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MLB options, waivers and outright assignments, explained
Here’s a glossary of what MLB transaction terms really mean.
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Now that the 2017 World Series is over, Major League Baseball teams are wasting no time in making moves to adjust their rosters for the 2018 season.
Andrew Romine was placed on waivers and claimed by the Seattle Mariners . Jim Adduci cleared waivers and was outrighted to the minor leagues. Alex Presley cleared waivers, was outrighted, and elected free agency. Tyler Collins cleared waivers, was outrighted, and might elect free agency. Kyle Ryan, Myles Jaye , Bryan Holaday , and Efren Navarro were also placed on outright waivers. Eight players, all placed on waivers, with different situations.
Here is how they work.
What are waivers?
Waivers are a way for a major league team to take a player off its 40-man roster in order to send him outright to the minor leagues, or release him and let him become a free agent. A player cannot be removed from the 40-man roster without first clearing waivers, where all 29 other teams have a chance to claim that player, and his existing contract, for a modest waiver fee.
What are MLB options?
An option (optional assignment) allows a club to move a player on its 40-man roster to and from the minor leagues without exposing him to other teams.
Once a player is added to a team’s 40-man roster, his team has three options, or three different seasons in which the club may to send him to the minor leagues without having to clear waivers. A player on the 40-man roster playing in the minors is on optional assignment. There is no limit on the number of times a club may promote and demote a player during one option season.
A player must spend at least 20 days total in the minor leagues during one season (not including rehabilitation assignments) in order to be charged with an option. John Hicks was sent up and down a half dozen times during the 2017 season, but used just one option.
When a player is out of options, he cannot be sent to the minors without first clearing waivers. Also, a player who has accrued at least five years of major league service time may not be optioned to the minors without his consent. Hicks , as well as Bruce Rondon , Drew VerHagen , Matt Boyd and Buck Farmer are now out of options, so they will have to go on waivers if they don’t make the team in the spring.
There are three types of waivers.
Outright waivers are used when a team wants to send a player to the minors but he is out of options. If the player clears waivers, he may be outrighted to the minor leagues.
However, a player may only be outrighted once during his career without his consent. When a player is outrighted for the second time or more, he may elect to become a free agent either immediately, if during the season, or as soon as the season is over, unless he is added back to the 40-man roster. This is why Tyler Collins can — and probably will — elect free agency.
A player with three years of major league service may also refuse an outright assignment and choose to become a free agent immediately or at the end of the season. Alex Presley, who has over four years of service time in the majors, rejected his outright assignment and chose free agency.
Release waivers are requested when a team wants to give a player his unconditional release.
Special Waivers , also known as revocable waivers or major league waivers, are used only between July 31 and the end of each season. These waivers are required in order to trade a player who is on the 40-man roster to another major league team after the trade deadline. Justin Verlander cleared waivers and was traded to the Houston Astros on August 31 in one of the most famous post-deadline trades ever.
What does it mean for a player to be designated for assignment?
A player may be designated for assignment (DFA) , giving the team 10 days to either trade him, or send him to the minor leagues, provided he clears waivers.
Romine and Presley were eligible for arbitration this offseason, and the Tigers were not prepared to risk going through that process with them. The same fate may await Bruce Rondon or Blaine Hardy, who are also eligible for arbitration this winter. BYB posted the projected salaries for the Tigers’ arbitration eligible players here .
Hardy still has an option year remaining, whereas Presley, Romine, and Rondon are all out of options.
The Tigers have until December 1 to offer a contract to their arbitration-eligible players. If they don’t make an offer, the player is said to be “non-tendered” and becomes a free agent.
Teams have until November 20 to submit their reserve lists of up to 40 players to the MLB office in advance of the Rule 5 draft. The Tigers will be adding some young players to the roster by that date, and will want to keep a spot or two open so that they may make a selection with their first pick in the draft on December 14.
Thursday was the day that players who are eligible for free agency became free agents, but the Tigers had no such players, having traded any would-be free agents during the season. Detroit formally declined their $16 million option on Anibal Sanchez on Thursday, paying him a $5 million buyout and making him a free agent.
