Out of Service: Does Service Time Manipulation Violate Major League Baseball's Collective Bargaining Agreement?
36 Pages Posted: 20 Jul 2016 Last revised: 6 Oct 2016
Date Written: April 21, 2016
Under the current Major League Baseball Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”), professional players are eligible to file for salary arbitration or free agency once they reach certain thresholds of service time in the league. In recent years, however, Major League Baseball teams have taken advantage of the construction of service time rules in order to artificially keep players under their control at lower salaries for one year longer than the rules appear to contemplate. The controversy surrounding service time manipulation hit its apex in 2015, when Chicago Cubs prospect Kris Bryant was kept in the minor league system just long enough to ensure that his team would gain an additional year of control over his contract before he would be eligible to file for free agency. This Note discusses the potential for players like Bryant to allege violations of the current CBA for service time manipulation, and argues that the service time manipulation debate should set the stage for a reformed service time system in negotiations for the next CBA.
Keywords: Major League Baseball, MLB, Service Time, Kris Bryant, Collective Bargaining Agreement, CBA, Professional Sports
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