Service Time (MLB)

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A player earns Major League service time for each day he spends on the active (25-man) roster or on the Major League 15-day or 60-day disabled lists. A player also continues to earn service time while serving any disciplinary suspension or serving in the military.[1]

Under the CBA, 1 year of service is defined as 172 days. A player may earn up to 172 days of Major League service during a championship season (regular season), which generally lasts 183 calendar days. If a player is sent to the minor leagues on optional assignment for a total of 20 days or less during a season, he receives service time for the entire season.[2]


Accruing service time

  • ML service time is credited for each day the player appears on an active roster or major league disabled list or suspended list.[3]
  • A player promoted from the minor leagues is credited with ML service beginning with the date he physically reports.[4]
  • Service time is not interrupted when a Major League player is traded and reports to his new club in the normal course (within 72 hours).[5]
  • A player demoted to the minor leagues is credited with ML service through the date of the assignment.[6]
  • In the case of a player who is unconditionally released, is credited through the date waivers were requested.[7]
  • A Major League player designated for release or assignment continues to be credited with service after the designation, through the date of the actual assignment or the date he is notified of his unconditional release.[8]
  • For a player who appears on the opening day roster, ML service time is credited as of the earliest scheduled opener, without regard to the actual opening date of his own club.[9]
  • ML service time is not credited during any period or periods of optional assignment totaling 20 days or more during a single season.[10]
  • A player is credited at the rate of 172 days per “year”, though the season is actually 182 days long.[11]

Service-time landmarks

3 years

  • A player with at least 3 years of Major League service is eligible for arbitration. (Eligibility for arbitration also is extended to players just shy of 3 full years of service. See Super Two.)[12]
  • In addition, a 3-year player may not be removed from the 40-man roster without his permission. The player may choose to be released immediately or at the end of the season.[13]

5 years

  • A player with at least 5 years of Major League service may not be demoted to the minor leagues on optional assignment without his consent. A 5-year player who refuses an optional assignment to the minors must be offered his release.[14]
  • A player with 5 years of service who has been traded in the middle of a multi-year contract may, during the off-season, require his new team to either trade him or let him become a free agent. If the player is eventually traded, he's not eligible to demand a trade again under the current contract and loses free agency rights for 3 years. However, the 2007-11 CBA eliminated this right for players signing multi-year contracts under the new CBA. Players signed to multi-year deals before the effective date of the 2007-11 CBA retain the right to demand a trade if traded during the life of their current contracts.[15]

6 years

  • A player with at least 6 years of service is eligible for free agency.[16]

10 years

  • A player with at least 10 years of service may not be traded or assigned without his consent, provided the player has spent the last 5 years with his current team.[17]
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