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How Does Designate For Assignment Work? [reasons, Process, & Outcomes]
If you follow Major League Baseball, then you must have heard of the term Designate for Assignment (DFA). When a player is DFA in baseball, various things can happen. Seeing this, you may ask, “what does designate for assignment mean?”
Designate for Assignment is a contractual term in MLB where the team removes the player from the active 40-man roster but still has the rights to the player. DFA puts the player on a waiver period where other teams can claim him.
But why does a team DFA a baseball player? What happens when a team designates a player for an assignment? Continue scrolling till the end as I answer all your questions regarding DFA in baseball.
Table of Contents
DFA Meaning Baseball
DFA is a term in Major League Baseball (MLB), which is a short form of “Designate for Assignment”. It means removing a player from the active roster of the baseball team without immediately releasing the member.
Many people confuse releasing with DFA. But they are different things. When a team designates a player for assignment, it is setting aside the player, not completely releasing them from the team.
Reasons for Designating Players for Assignment
A team can designate a player due to various reasons. It can be for changing the game strategy and tactics or trying to strengthen the team.
Here are the most common reasons why a baseball designates a player for assignment:
- Performance issues: Performance reason is the primary reason for DFA. If a player fails to perform well and does not meet the team’s expectations, then the management may decide to DFA him and take someone else on the team.
The performance issues can be anything from struggling with batting to poor fielding or pitching and more. Even though the player is not performing well, the team may not want to leave the player completely. That is why they opt for DFA.
- Making room for new players: If the management finds an excellent performer outside the team, then they might decide to DFA an existing player. It will create room for the new player.
The new player may come from performing fantastically in the minor league. Plus, the management may also trade in new players from other teams.
- Creating balance in the team: Although the management plans well before listing their roster, they can still find an imbalance in the team. Besides, they may also want to switch players to change their game strategy.
In that case, designating a player for assignment from the team can be the best solution. It will allow the team to bring in a new player with the required skill to create balance in the baseball team.
- Trade options: Teams may also want to trade a player and that is why they do DFA. If the team directly releases the player, it will not give them any financial benefit. But they can DFA the player and look for trade opportunities.
If any other team is interested in the player, they may try to buy the designated player. In that case, the original team will get financial benefits from the trade.
- Injuries: Injuries can also be a reason for DFA. Athletes can get injured at any time while playing. If the injury lasts long, it can hurt the team as that member can not play for the team.
In that case, the team usually DFA the injured player. Then the team brings in fit baseball players to continue the campaign with a full active 40-man roster.
Designate for Assignment Process
Designate for Assignment in baseball is usually made by the team’s front office. It includes the coaching staff and general manager. They evaluate the player’s performance and the team’s need to make the call.
Once they make the decision, they will let the player and the MLB authority know about it. The team management will also inform the media about the decision to keep the fans updated and also let other teams know about player availability.
What Happens After Designation for Assignment?
When a player is designated for assignment, he enters the waiver period. It means the other baseball teams have the opportunity to claim the player. The waiver period usually lasts 7 days in MLB.
If another team claims the player during this waiver period, then they get all the rights to the player and can move him to their active roster. Such trading is common in other sports too.
In this scenario, the team who designated that player for assignment relinquishes all the rights of the player. Now, the new team will take care of the player’s contract and salary.
However, if no other team claims the player during the waiver period, he will be outright assigned to the minor leagues. It will happen when the player has minor league options remaining and is not claimed off waivers.
If the player is outrighted to the minor leagues, he will be removed from the MLB team’s 40-man roster. But he will remain with the organization and enjoy all the benefits.
Interestingly, the player has two choices here. He can either accept the outright assignment and play in the minor leagues or can ask for release and become a free agent.
Many players often are not interested in playing in the minor leagues. In that case, they ask for release after the DFA. Then he becomes a free agent, and any other MLB team can sign that player.
