• Designate for Assignment (DFA)

When a player's contract is designated for assignment -- often abbreviated "DFA" -- that player is immediately removed from his club's 40-man roster. Within seven days of the transaction (had been 10 days under the 2012-16 Collective Bargaining Agreement), the player can either be traded or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.

If the player is claimed off said waivers by another club, he is immediately added to that team's 40-man roster, at which point he can be optioned to the Minor Leagues (if he has Minor League options remaining) or assigned to his new team's 26-man roster. If the player clears waivers, he may be sent outright to the Minor Leagues or released. Players with more than three years of Major League service time or who have been previously outrighted may reject the outright assignment in favor of free agency.

Clubs may utilize this option to clear a spot on the 40-man roster -- typically with the intention of adding a newly acquired player (via trade or free agency), a Minor Leaguer or a player being activated from the 60-day injured list.

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Designated for assignment

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.

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What Does Designated for Assignment Mean?

Chicago White Sox pitcher Dallas Keuchel watches from the dugout after being removed as manager Tony La Russa (22) checks the lineup in the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Saturday, July 3, 2021.

Like all professional sports, baseball is a game of amazing highs and, for many, some not-so-amazing lows. There are a lot of incredibly talented players and only so many spots on a roster, so if someone isn’t performing, they likely won’t be around for long.

When a player is designated for assignment, often shortened to DFA’d, they are removed from the team’s 40-man roster. From there, the team has seven days to trade the player to another team or place him on irrevocable outright waivers. It’s not a place where players ever want to find themselves, but as teams move through the season and tighten up their rosters for the baseball playoffs , we often see underperformers get DFA’d to make space for new players.

Corey Dickerson says being "Designated For Assignment" by the #Rays "Was hard to stomach"and "Embarrassing". pic.twitter.com/5eskhXIXZg — Kevin ODonnell Fox13 (@ODonnellFox13) February 27, 2018

Irrevocable Outright Waivers

If a player has been designated for assignment, he must be either traded to another team or placed on irrevocable outright waivers within seven days. 

Outright waivers allow a team to remove a player from their 40-man roster, either to cut ties with the player entirely or to send him down to the minors when he doesn’t have any options. The process allows the 29 other MLB teams to claim the player as their own if they want to add him to their roster.

Should another team want to claim the player off waivers, the new team must take responsibility for the remaining money owed to the player and immediately add him to their 40-man roster. The team can assign the player to the minor leagues, assuming he still has minor league options available, or add him to their 26-man roster.

If another team has not claimed the player after 47 hours, he is considered to have cleared waivers. Once this happens, the designating team can send the player outright to the minor leagues or release his contract. If a player has more than three years of service in the major leagues, or if he has previously been outrighted in his career, he can reject the outright option and instead enter free agency.

Players Who Were Designated for Assignment

While being designated for assignment is a long way from flattering, it’s not necessarily the end of a player’s career. Many players have been DFA’d and come back bigger and better than ever, while others have struggled to find their place in the game.

David Ortiz

Long before Big Papi was a ten-time All-Star and World Series MVP in the Hall of Fame, he hit rock bottom with the Minnesota Twins. 

On Dec. 17, 2002, the Twins designated Ortiz for assignment to make room on the roster for shortstop José Morban. Having already battled a long list of injuries, the future was uncertain for the star designated hitter.

Just a month later, on Jan. 22, 2003, Ortiz signed a non-guaranteed free agent contract with the Boston Red Sox that would be worth $1.25 million if he made the team, and the rest is history.

Designated for Assignment ➡️ @baseballhall @davidortiz did what many would consider impossible 💫 #HOFWKND pic.twitter.com/5wINIGmOyA — MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 24, 2022

Liam Hendriks

Chicago White Sox closer Hendriks was designated for assignment a few times in the early years of his career. 

The Minnesota Twins DFA’d Hendriks on Dec. 5, 2013, and he was claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs. 

He was then reclaimed off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles, who then DFA’d him on Feb. 19, 2014, before he’d even played a game, to make room for Ubaldo Jiménez on the active roster. 

Hendriks ended up with the Toronto Blue Jays, who traded him to the Kansas City Royals on July 28, 2014. The pitcher was designated for assignment again on Oct. 24, only to be claimed by the Blue Jays for a second stint and traded to the Oakland Athletics on Nov. 20, 2015.

Congrats to Liam Hendriks on #100 pic.twitter.com/8eLHPvuqfs — Sox On 35th (@SoxOn35th) August 6, 2022

Now a three-time All-Star named the American League’s Reliever of the Year in 2020 and 2021, it’s hard to believe Hendriks hasn’t always been the essential closer he is with the White Sox. 

