What Does Designated For Assignment Mean in Baseball? Explained

Remember the time when you looked at a baseball player’s profile and saw ‘designated for assignment.’ At that point, it made you curious as to what could be the meaning of this phrase. Therefore, what does designated for assignment mean in baseball?

Also abbreviated as ‘DFA,’ designated for assignment means that the club immediately removed the player from the 40-man roster. Therefore, the team now has an open slot for another player. MLB teams will have, at most, seven days to decide their next step for the DFAed player.

How does DFA work in MLB? Also, what happens to these players who have the DFA status? Are these baseball athletes going to be optioned?

The official definition of the designated for assignment (DFA) states that it’s a status when aA player who is designated for assignment is immediately removed from the 40-man roster. If he is placed on irrevocable waivers, he would be traded or released. If a player is claimed off waivers by another team, he is immediately added to their 40-man roster.

The DFAed player can then be assigned to their Minor Leagues or released if he clears waivers. This option can be utilized to clear a roster spot for a player who has been claimed off the 40-man roster.

How Does Designated for Assignment Work?

Designated for Assignment Work

Being DFAed in MLB is akin to being in limbo. In other words, if a player has a DFA next to his name in a baseball report, the team or the league doesn’t allow that player to return playing until officiating staff decides their next step. At this point, league officials, including club managers, can decide whether to put the player on waivers, trade him, or release the individual.

Players on Waivers

Players on Waivers

A player is placed on waivers once he has been designated for assignment. He is then required to clear waivers and be sent to a minor league club. Nonetheless, the player can still earn from playing minor leagues as he’s still following his contract’s terms.

Players Up for Trades

Players Up for Trades

When a player is designated for transfer, he may be traded once the team that designated him for assignment signs him to a new contract. One example is Brian Shouse from the Texas Rangers.

The Rangers placed Shouse in DFA in May 2006. Four days later, the team traded Shouse for another player in the Milwaukee Brewers. The only way the Brewers would have been able to trade Shouse was if he was placed on waivers. According to the rules, the other American League teams would have preferred to claim him.

Players Released

Players Released

If a player clears waivers, he is free to sign with any team in the Major Leagues. The team that released him is responsible for the salary he is owed, as well as the team that signed him. At this point, the player will become a free agent, which means he can now sign up with any of the 30 MLB teams. The individual may also decide to return to the team that released him. However, it’s still up to the club if they want to welcome the released baseball player.

Players Placed in DFA

It can be disheartening when a player sees the dreaded DFA next to his name in an MLB report. However, not every case of being DFAed can be worrisome. Take a look at a couple of the examples of DFAed players in MLB history.

Chris Gimenez

Chris Gimenez

Gimenez has been a DFA four times in his career. He has also spent time in the minors. His experiences in this matter vary for each instance. During his 3rd time being DFAed, Gimenez said the following:

"In that case, it worked out good, because my wife was basically ready to have our second son. We had two times where we went into the hospital and nothing happened, and that kind of gave me an extra three days. The terrible thing was, we were building our house where we live now, so we were staying with her parents, and our 3-year-old son, at the time, was there. It was a little bit of a crowded spot, and I appreciate her parents letting us stay there, because it wasn't the original plan the way everything happened.”

Chris Young

Chris Young

Chris Young, the former outfielder of the Angels, has been in DFA by the Mets in August 2014. The club released him, allowing Young to become a free agent. He then signed up with the Yankees, providing him with another chance at recovering his career.

What Happens When a Baseball Player is Optioned?

Baseball Player is Optioned

Although quite similar, DFA and option in baseball are different. If a club decides to DFA a player, the team will have ten days to trade, release, or waive him. On the other hand, optioning a player will send the athlete to the minors directly.

A player on a 40-man roster is given three Minor League options. The first two are assigned to the Minor Leagues, and the third is sent to the majors. Players who are on the 40-man roster but not on the 25-man roster or the injured list are required to be optioned to the Minors. Each time a player is optioned to the minors, he loses his only remaining option.

Those who have accrued less than five years are eligible for a fourth option year if their three options have already been exhausted. Players placed on the disabled list must stay on the Minor Leagues for a minimum of 10 days. If a player is summoned to the Major Leagues for a game or an injury, he or she must stay in the Minors for 15 days.

A player’s option years can be used in succession. Players with fewer than five years of service time can be optioned to the minor leagues.

Final Words

Designated for assignment or DFA occurs when a player is placed on the disabled list with a designation for assignment. The player is immediately removed from the 40-man roster. At this point, the club has different ways to deal with the matter, which are putting the athlete on a waiver, trading him, or releasing the individual for him to become a free agent.

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