This article is part of our Farm Futures series.
Getting an Extra Year of Control
According to the current CBA, players are entitled to free agency after six or more years of major-league service time. A year of service time is defined as 172 days on a major-league roster. This year's MLB regular season stretches 194 days. As long as a player is called up with fewer than 172 days remaining in the season, they will be under their current team's control for seven years, instead of six. With most players, this is far more important than saving $10 or even $20 million by dodging Super Two status. Good players are eventually going to get paid if they stay good, but having that extra year of control puts a team in a better bargaining position when they start to talk about a contract extension with young players, and it also gives the team an extra year right in the middle of that player's prime.
None of this should be celebrated – teams never get into trouble for this, but it is technically against MLB rules to keep a player in the minors specifically for service-time reasons, and more importantly, I believe it is an unethical practice. However, it is part of my job to try to predict when players will be up, and April 12 is this year's date when teams can start calling up top prospects (with one notable exception) and retain that extra year of control. This is the first year I can recall since I've been