Sometimes it just takes a minute to find the right team.

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designate for assignment in baseball

What is Designated for Assignment in Baseball

Designated for Assignment

If you follow Major League Baseball often enough, you’ll hear this phrase: designated for assignment. But it’s a long, confusing phrase for what seems like a pretty simple process. By putting a player on waivers, you remove that player from the 40-man roster .

So why is “designated for assignment” such a unique term—one that you only seem to hear in baseball? Does it mean that a player is no longer on a team? Can a player who leaves a team be able to join another during the season? Let’s look at what this process means and how it differs from other sports.

What Does Designated for Assignment (DFA) Mean?

Most often, a player moves to waivers after a DFA, as this allows a team—if the player does clear waivers—to move that player to the minor leagues. However, this can only take place once in player’s career without their permission.

An Example of How this Works

A player is DFA from the Astros, and two teams (Cleveland and the Baltimore Orioles) have interest in that player. DFA means the player gets to waivers, wherein both Cleveland and Baltimore have the option to add that player to their own roster within the waiver timeline.

Essentially, “designated for assignment” gives a team a lot of options after removing a player from their 40-man roster. And these options may mean that they retain control of the player’s contract, potentially bringing them back to the roster at a different point, rather than letting a player go straight to free agency.

What Does it Mean to Option a Baseball Player?

The “option” in this case relates to the minor leagues. According to the Major League Baseball glossary , “An option allows that player to be sent to the Minor Leagues (“optioned”) without first being subjected to waivers.” This removes a player from the 26-man roster but keeps them on the team’s ultimate 40-man roster.

You’ll often hear the phrase that a player was “optioned to the minor leagues.” Or “sent down to the minors.” That means a ball club moves players to the minor leagues, depending on that player’s eligibility.

For players who have yet to acquire five full seasons of service time (also known as years of major league service), there are typically three “options” available for the team—however, a fourth may be available if the player doesn’t have enough service time and the three options have already been used. Once a player is optioned for the minor leagues, a team has to wait at least 10 days before calling them back up, which prevents constant back-and-forth shuffling on major league rosters.

What Happens when an MLB Player is Released?

A “release” differs from a DFA because it cuts a player from a team. In other words, a release is a clearing of the ties between the ball club and the player.

Major league teams often release players in the offseason, for example, simply because there’s less they can do with their contract. By Spring training, however, major league teams need to start organizing which players will earn a roster spot on their club.

The team’s 40-man roster requires a lot of decision-making by the team, as they’re looking at the options they have with every player’s eligibility throughout the season. And teams who are considering making a run at the playoffs or having a successful regular season have to take into account issues like:

Conclusion on Designated for Assignment in Baseball

Any baseball fan of their team should understand the DFA rules. DFA means that by releasing one of your players, another team can pick that player up. As a fan, it only helps to know what goes into every small transaction for an organization. Also it allows fans to understand the complexity of running an MLB organization!

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What Is Designated For Assignment In MLB?

by Jessy Williamson | Dec 13, 2022 | MLB

designate for assignment in baseball

Designated for assignment (DFA) is a process by which a Major League Baseball team removes a player from its 40-man roster. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as the team wanting to make room on the roster for another player, or the player not meeting expectations. Once a player is designated for assignment, they are placed on waivers. If no other team claims the player within a certain period of time, they become a free agent and can sign with any team. There are a few different ways a player can be designated for assignment. The most common is when a team option is declined and the player is outrighted to the Minor Leagues . Other times, a player can be designated for assignment as part of a trade. When a player is designated for assignment, it is usually because the team is not happy with their performance. The team will try to trade the player, but if they are unable to do so, they will release them.

A player who has been designated for assignment will be returned to the minor leagues. If a player is claimed by the team, he or she may be removed from the roster or prevented from being on it. When a player is called up from Triple-A, they are released, which is the same as when they are called up from the minors. It is also possible for a player to be placed on the restricted list , which means the team will not trade him but will prevent him from playing in the major leagues. It is the team’s responsibility to put a high-quality team on the field every day in order for it to be the best.

How Does Designated For Assignment Work

How Does Designated For Assignment Work

If a player is designated for assignment — often abbreviated “DFA” — that player is immediately removed from his club’s 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the designation, the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers .

What Is Designated For Assignment In Baseball?