1. What is the difference between DFA and being released?
The main difference between DFA and being released is that the team retains the right to the player in DFA. But when the team releases a player in baseball, it terminates all the contracts between them, and the team holds no right to the player.
2. What is the difference between options and designated for assignment?
The main difference between options and designated for assignment is that the option allows the team to send the player to the minor leagues without putting him into the waiver period. That means no other team can claim the player.
3. Can a player refuse assignment after being designated for assignment?
No. A player usually does not hold the right to refuse a designate for assignment. However, if he has been with MLB for over 3 years or has been outrighted previously, he can refuse the outright assignment.
4. Can a team designate a player for assignment multiple times?
Yes. A team can designate a player multiple times during their contract period. Whenever the team feels that the player is failing to meet the team’s expectations, they can DFA the player.
My Opinion on DFA
DFA in baseball can be tough for players. The miseries enhance when no other team shows interest in claiming or trading that player.
But it is good practice to get better team results in the MLB. The process allows the team to reorganize and improve their performance. Besides, it also allows the player to look for better opportunities in other teams.
For these reasons, I think DFA is a pretty good option for both the team and the player. It can benefit both parties.
Learn More What Is A Breaking Ball?
What Is WAR (Wins Above Replacement) In Baseball
What Does Defect Mean In Baseball?
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What Is The Pennant In Baseball
Hello everyone. My name is Jason Butler, and I live in California, America. I was a professional AAA Minor League Baseball player. I lost my chance of playing MLB for injury issues, but I did not lose my love for baseball. I attended the coaching training program and am now working as a coach in a small school in San Diego.
I always love to share my experience and knowledge if that can help you. Play baseball, and stay fit.
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There are two different rosters that are significant for MLB teams. The first is the 40-man (major league) roster, in force year-round, which consists of players who are under reserve to the team. The second is the 25-man (active) roster, which exists only during the season and consists of players that may be used in games.
The 15 players on the major league but not the active roster play in the minor leagues and are said to be serving an optional assignment. If a player on the 40-man cannot be sent on optional assignment, and the team does not have room on the 25-man (or doesn't want him on it), then the player can be designated for assignment (DFA). The DFA move can only be made when the roster is full (at 25 or 40 players). The team then has 10 days to trade the player, release him, or expose him to outright waivers where other teams can claim and add him to their 25- and 40-man rosters. If the player clears waivers, then, under certain circumstances, he can be outrighted off the 40-man roster with the team still retaining his rights.
Players who can be sent on optional assignment, or can be outrighted, have value in terms of providing flexibility to their teams, especially in the event of injuries or player struggles. Free agents who sign a minor league contract with a team are not on the 40-man roster. Players on the 60-day disabled list are considered to be on the 40-man roster but do not count towards the 40-player limit.
In general, teams are granted three option years on a specific player. While it is common to refer to players as having finite number of "options", that get used up whenever the player is sent on optional assignment, this is a misnomer as optional assignments are for entire seasons. Players can be optioned and recalled multiple times within a season while only using one option year. For example, Mike McCoy was optioned to Las Vegas and recalled six times in the 2011 season, but that only counted as one option. If a player spends less than 20 days on optional assignment, then the player is not deemed to have had an option year used (but the player gets service credit and MLB salary for the time spent in the minors).
A player is considered out of options in the season following the use of his last option year, and he must stay on the 25-man roster or be removed from the 40-man roster. In addition, players with more than five years major league service time cannot be optioned without the consent of the player, which is known as Veteran's Consent. In practice, this is unlikely to be granted, and it is safe to assume that a team cannot option a player with five years of MLB service.
Fourth Option Year
In certain uncommon circumstances, a player may qualify for a fourth option year. This occurs when a player's three option years have been exhausted, but he does not have five professional seasons. The crux of the matter is in how "professional season" is defined for option purposes. A season only counts as a professional season if the player spends 90 or more days on an active roster (or 60 days or more days on the active roster and 30 or more on the DL). Rookie and short season leagues do not last for 90 days, so players assigned to these levels cannot qualify (unless first assigned to a full season league).
