Rule 55 – Minor League Free Agency

  • Eligibility – On the fifth day after the end of the World Series, a player shall become a minor league free agent (“MLFA”) unless the player has remaining renewals on his contract (generally six years from original signing). As a MLFA, the player may negotiate a deal with any MLB or MiL club.
  • Successor Contract – A player shall not become a MLFA if the player enters into a successor contract prior to October 15
  • List of Eligible Players – On August 1, the Commissioner shall circulate a list of all players eligible to become MLFAs the following October 15.
  • Petitions to Change List – A player may petition to amend the list if that player believes to have been erroneously omitted. A club may petition to amend the list if the club believes the player was erroneously included

Despite the term "six-year free agency", the duration of all original minor league contracts is actually seven years across the board, unless the team sets a different term (which is rare). Partial seasons are included, and if a player signs a contract starting in a future season, that is the first season of the seven-year term. So the term "six year free agent" is essentially a total misnomer, except that you can do the math by adding six to the player's first contract year to determine when he'll be a minor league free agent. Here is the relevant language from the Minor League Uniform Player Contract:

VI. Duration and Conditions Of Employment

A. Unless a different term of this Minor League Uniform Player Contract is set forth in Addendum A, Club hereby employs Player, and Player agrees to render, skilled services as a Minor League Player in seven (7) separate championship playing seasons, commencing with the beginning of the championship playing season identified in paragraph 3 of Addendum A, or the portion of that regular championship playing season remaining after the execution date of this Minor League Uniform Player Contract, as specified in Paragraph 4 of Addendum A, whichever date is later.