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The 10 and 5 Rights

Rumors swirled this offseason about whether or not, and to whom, Michael Young might be traded. The Rangers didn’t seem to have a real position for him and his bat wasn’t projected to profile in the designated hitter spot. Young had accrued 9.134 years of service entering the season, meaning he was on the cusp of attaining 10 and 5 rights. If the Rangers intended to make a move, it was about to get very difficult given what these rights entail.

Anyone with ten years of service time, of which at least the last five were spent with the same team, earns the right to veto any trade. Here we’ll look at some players who previously earned the rights; some who have earned them this season; and some who will earn them this season barring circumstances unforeseen.

On May 7, Young attained these rights. For service time purposes, a full season is considered to be 172 days. With 134 already logged for his tenth year of service (the 134 in 9.134), he needed only 38 days on the active roster to reach this point. Fortunately for the Rangers, Young has played very well this season, producing a .376 wOBA and 1.4 WAR in 55 games. He has remained above average even in his decline year and appears to be on pace for his best season since 2006. Young is owed $16 million in each of the next two seasons, which would make it tough to move him in the first place.

Now that he has the ability to veto any trade it seems to be a virtual lock that he will finish out his contract with the Rangers. He isn’t the only player to earn 10 and 5 rights over the last couple of weeks.

Brandon Inge entered the season with 9.109 years of service time, requiring 63 days to trigger the automatic no-trade mechanism. He has expressed a strong interest in playing his entire career in Detroit, and 10 and 5 rights will undoubtedly help in that regard. While he is relatively inexpensive for a league average player — $5.5 million this year and next, and a $6 million club option in 2013 — some of the Tigers faithful were lukewarm to the idea of re-signing him in the first place, let alone keeping him on the team long enough to have the capability of controlling his trading prospects.

What’s interesting is that most of the players who have 10 and 5 rights, or are on the verge of reaching that point, are the ones that teams would want to keep around. It’s essentially a biased sample: given the rules surrounding team control and that the amount of time a player can stay on a big league roster prior to free agency is less than the requisite ten years of service, it stands to reason that players capable of attaining 10 and 5 rights are either the kind that teams wouldn’t want to trade, or the types of players who would have the clout to have a no-trade clause worked into a contract.

Inge serves as a counterexample to both theories, as does Vernon Wells. The former Blue Jays outfielder entered the season with 9.113 years of service time, meaning he would have garnered the no-trade protection had he remained on the Blue Jays until the end of this month. In his case, the rights wouldn’t have mattered because he had previously negotiated a full no-trade clause into his contract. He had to waive it to approve his trade.

The next player scheduled to earn these rights is similar to Wells in this respect. Carlos Zambrano already has no-trade protection in his contract, meaning the 10 and 5 rights don’t really help him in any way. Zambrano (9.042 years) and Josh Beckett (9.030 years) are both set to achieve ’10 and 5′ status at some point in August, though it won’t make a difference for the former. According to Cot’s, Beckett’s deal does not include a no trade clause, meaning he will earn some benefit when the rights kick in. The two closest players after them are J.D. Drew and Ryan Franklin, both of whom will reach free agency at the end of the season.

Most of the time, players with 10 and 5 rights aren’t traded for one reason or another. If a trade is proposed, it isn’t often fought or vetoed by the player either. Last season, however, Derrek Lee invoked his rights by blocking a trade to the Angels. He ended up going to the Braves and continued his stark decline. The 10 and 5 rights made a whole lot of sense during the infancy of free agency, especially with the Curt Flood situation. Nowadays, it feels somewhat redundant given the issuance of no-trade clauses and that players retained for at least five years after their team controlled status expires are likely desired to remain put.

The rights add another layer to the transactional onion. They can also become a mighty big consideration when deciding to sign someone without including a no trade clause, or determining when to trade a player who has attained said protection in one form or another.