Most players who qualify for a fourth option year are international free agents signed at age 16 or 17. If they play a couple years in rookie ball, by the time they are added to the 40-man roster, to be protected from the Rule 5 draft, four years later, they may only have one year in a full season league and only one qualifying season. Assuming optional assignments the next three years, the player will only have four qualifying seasons. In general, if a player has two or more full seasons when added to the 40-man, it is very unlikely he will qualify for a forth option; if he has less than two there is a reasonable chance of it though it is not guaranteed
When teams want to outright a player off the 40-man roster (usually upon a DFA, but a team can also put a player on outright waivers), their ability to do so depends on a few factors and may require the consent of the player:
- If a player has not been previously outrighted and does not have three years MLB service (or was a Super 2 in the previous offseason), then he must accept the team's outright assignment
- If a player has more than three years MLB service or has been previously outrighted, then he can elect to immediately become a free agent without termination pay. The player therefore forgoes any salary or other guarantees under his Major League contract. The player can also choose to accept the outright assignment, in which case he retains the right to elect free agency at the end of the season unless returned to the 40-man roster. An example of this is Scott Richmond, who was first sent outright in 2011, and then again in 2012. He accepted the 2012 outright assignment but elected free agency at the end of the season, which he wouldn't have otherwise been entitled to do.
- If a player has more than five years MLB service, then his contract can only be assigned to another MLB team without his consent. As such, in addition to the right to elect free agency, he also has the right to simply refuse an outright assignment. In that case, the player must be kept on the 40-man roster (and the 25-man roster, unless the player has option years left and consents to optional assignment) or be released.
The rules governing Major League Baseball's transactions are very complex and is hard for any fan to understand the nuance of all of them. Especially difficult are the concept of waivers in baseball. Here we try to summarize Rule 10 of the Major League Rules, which governs how waivers work.
Waivers are simply permission slips that the other 29 clubs give in order for a particular club to make an assignment. Essentially, for a club to make certain transactions (at certain times), they will need all the other clubs to waive their right to intercept in order to proceed. Not all transactions require waivers--for example, two clubs can trade players without permission before July 31 (which is why it is called the non-waiver trade deadline).
There are three types of waivers with three different functions that are summarized in the table below.
* When a player that was previously pulled back from revocable waivers is placed on the same type of waivers during the same waiver period, that waiver request becomes irrevocable. That is, a player who is placed on waivers may only be pulled back once.
† Outright and trade assignment waivers can be obtained for players on the disabled list only if: a) the minimum period of inactivity (15 or 60 days) has elapsed; b) the assigning club guarantees the player is well enough to play.
Procedure to Obtain Waivers
- Club registers a request for waivers with the Office of the Commissioner
- Notice of waiver request is given out on a private channel to all major league clubs
- Other clubs have two days to submit a claim
- If a club claims a player on revocable waivers, the Commissioner will automatically revoke the waiver request unless the club notifies his office that they do not wish a withdrawal.
- If there is no claim after two days, the player "clears" waivers and can be assigned or released. If there is a claim, the player is granted to the team with the highest claiming priority.
Waivers Claim Priority Order
For trade assignment waivers:
Team with the lowest winning percentage from the current season gets the claim; however a claiming team from same league (ie. American or National) as the assigning team always gets priority over a claiming team from the other league, regardless of winning percentage. This is why, in August, interleague trades are more difficult than intraleague trades. Overall, all trades are more difficult after July 31 because teams can prevent trades that might bolster their rivals by claiming the players that are being traded to their rivals.
For outright and unconditional release waivers:
Team with the lowest winning percentage from the current season gets the claim, regardless of league (unless two teams from opposite leagues are tied in winning percentage, then the team from the same league wins the claim). During the first 30 days of the season, the winning percentages from the previous season are used to determine priority.
