MLBTR Glossary Rumors

Transactions Calendar

Here are some of the most important dates for baseball transactions:

  • January – Players file for arbitration and exchange figures with teams. This process took place from January 5th-20th this year.
  • February – Salary arbitration hearings take place.
  • March – Clubs can renew the contracts of unsigned players who aren't yet eligible for arbitration.
  • June – The first year player draft takes place in early June (it was June 9th this year).
  • June 16th – Before June 16th, teams can't deal newly-signed free agents without their permission.
  • July 2nd – The International Signing Period begins.
  • July 31st – Teams have to put players on waivers to deal them after July 31st, which is why we typically see a flurry of trades before the July 31st deadline.
  • August 15th – The deadline by which teams have to sign their first round draft picks or lose the rights to their selections. Some players, like Aaron Crow, are exceptions to the rule. Some years are exceptions, too; the 2009 deadline fell on August 17th because August 15th was a Saturday.
  • August 31st – For a player to be eligible for his team's postseason roster, he has to be in the team's organization at the end of August. As a result, August 31st is the last day for teams to acquire players through waiver trades if they want to have them for the postseason.
  • September 1st – Rosters expand from 25 to 40.
  • October – For 15 days after the World Series ends, teams have exclusive rights to their own free agents. Players can talk with other teams, but only in general terms.
  • November – The GM Meetings take place. This year, the GMs will meet from November 9th-11th in Chicago.
  • December – Clubs have to offer arbitration to ranked free agents in early December to be eligible for compensation picks if they sign elsewhere. Players have to decide whether to accept their team's offer within a week.
  • December – Clubs set their 40-man rosters and take part in the Rule 5 Draft
  • December – The Winter Meetings take place in December and major trades and signings usually go down. This year, the meetings take place in Indianapolis from December 7th-10th.
  • December – Teams must offer contracts to unsigned players by mid-December (this year, it's December 12th).

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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Major League Contracts

Here's an explanation of Major League contracts:

  • Teams can spread a player's signing bonus over a number of years if they sign him to a Major League deal.
  • Players like Jacob Turner, Dustin Ackley and Stephen Strasburg, who sign Major League deals, must be placed on their teams' 40-man rosters immediately, even if they start their careers in the minors. This reduces flexibility for the player's team.
  • Teams have to use options to assign players on Major League deals to the minors. While most of these players can get a fourth option, clubs risk running out of options. If a player runs out of options, he must clear waivers before his team can send him to the minors.
  • Most draft picks will sign minor league contracts that cover a bonus and the first year of their minor league career.

All of the information on Major League deals comes from Keith Law's 2008 ESPN article.

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Two-Sport Athletes

When you hear someone call Donavan Tate a two-sport athlete, it means more than you might think. Clubs can distribute bonuses differently to those designated as two-sport athletes. Here are the details:
  • The commissioner's office defines which players are two-sport athletes.
  • Single sport athletes receive their bonuses within a year (unless they sign major league contracts).
  • Teams can spread bonuses for two-sport athletes over as many as five years.
  • This means the team commits less in terms of present value and gets some financial flexibility. 

Thanks to Jim Callis of Baseball America.

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Option Years

Teams use options to shuttle players on their 40-man roster to and from the minor leagues risk-free. Here are a few specifics to round out this MLBTR Glossary entry:

  • Once a player is on his team's 40-man roster, his club has three separate seasons over the course of which it can promote and demote the player without exposing him to other teams.
  • Minor leaguers on the 40-man roster are on an optional assignment.
  • They can be promoted and demoted an unlimited number of times within an option year. 
  • Once a player's three option years are up, he must clear waivers before going to the minors.  
  • Options aren't used on players who spend less than 20 days in the minors.  
  • Players with five years of service time can't be optioned to the minors without consent.  

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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The Disqualified List

Another term for the MLBTR Glossary

Players who violate the terms of their contract can be placed on the disqualified list, which prevents them from collecting service time and money. For example, the Nationals threatened to put Alfonso Soriano on the disqualified list when he refused to play the outfield in 2006, as this AP story shows.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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Today's MLBTR Glossary entry:

Arbitration exists to help teams and players settle on contracts. The two sides usually come to an agreement without having to go to an arbitration hearing, but if they can't, each side submits a figure and a panel of three arbitrators chooses one of them. 

