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Wander Franco’s extension and baseball’s service time issues

Wander Franco is going to be a Ray for a very long time

MLB: ALDS-Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays Mike Watters-USA TODAY Sports

The Wander Franco extension has been the talk of baseball during this week and why wouldn’t it be. While he was only at the beginning of his Major League journey, some were already projecting at what point would the Tampa Bay Rays start to consider moving him.

A lot of that was just way over the top tomfoolery if you will, nevertheless we’ve learned to expect the unexpected from an aggressive Rays front office. They’ll move you a year earlier rather than one too late. The best way to put it is that because of his immense potential and consequently equally big earning potential, few expected to see Wander Franco as a career Ray.

That remains an unlikely possibility just think about Evan Longoria for instance, but the point is that we’ll probably see Franco in a Rays uniform for a very long period. There’s something pure and enjoyable about that. Call me a traditionalist, but I like the idea of players staying with the team that they came up with, for a long period.

Don’t get me wrong I’m all for player mobility and that’s part of what I wanna discuss as a problem with Major League Baseball a little further, but there’s a certain charm to a career with one team and the connection that stars like Buster Posey, Joe Mauer, Adam Wainwright, and so many others develop with their fan bases is truly priceless.

The problem lies when a player is more or less forced to commit to that organization in order to receive any sort of financial security for the future. With the current structure, it takes longer for your average major league baseball player to reach free agency than the basketball and football player. That in itself means something, paired with it the fact that baseball players make less from the get-go in the early years and you get an unfair system.

Whatever has happened in the history of the sport, this is where we are at right now and to make any sort of drastic change it’s next to impossible for reasons we all know too well, but the main point for the players is that service time needs to shift one of two ways, even if just slightly.

  1. It no longer takes seven years to reach the open market because the whole six years of service for a trip to the open market “narrative” is a fallacy. Most players don’t start as rookies on the Opening Day roster to get that chance despite the fact that they’re ready or not, case in point Kris Bryant.
  2. It doesn’t take two to three years for a player to start to make any sort of salary that reflects his contribution to the team and not have a process so slow and gradual to the point where that statement can only truly be said in year five.

It’s complicated to achieve, but at the same time as simple as that.

There was also a debate sparked involving a small portion that felt the need to point out that as far unfair as the system may be, a player like Wander Franco shouldn’t be the main focus of the campaign that owners are greedy. The focus should be on the minor leaguers and the bare minimum of resources that are currently allocated to them.

While that point is somewhat true and even if the upper echelon of baseball players is screwed out of money by taking financial security, they’re also in a different reality financially than the initial fan - We shouldn’t use this window of spotlight towards this discussion to argue about what’s more unfair, but instead, pull together and point out that the very same people are responsible for both things.

Owners should provide significantly better conditions to minor leaguers and also a system where the superstar player doesn’t need to leave that much money on the table in order to get financial security because his income in the first years of his career won’t in any way reflect his impact and importance to the team.