I promised to provide an article on Future Services Contracts. At the bottom, you will find the exact wording from “THE OFFICIAL PROFESSIONAL BASEBALL RULES BOOK” (Copyright © 1988, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 The Commissioner of Baseball)
Briefly, an organization may sign, after July 1st, a player who has no previous major or minor league experience to a contract for the succeeding season – a Future Services Contract, MLR 2( j). The limiting restriction is that they can only sign 12 such players for each team with which they have a PDC (Player Development Contract) in Class A, Short-Season, and Rookie League. (For the Phillies that would be – Clearwater, Lakewood, Williamsport, two GCL teams, and two DSL teams.)
Each such player signed to a Minor League UPC (Uniform Player Contract) has to be assigned to the reserve list of one of the teams above, but he won’t count against the reserve or active list limits until the start of the next season. The Phillies are obligated to bring the players to spring training for a minimum 15-day trial. The rule goes on to discuss players who sign Major League UPCs and those in the armed services.
Any player can be assigned to Future Services Contract – drafted, non -drafted, international. A player can be signed to a Future Services Contract any time that he is eligible to sign a UPC except during the closed period, the seven days prior to the Rule 4 Draft, defined in MLR 4(f), which I included below.
There is no mention of how the signing bonuses are allocated. However, the bonus for Ben Pelletier appears to have counted against the bonus limit the year he was drafted. (Yes, he signed a future services contract. As did Reggie Wilson.)
However, the effective date of the signing postpones the start of the player’s minor league contract years by one year while his Rule 5 clock starts with the date of the signing of the contract.
For example. Arquimedes Gamboa signed a Future Services Contract on July 17, 2014. He was under 19 on the June 5th preceding his signing date, so he will be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft at the fifth Winter Meetings following his signing date (2018 in his case). However, since his Future Services Contract pushed his effective signing date back to 2015, he will not become a minor league free agent until after the 2021 season.
Another example. Deivi Grullon signed a Future Services Contract on July 2, 2012, His effective signing season is 2013. He attained Rule 5 eligibility a couple years ago, but is only in his sixth minor league contract year and doesn’t become a minor league free agent until after the 2019 season.
And another. Malquin Canelo signed a regular contract on April 29, 2012. His effective signing season was 2012. He also attained Rule 5 eligibility a couple years ago. But, since he is in his seventh minor league season, he attains free agent eligibility at the end of this season.
I had promised to publish this a couple weeks ago. Sorry for the delay, but I was uncomfortable using the version of the Major League Rules that I had. Fortunately, earlier this week I found the most current version available.
I have also come upon data from an impeccable source that allowed me to update my files with signing dates, Rule 5 eligibility, effective season, minor league contract years, and free agent eligibility. I incorporated this into the Rule 5 Eligibility sheet. It is accurate except for my original “Year of Rule 5 Eligibility” column, which is about 85% accurate. I hope to have it up to 100% by the end of the day.
MAJOR LEAGUE RULES
IMPORTANT NOTE: TO THE EXTENT OF ANY CONFLICT BETWEEN THE PROVISIONS OF THESE RULES AND THE PROVISIONS OF THE CURRENTLY EFFECTIVE BASIC AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE MAJOR LEAGUE CLUBS AND THE MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION, THE BASIC AGREEMENT SHALL IN ALL RESPECTS CONTROL.
PLAYER LIMITS AND RESERVE LISTS
(j) PLAYERS SIGNED FOR FUTURE SERVICES. No Major or Minor League Club may sign an eligible player if the player has no previous Major or Minor League experience and if the contract is for services to commence after the current calendar year, except as provided for in subparagraphs (1) or (2) of this Rule 2(j).
(1) A Major League Club may sign, after July 1, a player who has no previous Major or Minor League experience to a contract for the succeeding year, provided, however, that the number of players so signed shall not exceed 12 for each Class A, Short-Season A or Rookie League Club that the Major League Club owns or with which it has a PDC during the current season. Each such additional player signed to a Minor League Uniform Player Contract shall be placed on either a Class A, Short-Season A or Rookie Reserve List, but the player shall not count against Reserve List or Active List limits until the opening day of the succeeding championship season of the Club to which the player is assigned. The Club shall be obligated to take such player to its spring training camp (Major League, Minor League or a combination of both) for a minimum 15-day trial period. Each such additional player signed to a Major League Uniform Player’s Contract shall be placed on a Major League Reserve List, shall count against such Reserve List limits immediately, shall be directed not to report until Major League spring training camp and shall not count against Active List limits until the opening day of the succeeding championship season of the Club to which the player is assigned. The Club shall be obligated to take such player to its spring training camp (Major League, Minor League or a combination of both) for a minimum 15-d ay trial period.
(2) A player who has no previous Major or Minor League experience and who is in the Armed Services may contract, regardless of the date on which the player is scheduled to be discharged, for either the current or the next succeeding season if the player is signed between the Rule 4 draft and the Winter Meetings, or for the season following the Winter Meetings if the player is signed between the Winter Meetings and the next Rule 4 draft. A player so signed shall not be eligible for placement on the Military List and shall be counted against the signing Club’s Major or Minor League Reserve List limits. Players signed pursuant to this Rule 2(j)(2) shall not be charged for player classification purposes with any time between the date of the contract and the date of reporting.
FIRST-YEAR PLAYER DRAFT
(f) CLOSED PERIOD. The period of time beginning at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time of the seventh day prior to the date of a First-Year Player Draft and concluding with the beginning of such First-Year Player Draft shall be called the Closed Period. The right to contract with a player selected at the preceding First-Year Draft, who is not subject to the signing deadline set forth in Rule 4(d)(4), or with a player eligible to sign who was not selected at the preceding First-Year Draft, shall terminate at the beginning of the Closed Period unless such player becomes ineligible to sign at an earlier date by operation of the applicable High School, College or Junior College Rule.