SoSH Glossary: Designated For Assignment

Baseball is filled with statistics, rules, and archaic terms that can often form what sounds like a foreign language. Sons of Sam Horn’s glossary provides a better understanding of these terms through straightforward definitions, clear explanations, and examples pulled straight from the baseball world. If there is anything you would like us to add to our glossary, please contact us.

Designated For Assignment

A player can be Designated for Assignment (DFA) if a team needs to remove him from the 40-man roster. Players that still have MLB options do not have to be designated for assignment to move from the 25-man roster to the 40-man roster, but all players must go through the DFA process to be removed from the 40-man roster.

Reasons for Designating a Player for Assignment

A team would want to remove a player from the 40-man roster for three reasons:

  1. If they acquire another player that must be placed on the 40-man roster
  2. If they wish to promote a minor leaguer to the 25-man roster that is not on the 40-man roster
  3. Prior to the Rule 5 draft in December, the team wishes to clear 40-man roster spots to protect minor leaguers that would be eligible for selection by other teams, or to open slots to acquire new players themselves.

Result of Being DFA – Waivers

Once a player is designated for assignment, he is immediately removed from the team’s 40-man roster. The team then has seven days to place him on waivers, with the purpose of assigning him to one of the team’s minor-league affiliates. If a player is claimed by another team while on waivers, the player becomes a member of that team (and the remaining portion of his contract becomes the obligation of the claiming team). If the player clears waivers after a three-day wait, he can be assigned to any of the club’s minor-league teams and does not have to be returned to the team’s 40-man roster. However, a player can only be placed on waivers once in his career. Subsequent attempts to assign him to the minors after a DFA will allow the player to elect free agency, either immediately or in the offseason, if he’s not returned to the 40-man roster. A player with at least three years of MLB service time can refuse to be outrighted to the minor leagues, thereby making himself a free agent. A player with at least five years of MLB service time who refuses an assignment to the minor leagues is still guaranteed his salary.

Result of Being DFA – Trades and Releases

As an alternative to assigning a player to the minors, a player that has been designated for assignment can be traded within the 10-day DFA period. Any player that has cleared waivers and has not been traded in the 10-day period can be released. The player’s contract is still owed by the releasing team less any compensation the player receives if he signs with another MLB team. For this reason, released players typically sign for the league minimum.

Tony Kosinski has written about the top prospects in the Red Sox system and baseball contracts.

Follow Tony on Twitter @T_Bone9999.

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