As the season winds down for teams with no real chance of making the postseason, taking a look at players who could be part of their future success makes sense a lot of the time, but not all the time.
Is there a Triple-A player knocking down the door, all but demanding a big-league opportunity with his performance? Sure, bring him up. Did the team trade away a starter, and now they need someone to fill in, even if they're not quite ready? Hey, let's see what the kid can do. He can always go back to the minors next year to work on his development some more.
But is this always the right move? Not necessarily. Maybe a prospect really isn't ready to make the leap to the majors, and there is the risk of hurting his confidence by allowing him to fail on the game's biggest stage. Getting rushed and flopping can't feel good, and it's possible that performance has a lingering effect on his game.
Service time manipulation has been an issue for a long time, and while it's different under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, it might be better and worse at the same time. Perhaps a minor league player is showing he's ready for a late-season call-up, but the team doesn't want him to get on a jump on his service clock, with the plan being to keep him in the minors until mid-April next year when they'll lock in a seventh year of control.
And then there are Rookie of the Year considerations. A player who spends more than 45 days on the active roster, exceeds 130 at-bats (not plate appearances), or tops more than 50 innings pitched loses rookie eligibility. Teams now are incentivized to start their best prospects on Opening Day, since a top-100 prospect who spends a full-service year (172 of 182 days) on the major league roster and finish in the top three in ROY voting earns his team an extra draft pick after the first round.