Designated for assignment
- View history
Designated for assignment is a contractual term used in Major League Baseball . When a player is designated for assignment, he is immediately removed from the club's 40-man roster . This gives the club 10 days to decide what to do with the player while freeing up a roster spot for another transaction, if needed. After designating a player for assignment, the club must make one of the following contractual moves.
Place the player on waivers [ ]
Typically a player is placed on waivers after being designated for assignment for the purpose of outrighting him to one of the club's minor league teams. However, a player must clear waivers (that is, no other team may place a waiver claim on the player) to be sent to a minor league team. Also, if the player has five or more full years of major league service, he must give consent to be assigned to the minors. If the player withholds consent, the team must either release him or keep him on the major league roster. In either case, the player must continue to be paid under the terms of his contract.
Trade the player [ ]
Once a player is designated for assignment, he may be traded. Some teams have been known to designate players for assignment to increase interest in the player, especially among teams that are not at the top of the list for waivers. For example, in May 2006, Rangers reliever Brian Shouse was designated for assignment, and was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers 4 days later. The Brewers could have waited until Shouse was placed on waivers so they would not have had to give up a player in a trade, but according to the waiver rules , the other 13 AL teams would have preference in claiming him. Also, under the "five and ten rule," if a player has ten years of Major League service, the last five of which with his current team, he cannot be traded without his consent.
Release the player [ ]
If a player is not traded, and clears waivers, he may be released from the team. The player is then a free agent and is able to sign with any of the 30 Major League teams, including the team that just released him. The team that releases him is responsible for the salary the player is owed, less what he is paid by the team that signs him.
- 1 World Series
- 2 Ron Guidry
- 3 Jim Morris
Designated for Assignment in Baseball: Key Rules and Strategies
In Major League Baseball, team rosters and player contracts are subject to constant change. One particular term that holds significant importance in this regard is “designate for assignment” (DFA).Understanding the DFA process and its implications on a player’s career is essential for anyone looking to learn more about the intricacies of Major League Baseball.
When a player’s contract is designated for assignment, he is removed from his team’s 40-man roster immediately. This action triggers a seven-day window within which the team must either trade the player or place him on irrevocable outright waivers.
The primary objective of the DFA process is to create flexibility for teams to manage their rosters while allowing them the opportunity to keep or release players based on performance or strategic considerations.
In general, a player that has been designated for assignment may find his career trajectory altered, as he could either end up being traded to another team, outrighted to a minor league team, or released from his contract entirely. As such, the DFA process plays a vital role in shaping the dynamics of professional baseball, impacting both teams and players alike.
Designate for Assignment Definition
Reasons for designating a player, waiver period, player outcomes, roster management, trade opportunities, notable dfa examples.
Designate for Assignment (DFA) is a contractual term used in Major League Baseball (MLB) when a team wants to remove a player from its 40-man roster.
This action allows the team to make room for a new player or provide flexibility in managing its roster. Once a player is designated for assignment, the team has seven days to decide the player’s fate, which could include trading, releasing, or outrighting the player to the minor leagues, among other options.
In addition to being removed from the 40-man roster, the player is also taken off the team’s active roster, meaning they cannot participate in any games during the seven-day period. The designated player’s contract remains in force, and they continue to receive their salary and benefits during this time.
To facilitate the player’s potential move to another team or the minor leagues, the player can be placed on waivers for a specified period. Waivers provide other MLB teams with the opportunity to claim the player and assume their contract. If multiple teams place a claim, the team with the weakest record in the player’s league is given priority. If the player is not claimed by any team during the waiver period, they can then be outrighted to the minor leagues, traded, or released.
However, if the player has accrued a specific amount of Major League service time, they may have the right to refuse an outright assignment to the minor leagues, opting instead for free agency.
There are various reasons a baseball team might opt to designate a player for assignment (DFA). One common reason is to make room on the 40-man roster for another player. The move allows the team to immediately remove a player from their roster and provides them with some roster flexibility.
Another reason for designating a player is due to their performance. If a player is experiencing a significant slump or has consistently failed to meet the team’s expectations, the DFA process can be implemented as a method to allow the player to refocus, find their form, or make adjustments while they are in the minor leagues.
