DUNEDIN, Fla. — If Bryson Stott doesn’t make the opening-day roster — and he’s pushing hard to win a spot — the Phillies insist it won’t be because they are trying to maximize their contractual control over the top prospect.
Service-time manipulation, as it is commonly called, was a primary topic in the recent collective bargaining talks. In the past, some teams purposely held a top prospect in the minors until the second or third week of the season to delay his free-agent eligibility by a year. The most glaring example was the Cubs’ handling of Kris Bryant in 2015.
Under the new CBA, teams will be rewarded with additional picks in the amateur draft if they promote prospects in time to receive a full first year of service time and keep them on track to be a free agent after the sixth year.
But manager Joe Girardi said the Phillies intend to put the “best players” on the roster for the April 8 opener at home against the Athletics. In that case, Stott probably qualifies. The 24-year-old shortstop bashed a home run to right field and worked two walks in his first three plate appearances Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Just as notable, Stott played third base for the first time in a game this spring. The position remains unclaimed, with Girardi reiterating his comments from the other day that incumbent Alec Bohm is “not etched in stone.”
Stott may also play second base in a game, according to Girardi.
“I think he’s definitely forcing the hand right now,” Bryce Harper said. “We’ll see what they do. We all know he’s going to be [in the majors] at some point. If he has to spend a couple days in the minor leagues, I think that’s just how baseball is. It happened to a lot of us. But if we have the opportunity to have him, I don’t think anybody’s going to blink an eye about it.”
Girardi reiterated the main consideration for Stott’s place on the roster will be playing time, not service time.
“You’re not going to take a guy like a Stott and he’s not going to play a lot,” Girardi said. “That makes no sense.”