What does this mean for Nate Pearson?
Let’s face it, Nate Pearson is going to be one of the most talked about Blue Jays over the next month. There are a lot of good reasons for that, as he’s currently rated #8 on the Baseball America Top 100 Prospects list, and has the type of arsenal that baseball fans dream about.
Earlier this year it looked like Pearson would be destined for a start in Triple-A Buffalo, with the assumption that he’d make his MLB debut at some point later in the year. Part of the rationale for holding him back would have been around service time, but he was also going to need to take a gradual approach to building up his innings limit as well.
Now that the season is going to be just 60 games, there is no physical reason to hold him back from the big league squad. If the team utilized a five-man rotation, he would make a maximum of 12 starts before the post-season. He’s probably looking a season of 60-70 innings under that format, which is easily manageable.
That said, I wouldn’t say that it’s a guarantee that Pearson will make the team to start this strange new season. That could depend on how the rules will impact his service time, and how good the Blue Jays are at finding a justifiable angle. Per the agreement made back in March, players will receive a full year of service time if they play the whole season. That could mean that the Blue Jays will have no choice but to surrender that extra year of contract control. Here’s how it worked according to the agreement from March:
"“If games are played, a player would receive service equal to days in the major leagues multiplied by 186 (days in the original season’s schedule), divided by the number of days in the revised schedule after excluding interruptions in play. A full service year remains 172 days. If no games are played, each player on the major league roster or injured list would receive major league service equaling what that player accrued in 2019. Players on the restricted list would not receive any service time.”"
That said, they do have a full five-man rotation with Hyun-Jin Ryu, Tanner Roark, Chase Anderson, Matt Shoemaker, and other options like Trent Thornton, Ryan Borucki, or even Shun Yamaguchi. The front office could make the argument that they don’t need Pearson to start the year, it’s just not a good one. Ideally you want to see your team put the best possible product on the field, and with all due respect to the rest of the pitchers on the 40-man roster, it’s hard to imagine how Pearson doesn’t fit the bill.
At this stage it remains unclear how the service time will work for players who do not start the season on the active roster, but the assumption is that initial agreement will remain in place, at least unless we hear otherwise.