The MLB Super Two threshold has been determined and 11 players have received the designation, including SF Giants outfielder Austin Slater.
SF Giants outfielder Austin Slater will qualify for arbitration a year early after receiving a Super Two designation, according to a report by Jon Heyman of MLB Network. Normally, players must accrue at least three years of MLB service time to enter their first year of arbitration. Assuming they are tendered by their teams, they will enter arbitration for three years before becoming free agents. However, Super Two status is given to the players with between two and three years of service time that rank among the top 22% of that group in service. If selected they will be eligible to enter arbitration a year early and get four bites at the arbitration apple before free agency.
Slater easily had the best season of his career in 2020. In 104 plate appearances, he slashed a .282/.408/.506 line (152 OPS+) with five home runs and seven RBI. He posted an elite 15.4 percent walk rate against a solid 21.2 percent strikeout rate. He also emerged as a surprising base-stealing threat as well. Before this season, he had never amassed double-digit steals in a year. However, he was far more aggressive in the shortened season, swiping eight bases in nine tries.
Even with his successful 2020 season though, it’s hard to know what the Giants can rely on going forward. He dealt with a severe elbow injury nearly all season that forced him to be limited to designated hitting. While he has been a solid defensive outfielder in both corners, injuries have piled up for 27-year old and remain a cause for concern going forward.
Over his career, Slater had shown flashes of being a solid MLB contributor, but never to the levels he produced in 2020. While he had always hit the ball hard, previously, he had struggled to hit the ball in the air. If he can maintain his swing adjustments to consistently lift the ball though, he could be an above-average everyday player.
Slater has already signed a one-year, $1.15 million deal for next season, so Heyman’s report confirms what team behavior had already suggested. However, going forward, his Super Two status could have some major implications. Arbitration payouts are heavily based on previous salaries. By entering arbitration a year early, he sets himself up for larger raises over each of the next three years. Of course, it also makes him more expensive and potentially more at risk of being non-tendered if he struggles to replicate his 2020 success.