Alright. Let's go through this, with years. It's a good exercise. And we'll maximize the years of control, cool?
A high school senior, you are drafted, at age 18, in 2023 and signed in 2023.
Under current rules that means the Cardinals would need to protect you from the Rule 5 draft after the 2027 season.
That means your first season on the 40-man roster will be 2028.
The Cardinals have three option years -- not three options, option years, and they can option you up to five times in each of those years. So:
-- First option year: 2028.
-- Second option year: 2029.
-- Third option year: 2030.
In 2031 you're a spring sensation, and they know if they option you again you'll be eligible for waivers and some team will take you. But you win a starting job and for the first time are in the majors as a regular and gaining service time.
From 2031-2033, you are considered pre-arbitration, though likely to get Super-2 status and four cracks at arbitration.
From 2034-2036, you have arbitration rights and the team still has control.
With six years of service time, you become a free agent after the 2036 season.
That's obviously an extreme example of control because most players would not go through their three option years without getting any service time or any appearance in the majors. And any time a player is gathering service time that puts them closer to free agency. Still, this gives you the outlier of how far control can extend.
Hope that helps.