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Major League Service Time is a "counter" that tracks the number of years and days a player has spent on a major league roster. The number is expressed in Years and Days. YY.DDD. A player with service time of 12.047 has been on a major league roster for 12 complete years and 47 days. The value is used for contract status and eligibility. A player must accrue x # of years to become a free agent and x# of years to be arbitration-eligible. Service Time is displayed on a player's page and in various other places on the site.
The controversy surrounding service time is how teams manipulate players service time by calling them up a little bit later in the season. There are 183 days in a Major League Season and to incur a year of service time, a player will need to be on a roster for 162 days. Teams will hold a player off the roster for these days so that they don't use a full year of their service time in their first year, thus pushing their free agency elibility back a year.
Service Time is captured for Major Leaguers since 2006 on this site.