Service Time And The 40-Man Roster

The beginning of each season typically brings up many debates regarding service time for top prospects, and this season has been no exception. The Twins and Red Sox were among the teams to ignore service time qualms and take top prospects north. Aaron Hicks and Jackie Bradley Jr. have both struggled tremendously at the Major League level, and both could eventually see themselves sent down to the minor leagues to sort out their issues at the plate.

Should that occur, Hicks and Bradley will both need to spend 20 or more days in the minor leagues in order to delay their free agency by a season. This may seem to contradict a post last week in which we noted that Wil Myers now has been in the minors long enough to delay his free agency by one season. There's a distinction, though.

Because Hicks and Bradley were on their team's 40-man roster to open the season, sending them to the minor leagues would qualify as an optional assignment. Per baseball's collective bargaining agreement, players on optional assignments need to accrue 20 or more days of service time in order to delay free agency by one season.

Myers is not currently on Tampa Bay's 40-man roster, meaning he need only spend 12 days in the Minor Leagues to finish the season with 171 days of service time. That would leave him one shy of 172 days — the mark that is officially used to determine "one year" of service in Major League Baseball's CBA. 

But what about players who were on the 40-man roster prior to the season and are called up after April 12? Oswaldo Arcia of the Twins, who made his Major League debut tonight, is one such case. Arcia opened the season at Triple-A Rochester but was already on the Twins' 40-man roster. As a result, his initial assignment to Triple-A was considered an optional assignment. Like Hicks, Bradley and other prospects who broke camp with their teams like the Padres' Jedd Gyorko, Arcia would require 20 days in the minor leagues for the Twins to get another year of service.

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