In fact, Alderson suggested the primary motivation may have little to do with Tejada, since he is eligible for arbitration either way. The GM noted that if Tejada moves from becoming a Super 2 to three full years of service time, at least one additional player will become eligible for arbitration as a Super 2 that would otherwise have missed the cutoff.
New York Mets
The top 22 percent of players between two and three years of service time qualify for arbitration.
The Mets delayed Tejada's call-up even after Triple-A Las Vegas' season ended. That way, he finished with two years, 171 days of service time. That was one day shy of qualifying for three full years of service. As a result, Tejada is still arbitration-eligible, but is not eligible for free agency until after the 2017 season instead of after 2016.
Mariners left-hander Charlie Furbush, for instance, missed the current Super 2 cutoff (two years, 122 days) by one day and presumably would directly benefit from a Tejada bump to three years of service. Red Sox left-hander Felix Doubront missed the cutoff by two days. Cardinals 15-game winner Lance Lynn missed by three days.
"The possibility of a grievance, I think, actually has less to do with Ruben than it does to do with other players, because of the unique Super 2/three-year situation," Alderson said. "So that if Ruben becomes a three-plus player, someone else is going to qualify for Super 2 status. So there is a lot of stuff going on that goes way beyond Ruben's particular situation.
"But, from our standpoint, we feel that we have the right to bring up a player or not bring up a player. We have a right to determine when he comes up. So we exercise that discretion across the board with respect to eight or nine players or however many we brought up."
The bottom line: Teams all the time delay call-ups for monetary reasons. Heck, Zack Wheeler did not make his major league debut this past season until it was clear his arbitration-eligibility would be delayed by a year.
Is there anything in the collective bargaining agreement that would prevent that even if the motivation were firmly established?
"It's not the subject of a grievance [yet], so I can't hide behind the fact this is currently being disputed," Alderson said. "But I think our position is we have very wide discretion in how we call up players in September."