View Full Version : Years of service and arbitration/free agency

Red White
01-28-2007, 09:03 PM
Can anyone explain or provide a link to an explanation of how years of service is calculated for players' eligibility for arbitration and free agency? And how much do you think this plays into teams' thinking when they decide to bring top-notch prospects to the major leagues? Might there be some delay at times in order to maintain a player's rights during his more productive years?

01-28-2007, 09:20 PM
This will get you started...


Q: When does a player become eligible for salary arbitration?
A: A player with three or more years of service, but less than six years, may file for salary arbitration. In addition, a player can be classified as a "Super Two" and be eligible for arbitration with less than three years of service. A player with at least two but less than three years of Major League service shall be eligible for salary arbitration if he has accumulated at least 86 days of service during the immediately preceding season and he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of Players who have at least two but less than three years of Major League service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.

To answer your other questions:

I think it is near the top of the list of factors and how close to the top it is depends on the greatness of the need for the player, the pressure on the GM to win now and the likelihood that putting him in the lineup sooner, rather than later, helps the team win.

As a fan of a small-market team, I'd rather see the team go slowly in bringing prospects to the big club, especially when they're likely to be great players. The more of a player's best years that the small-market team gets, the better, because they'll have to open the wallet wide to keep him if he turns out to be great.

01-28-2007, 09:35 PM
The point that I see most often confused is that service time, for purposes of arbitration and free agency, is based on the number of days spent on the active roster. (I believe that 172 days is the baseline for a year of service time.) It is not a running clock from the first day spent on the active roster, although it works out the same if the player never goes back to the minors. Nor does a player get a year of service time just for being on the active roster at some point that season.

Let's say a player was called up on June 1, 2004 and spent 60 days on the active roster before being optioned back to the minors. He was on the active roster for 12 days in 2005 and 100 days in 2006, spending the rest of the time in the minor leagues. Following the 2006 season, he did not have three years of service time, even though he's been in the majors in three different seasons. He did not have two years of service time, even though his first callup was two-plus seasons ago. He has 172 days, and therefore exactly one year, of MLB service time.

Going back to the original point, unless you're the Yankees or Red Sox and money generally isn't an object when it comes to your roster, service time is a huge consideration. Players can only be controlled for so long, they can only be cheap for so long. It has to be managed intelligently.