is not eligible for the prospect promotion incentive, reports JJ Cooper of Baseball America. He specifically mentions Jackson Chourio of the Brewers and Colt Keith of the Tigers, who both signed extensions with their respective clubs this offseason, as players who are not PPI eligible.

The latest collective bargaining agreement introduced the PPI to encourage clubs to carry top prospects on Opening Day rosters, rather than hold them down in the minors to gain an extra year of control, a move generally referred to as service time manipulation.

A major league season is 187 days long and a player needs 172 days in the big leagues to earn one year. By holding a player down in the minors for a few weeks, a club can prevent that player from getting to the one-year mark. Since a player needs a full six years of service to qualify for free agency, the club can gain an extra year of control over a young player by doing this. Some of the oft-cited examples of this practice are Kris Bryant of the Cubs and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays, both of whom were top prospects who were called up a few weeks into their respective rookie seasons, thus coming up just short of one year of service.

In an attempt to curb this behavior, the CBA introduced the PPI system, whereby teams could earn an extra draft pick by promoting certain players early in the season. To qualify, a player had to be on at least two out of the three top 100 lists at Baseball America, ESPN and MLB Pipeline, as well as being rookie eligible and have fewer than 60 days of service time. If such a player was called up early enough in the season to accrue 172 days of service the traditional way*, they would be PPI eligible and could net their club an extra pick just after the first round. To earn a pick, a PPI eligible player has to either win a Rookie of the Year award or finish in the top three of voting for Most Valuable Player or Cy Young prior to qualifying for arbitration.

(*There was another new measure in the CBA to disincentive service time manipulation, whereby a player could earn a full year of service even if called up too late. If they were otherwise PPI eligible and finished in the top two of Rookie of the Year voting, they could be bumped up to a full year, but they would not earn their clubs an extra pick. This situation arose with Adley Rutschman of the Orioles in 2022, who finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting despite missing the first few weeks of the season. He earned a full year of service but the O’s would not have received a bonus pick for that if he had finished first.)

This new detail provides an extra wrinkle, as Chourio and Keith would have been in play for PPI picks. Both of them are top prospects who signed offseason extensions and then cracked Opening Day rosters. However, this new development means they won’t be in play for those bonus picks after all.

On the flip side, Cooper adds that Michael Busch of the Cubs and Joey Ortiz of the Brewers are PPI eligible. When Matt Eddy of Baseball America outlined the PPI rules back in February, he noted that players who debut in the majors and are then traded do not have PPI status with their new club. Busch debuted with the Dodgers last year and was traded to the Cubs this winter while Ortiz debuted with the Orioles before being flipped to the Brewers. Eddy provided a further update today, stating that they are PPI eligible since they were not moved via midseason trades.

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