On June 3, 2011, the Texas Rangers activated Julio Borbon from the disabled list and assigned him to AAA, where he had been playing on a rehab assignment. A number of aspects of this decision have been covered by the different media and internet outlets covering the Rangers.
Jamey Newberg of www.newbergreport.com seems to be in favor of opting for Chavez over Borbon for a host of reasons he explains here. Adam J. Morris disagrees or at least minimizes some of the reasons in this piece.
Both Newberg and Morris do a very good job addressing most of the pros and cons of this decision. Morris has specifically questioned the timing of the decision, which has not been truly explained by any of the arguments for the move or Jon Daniels comments about the move.
The one advantage to optioning Borbon to AAA instead of simply allowing him to play there for the two additional weeks on rehab assignment is that he will not accumulate additional service time.
By my calculation, Borbon had accumulated 1 year and 132 days of service time when he was optioned (which is less than the service time reported by some other media outlets). In 2009, Borbon was called up for the first time on June 29, 2009 and sent back down on July 7, 2009. He was recalled again on August 7, 2009 and stayed with the Rangers the remainder of the year. Those two stints with the Rangers accumulated 9 and 59 days of service time, respectively. When added to his full year of service time from 2010 and the 64 days of service time from 2011, the result is 1 year and 132 days of service time.
In the entirely possible world that Borbon, for any of a host of reasons, is not recalled during 2011, but plays the entire 2012 season with the Rangers, he would have 2 years and 132 days of service time. Why does that matter? Because it puts Borbon right on the cusp of arbitration eligibility at the end of the 2012 season. A player with that same amount of service time would have been eligible for arbitration in 2007 and 2010, but not in 2008 or 2009. Borbon's salary through arbitration would easily increase by a few hundred thousand dollars and could increase by a million or more compared to what he would otherwise receive.
The additional service time gained on the remainder of Borbon's rehabilitation assignment would be more than enough to eliminate the Rangers chances to avoid arbitration with Borbon in 2012.
While the both sides of the Borbon vs. Chavez debate have valid arguments, the service time element explains the timing of the Rangers decision far better than any of the other factors.