SoSH Glossary: MLB Service Time

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SoSH Baseball Glossary

Baseball is filled with statistics, rules, and archaic terms that can often form what sounds like a foreign language. Sons of Sam Horn’s glossary provides a better understanding of these terms through straightforward definitions, clear explanations, and examples pulled straight from the baseball world. If there is anything you would like us to add to our glossary, please contact us.

MLB Service Time

Service time is calculated as the amount of time a player has spent on the 25-man roster of a MLB team. A player will earn a full year of service time if he is on the 25-man roster for 172 days of a regular season. Service time is normally expressed as “Years.Days”, so that a player with two years and 98 days is said to have 2.098 years of service time.

When Can A Player Accrue Service Time?

A player can only accrue time during the regular season, which can be no fewer than 178 days and no more than 183. The season starts on the day of the first scheduled game and ends on the day of the last scheduled game. In the event of a team opening the season during Spring Training (in an international opener, for instance), only players on the teams playing in that opener accrue service time. Players traded accrue service time (of up to 3 days) while traveling to their new team. A player accrues service time the day he is called up from the minor leagues, and does not accrue service time on the day he is sent down – unless his team has already played a game that day.

What Players Accrue Service Time?

  • Players on a 25-man roster
  • Players on a disabled list (7-, 15-, and 60-day DLs)
  • Players on the bereavement, paternity, and medical emergency lists
  • Players on the suspended list
  • Players on the military service list, up to two years
  • Players on the restricted list because of a positive performance-enhancing drug suspension

Players That Do Not Accrue Service Time:

  • Players on the disqualified list
  • Players on the ineligible list
  • Players on the voluntary retired list
  • Players on the restricted list who were not suspended for performance-enhancing drugs

Service Time Milestones:

  • When a player has three years of service time, he becomes eligible for salary arbitration and may not be removed from the 40-man roster without his permission. A player removed after this point may request his release from the club when notified, or at the end of the season.
  • At the five-year mark, a player cannot be sent down on an optional assignment without his approval. He must be released if he does not approve.
  • After six years of service time, a player is eligible for free agency.

Pete Hodges has written about the call up of a top prospect, an odd tradition, and Leo the Lip.

Follow Pete on Twitter @PeterWHodges.

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