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Yes, The SF Giants Manipulated Joey Bart’s Service Time

Joey Bart SF Giants (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Joey Bart SF Giants (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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Joey Bart, SF Giants
SF Giants prospect Joey Bart. (Photo by Jamie Schwaberow/Getty Images)

While SF Giants fans are right to celebrate Joey Bart’s callup to the major leagues, the organization engaged in one of the dirty parts of baseball’s business.

To the excitement of SF Giants fans everywhere, the team finally promoted catcher Joey Bart on Thursday. While fans and reporters were rightfully celebrating his newfound arrival, it made one reality abundantly clear, the team manipulated his service-time clock.

Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic articulated the nuances of service-time rules. The short answer, by waiting to promote Bart to the big-league roster, the Giants guaranteed another year of team control.

I’ll be the first to admit that I was a proponent of holding Bart out this season. I agreed with the public talking points from prominent Giants officials when they claimed he needed more minor league at-bats.

As prospects go, Bart just hasn’t had a lot of minor-league experience. Bart has made just 608 plate appearances in the minor leagues (and that’s counting 42 plate appearances in the Arizona Fall League) before his debut. When he has been on the field, he hasn’t consistently dominated.

There’s no doubt that a pair of injuries have contributed to that. When Bart has been healthy for extended periods of time, he’s handled his competition well. Fans saw that firsthand last season in his late-season promotion to Richmond and his strong showing at the AFL.

But there’s no denying it now. The Giants didn’t actually believe what they were saying. I was wrong.

SF Giants Catcher Joey Bart Shows Improvement

Yes, director of player development Kyle Haines discussed a pair of improvements Bart has made over the past month. I have no doubt that he did. But, it’s almost impossible to believe Bart could’ve improved so much to bridge that gap.

If the Giants were truly concerned about getting him more at-bats, a month of work at the summer camp isn’t enough time to change that. By promoting him, Giants brass telegraphed to their fanbase that they’ve believed Bart was big-league ready for some time.

This isn’t a knee-jerk decision. This isn’t because fan morale was low (even though my father remains insistent it is a part of some broader Kapler conspiracy). Decisions like promoting a top prospect aren’t made in the spur of the moment but follow preset outlines.

Projecting salaries for the years ahead is probably impossible at this point. The impending collective bargaining negotiations between the league and the MLBPA will very likely change what free-agency contracts look like going forward. The continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy adds an even larger degree of complication.

Regardless of the magnitude of financial impact, the Giants organization manipulated Bart’s service-time clock. There is something wrong with that. Fans may be quick to retort that the team is just taking advantage of the rules for their own benefit. However, even that ignores the clear bad faith inherent in the decision.

Just because the Giants can get away with it, doesn’t mean they should have done it. Just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean it’s alright.

Related Story. Joey Bart's Scouting Report

This isn’t an attempt to ruin Bart for fans. During an already difficult time, the Giants have been a source of plenty of frustration this season. Bart is a symbol of hope for a franchise amidst a transition. By calling him up now, the team admits he was ready. I just hope next time, the Giants do what’s right by their player.

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