When a player has between three and six years service time or qualifies as a Super Two, he's arbitration eligible, but isn't yet free to negotiate with other teams. Here's how arbitration works:

  • Generally speaking, players almost never receive pay cuts through arbitration, and usually receive raises.
  • Teams must offer contracts to players under team control by the non-tender deadline (typically in December) or see them become free agents.
  • Players file for arbitration in January, with figures due to be exchanged a few days later.  Some teams, nicknamed "File and Trial" clubs, choose to automatically go to a hearing if they reach the figure exchange date without an agreement.
  • Teams and players can continue to negotiate up until the scheduled hearing.
  • Only a handful of hearings occur each year, in February.  Each side has one hour for initial presentation, and then a half-hour for rebuttal and summation.  At the end, the three-person arbitration panel chooses one side's salary figure. 

 Tim Dierkes contributed to this post.  Updated 11-11-13.

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Designated For Assignment

When teams want to clear roster space without immediately parting ways with the player they're removing from their roster, they can designate him for assignment. The move always clears a 40-man roster spot and when a player gets designated off of the active roster, a 25-man roster space opens up as well. The team then has ten days to assign the player to the minor leagues, trade him, or release him.

Players who have the right to refuse a minor league assignment benefit from the ten-day window, and it buys time for the team as well. For a team to assign a player to the minor leagues, he must first be exposed to all other teams on irrevocable outright waivers. If no one claims him, he can be released or outrighted to the minors.

A player's ability to refuse a minor league assignment depends on his service time and contract status.

Thanks to Rob Neyer's Transactions Primer and Cot's Baseball Contracts. Check out the MLBTR Glossary for more explanations of transactions terms.

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The Pete Incaviglia Rule

Here's a quick one for the MLBTR Glossary

A player cannot be traded until one year after he signs with a major league team. The rule was instituted after the Expos traded Pete Incaviglia to the Rangers just months after drafting him. This article says he was dealt because the Expos had trouble signing him. Incaviglia, who would go on to become an all-or-nothing hitter with the Rangers, was chosen eighth overall by the Expos in 1985.

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The Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft takes place every year at baseball's winter meetings in December. Some years it's uneventful, but it's been a major source of talent for the teams that selected Dan UgglaJohan Santana and Roberto Clemente. Here's how it works:

  • Players who signed when 18 or younger are eligible for the draft after five years.
  • Players who signed when 19 or older are eligible after four years.
  • If these players aren't on their teams' 40 man rosters, they're exposed. 
  • As in the June draft, teams draft in reverse order of the previous season's standings. 
  • Teams that draft players must pay $50k to the player's original team. 
  • Those selected must remain on the 25-man roster or the major league DL for the entire season.
  • Otherwise, the claiming team has to offer the player back to his original team for $25k.  
  • First, however, he must clear outright waivers. 
  • This gives the other 28 teams the opportunity to claim him. If any team claims the player, he must remain on their roster for the entire season or go through waivers again.
  • The draft was more relevant before it was modified under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, when players were eligible a year earlier.   

Thanks to's Keith LawCot's Baseball Contracts and's Rob Neyer.

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Players To Be Named Later

Here's another term for the MLBTR glossary

Players to be named later must be named within six months of the trade they're a part of. They tend to be minor leaguers, as they cannot have spent time in the major leagues between the day the trade is announced and the day it is completed. Here are a couple instances in which the PTBNL can be useful:

  • The teams are only sure about half of the exchange, but they want to deal right away.
  • The clubs agree that the PTBNL will be chosen from a set list of players.   
  • Once a draft pick signs, he can't be traded for a year. If teams want to deal recently-drafted players, they can complete part of the deal and name the final player once he's eligible to be traded. 
  • Instead of naming a player, teams can exchange money to complete a deal.   
  • For example, Jeff Keppinger was dealt for a PTBNL in 2009.

Thanks to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

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