With rookies Miguel Vargas and James Outman both in the Dodgers opening day lineup and provided a runway for regular roles this season, let’s look back at the “prospect promotion initiative” that was part of the MLB collective bargaining agreement signed in 2022.
The idea behind this was to discourage service time gaming, though how effective it is will take some time to assess. The main team incentive is awarding an extra draft pick if a player wins Rookie of the Year and meets certain criteria.
For a team to qualify for a draft pick, the player must be a rookie-eligible prospect who accrues one full year of service time (at least 172 days of the 186-day season) within that season. So the 41 days Vargas accrued in 2022 and the six days for Outman last year don’t lessen the need to accrue at least 172 days of service time in 2023.
The other requirement for the draft pick is that the Rookie of the Year must have appeared prior to the season on at least two top-100 prospect lists. Matt Eddy at Baseball America further clarified that Major League Baseball only uses the lists at Baseball America, ESPN, and MLB Pipeline.
Vargas qualifies here, ranking 30th at Baseball America, 37th at MLB Pipeline, and 80th at ESPN. Ryan Pepiot also qualifies, as he was ranked 55th by Baseball America and 70th by MLB Pipeline.
Outman’s only top-100 list was by Keith Law at The Athletic, rated No. 89, so if he wins Rookie of the Year, the Dodgers wouldn’t receive a draft pick.
But the Dodgers would gain a draft pick should Vargas or Pepiot win National League Rookie of the Year, assuming they remain up for nearly the entire season. Pepiot accrues service time while on the injured list, but can’t be optioned for more than 14 days once he comes off the IL.
Vargas and Pepiot are two of 14 major league rookies who qualify this year, with Eddy at Baseball America compiling the list. Other National League qualified rookies are D-backs outfielder Corbin Carroll, Cardinals outfielder Jordan Walker, and Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar.
Last year was the first year of the prospect promotion initiative, Mariners outfielder Julio Rodríguez won American League Rookie of the Year and was up all year long, netting Seattle a 2023 draft pick directly after the first round, No. 29 overall.
The other part of the initiative helps players. Anyone who finishes in the top two in Rookie of the Year voting will be awarded a full year of service time, regardless of when they were called up. This happened with Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, who was called up in late May and finished second to Rodríguez. Same for Braves outfielder Michael Harris, who was also called up in late May but then won NL Rookie of the Year.