Injuries can also be a factor. When a player sustains a serious injury and is unable to contribute to the team, it may be necessary to designate them for assignment to open a roster spot for a healthy replacement. Similarly, when a player who was previously on the injured list is ready to return to the team, the organization may need to DFA another player to make room.
Lastly, financial considerations can come into play. In some cases, a team might designate a player for assignment due to their contract, such as when a high-priced player is underperforming and the team wishes to move on without having to pay that player’s remaining salary. This could make DFA an option for teams who are trying to reduce payroll while still retaining some control.
The process of Designated for Assignment (DFA) in baseball involves removing a player from a team’s 40-man roster. This step provides teams with flexibility in managing their player rosters and creates opportunities for the player in question to find a new role within another team.
When a player is designated for assignment, the team has seven days to determine the next course of action. During this period, the player can be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers, allowing other teams to claim the player (MLB.com) .
There are several possible outcomes for a player who has been designated for assignment:
- Returned to the 40-man roster: The team can choose to reverse the decision and return the player to the 40-man roster
- Trade: The player can be traded to another team during the waiver period, allowing both teams to negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.
- Waivers: If the player is placed on waivers and claimed by another team, the new team takes responsibility for the player’s contract.
- Release: The player is released from the team, effectively making them a free agent and able to negotiate a new contract with any team.
- Outright to the Minor Leagues: If the player clears waivers, meaning no teams claim the player, they can be outrighted from the 40-man roster into Minor League Baseball, allowing the player to continue their career within the organization.
The DFA process creates flexibility for teams to adjust their rosters as needed, while providing players with the opportunity to find new roles within the league.
Strategies and Implications
Designating a player for assignment (DFA) is a useful roster management tool in baseball. When a player is designated for assignment , they are immediately removed from the team’s 40-man roster, but their rights are retained by the team. This allows the team to explore different options within a seven-day window, such as trading the player or placing them on irrevocable outright waivers.
Utilizing the DFA process can help teams manage their roster more effectively by providing flexibility in making decisions. Teams may choose to designate a player for assignment if they need to clear roster space for an incoming player or if they believe the player is no longer a suitable fit for the team’s strategy. This process also provides teams with the opportunity to find appropriate solutions for both the team and the player, minimizing the risk of losing the player without receiving any return value.
When a player is designated for assignment, there are trade opportunities that may benefit the team. The player can be traded to another team within the seven-day window, allowing the original team to potentially receive assets in return. This can include other players, cash considerations, or a combination of both.
Trading a designated player provides teams with the possibility of acquiring additional resources that may be more aligned with their strategic goals or fill specific needs on the roster. It serves as a last resort for the team to recoup some value from the player before potentially losing them via waivers.
In summary, the designated for assignment process in baseball offers valuable roster management and trade opportunities for teams. By strategically using this tool, teams can optimize their roster composition and take advantage of potential trade returns to build a competitive team.
Throughout the history of Major League Baseball, many players have been designated for assignment (DFA). While some DFA cases are unremarkable, others involve notable players or have led to interesting outcomes. Here are a few prominent examples:
One such case involved former World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval who was designated for assignment by the Boston Red Sox in 2017. After experiencing a significant decline in performance and dealing with health issues, the Red Sox ultimately DFA’d Sandoval , eventually releasing him.
Another significant example is the 2018 DFA placement of four-time All-Star Adrian Gonzalez by the New York Mets. The first baseman struggled in his time with the Mets and was consequently designated for assignment , eventually released and then retiring.
Former Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum also experienced a notable DFA in 2016, when the Los Angeles Angels removed him from their 40-man roster due to poor performance. In this case, Lincecum cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A before ultimately electing free agency later that year.
In summary, these notable DFA examples showcase the unpredictability and challenges faced by professional baseball players. The designated for assignment process is a reminder that no player is immune to changes in performance, injuries, or other factors that may lead to their removal from a team’s 40-man roster.