When a player is assigned to a different team, it is usually for a variety of reasons. The team may seek to increase the interest of a player who has not yet been placed on the waiver list . If a new player is added to the roster, there is a chance that the team needs to clear a spot. Finally, a player may be released in some cases simply for the sake of it. As a designated player, a player is immediately removed from the 40-man roster, and the club has seven days to trade him, send him outright to the minor leagues, or release him if it is unable to trade him. A designated for assignment can only be used for a maximum of seven days, whereas options have the option to be used for an entire season. In addition, a player optioned to the minors is still considered part of the 40-man roster, whereas a designated for assignment player is not. It is not uncommon for players assigned to perform an assignment not to receive payment, but this is not always the case. If a team wishes to hire a DFA’d player, they must offer him at least $500,000, which is a little more than a year and a half ago. If a new team picks up the contract amount minus his current salary, he will receive salary relief from the team that originally DFA’d him (assuming he owes the original contract amount minus his current salary).

Designate For Assignment Mlb The Show

In baseball, “designate for assignment” (or “DFA”) is a procedural move whereby a team removes a player from its 40-man roster. This can be done for a number of reasons, such as when a player is no longer needed on the roster or when he is about to be released. Once a player is designated for assignment, he can be traded, released, or outrighted to the minor leagues.

What Is The Difference Between Options And Designated For Assignment?

The following is a list of all the questions you have asked: If a player is on the 40-man roster and assigned to a minor league affiliate , he or she is considered “optioned.” An Option lasts the entire season, so you can go from one to the next, then only use one option.

What Happens When You Designate A Player For Assignment?

A designated for assignment is a contractual term used in Major League Baseball. To be removed from the 40-man roster, a player is immediately designated for assignment.

Designated For Assignment List

A designated for assignment list is a list of players who are temporarily removed from their team’s 40-man roster. These players are often sent to the minor leagues, but they can also be released or traded.

Jessy Williamson

Jess y is an avid baseball fan and writer for the popular website , Baseball Writ es . He has been writing about the sport for over five years and is passionate about sharing his knowledge and enthusiasm for the game . He is a proud supporter of his local team , the Toronto Blue Jays , and loves to explore the history and culture of the sport .

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Bits Of Baseball: What Does DFA Mean in Baseball


Fact checked by

Sean Hunter

March 2, 2023

Baseball Basics

what does dfa mean in baseball

As with other sports, baseball has a language of its own. There is a lot of jargon and lingo that you will have to know to get the most out of any baseball game. One of these terms is DFA. So, what does DFA mean in baseball?

DFA is short for Designated for Assignment and is a contractual term used in the baseball realm. Essentially, it refers to when a player is eliminated from a team’s 40-man roster and placed on waivers for other teams to claim.

You may have heard about this if you follow the Major League games and subscribe to baseball news. Most recently, renowned player Alber Pujols was designated for assignment by the Angels, stunning many fans and followers. It was a surprising announcement that prompted many people to search for the true meaning and implications of FDAs in the baseball context.

Indeed, there is plenty to know about this three-letter abbreviation. Various components complicate this notion, making it difficult for those that are outside of the baseball business to wrap their heads around.

Understanding this, we have put together a comprehensive but succinct guide for your reference. Read on to find out all about this niche topic of DFA baseball!


What Does DFA Mean in Baseball and the Technicalities Around DFA in Baseball

The reason for designated for assignments (dfas) in baseball.


To set the stage for explaining the technicalities around DFA (Designated for Assignment), here are a few short definitions of relevant baseball terms:

Now that you have a basic idea of the lingo around this topic, we can delve into the detailed explanation of DFAs in baseball.

When a baseball player’s contract is set to be designated for assignment, the player is taken off his or her current club’s 40-man roster and placed on waivers. Within three business days, any other team can claim the player. When it comes to claims, the priority goes to the league, in which the player is already a part of.

For example, if a player is in the American League, other American teams can get dips on the player. Between two or more teams that want to claim the player, the team with the lower record gets to make the pickup. If a player is claimed before July 31st, the new team can take up his or her contract and the player will be automatically added to that team’s 40-man roster, or they can work out a trade with the original team.

Another possible scenario is the original team pulling the member back and off waivers, wherein the player returns to the 40-man roster, or is put on waivers again. But, the second time, the original team cannot revoke claims and will have to either give the player’s contract up to the new team or accept a trade.

If the player is not claimed after three days, his or her fate is decided by the original team. One of the three following scenarios will occur:

1. The player is outrighted or sent to the Minor League

2. The player is released and becomes a free agent

3. The player is traded into another team

But, at this point, there are a few other quite important aspects to note as well.

