mezirah, I forgot where I read it in the thread, but I think you confused "option" years as adding to potential service years (the way I read what you wrote was that you could add the option years to the arb years and get 3 more years). If this is what you were saying and understanding, it is not correct. "Option" years simply allows you to send a player from ML back down to MiL without having to clear waivers. Once the "option' clock runs out, anytime you want to send a player back down you will have to send them through waivers. "Arbitration" years are ML years 3-5 where their contract is assessed based on the previous years stats. If you intend to control the player past their last arb year, you are encouraged to sign them to a long-term contract in that 5th season.
MikeT gave the formula. I will state again, I am still a newbie -- his advice is arrogance (but I like reading his stuff), but is also truth. You cant change the math. You can control (meaning service with the team and the value of their contract) for 11 seasons. After that, the player will leave and chase the big payday. If you have 5 hitting the market at same time, you will find that not only will the player NOT give you a home town discount, you will not be able to sign that many to their contract demands.
Also, I think you underestimate how effective and how many wins you can have with 3 stud All-Stars and average ML players.