One of the most confusing things for baseball fans is free agency. Free agency is a complicated set of rules that has been negotiated in labor agreements between owners and players for more than 30 years. In major league baseball, a free agent is a baseball player with six or more years of major league service whose contract has expired for the following season, or is an amateur player who was not drafted by a team in the annual draft. The type of baseball player is now able to enter into free agency. Once in free agency, a baseball player is in a group of other free agents, from which teams can sign players. This means that a player is free to solicit offers from other teams for new contracts.
History of baseball free agency
Free agency began in 1969, when Cardinals outfielder Curt Flood was traded to Philadelphia and refused to report for work. Curt Flood appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court,but lost the verdict. However, this case put in place an arbitration system for players' union and the owners disputes. In 1975, pitchers Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally played without contract, arguing that their contract could not be renewed if it was never signed. An arbitrator agreed, and they were declared free agents. Before this ruling however, owners were able to sign players to what was known as a reserve contract, which provided a repetitive option for the team to renew the player's contract for one more year, but did not allow the player to terminate the relationship with the team if they wanted to do so. The result of the reserve clause was abusive from the player standpoint. Baseball players felt as though they were essentially property of the team. With the reserve clause effectively abolished, the players' union and the owners then agreed to the rules governing free agency that the teams and players would follow.
When a player is drafted
When a player is drafted by a major league team he is bound to that team for...