If a player, in this case, refuses to be outrighted, he or she has to be returned to the 40-man roster or released as a free agent. In the latter scenario, the player can sign with other teams and clubs on his or her own. The team that released him or her will have to cover the salary the player is owed minus what he or she is offered by the new team.

When a player is on any 40-man roster, he or she will be granted three option years. Here, option means optional assignments. The player can be promoted to the Major League or demoted to the Minor League as many times as the parent club decides for three seasons.

Afterward, the player is out of options and he or she must be placed on waivers again. Once waivers are cleared, the player can be optioned back to the Minor League.

For an in-depth video explanation, watch this by Ashley MacLennan on Youtube.

DFAs happen because a team may want to open a slot on their 40-man roster for:

1. A new member to come up from the Minor League

2. A new member, by trade or free agency, to be activated in the 40-man roster

3. A player returning for activation from the injured list

Simply put, when designating players for assignments, a team is making “roster room” for someone else to join their 40-man list.


Aside from the most recent DFAed player Alber Pujols, here are some of the names that have hit the headlines following announcements of DFAs:

You may have heard of these players, especially if you are a baseball enthusiast. For more, however, go through this tracker on MLB Trade Rumors.

So, there you have it! You have finished this article featuring the full answer to: “What does DFA mean in baseball?” Enjoy baseball games on TV and the headlines in a new light now that you have been enlightened! Hopefully, you were able to pick up a lot of valuable niche information.

If you have any other follow-up questions or thoughts regarding this, do not hesitate to leave a comment. We are always ready to hear from our readers. Also, share this article with your friends and family so they can learn about FDAs in baseball!


Five years as a baseball player, my training approaches with this game give me the motivation to inspire and support young players more. Like all sports, we should start with the desire to have fun and maintain our resilience to strive better at any competition. But, of course, some of us want to have some fun and train for better health.  It does not matter what your initial purpose is; I believe that most people ever holding on to the baseball bat will fall in love with the games as I do.

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Lorenzo Cain was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers. Here's what that means.

designate for assignment in baseball

Lorenzo Cain was designated for assignment by the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday before  the team's game against the Cincinnati Reds on the day he reached 10 years of MLB service.

What does designated for assignment mean and why is that milestone significant for the veteran centerfielder? 

Here's what you should know.

What does designated for assignment mean?

According to Major League Baseball , a player is removed from the 40-man roster when the player's contract is designated for assignment.

The player can be traded or be completely waived within seven days of the DFA.

If the player is claimed by another team, he can be optioned to the minor leagues or assigned to their 26-man roster. A player could reject the minor-league assignment and enter free agency based on service time, for example.

What's next for Cain?

He could retire, which is something he already said was a strong possibility after the season, or another team could sign him after he clears waivers. Cain told reporters in Cincinnati he would take a couple days to decide what his plans will be. 

Why did the Brewers designate Cain for assignment?

Cain said "it was time" and that the decision was mutual as he acknowledged he wasn't producing to his standards. Teams designate players to open a spot on their 40-man roster and usually add a new player.

The Brewers did just that with the addition of outfielder Jonathan Davis from Class AAA Nashville.

Who is Jonathan Davis ?

Davis is 30 years old and was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013 in the 15th round. He has spent most of his career in the minors but made his MLB debut in 2018 with the Blue Jays.

He was claimed off waivers by the Yankees during the 2021 season.

This was his first season in the Brewers organization.

With the Nashville Sounds, he was batting .297, .408 OBP, .426 OPS, with 44 hits, three home runs, 18 RBI in 148 at-bats across 38 games.

He has played 134 total games in the majors with a .171 average,.272. OBP and .520 OPS.

Did MLB's 10-year pension rule have something to do with Cain being designated for assignment today?

Yes. The Brewers waited until Saturday to DFA Cain because he reached 10 years of service. 

When a player reaches that milestone, he becomes fully vested in the MLB Players Association pension. It guarantees a minimum of $68,000 a year for retired players and up to $220,000 if they wait until they’re 62.

How old is Cain?

Cain is 36 years old.

What was Cain's contract?

This was the final year of the contract Cain signed before the 2018 season. 

He signed a five-year deal worth $80 million, the largest the club had extended to a player . The Brewers signed Cain on the same day the team made the huge trade for Christian Yelich.

What were Cain's stats with the Brewers in 2022?

In 145 at-bats in 2022, Cain had a .179 average, .231 OBP and .465 OPS. He had 26 hits, one home run, nine RBI and two SB. 

What are Cain's career stats?

For his career, he has hit .283 with a .343 OBP and .750 OPS. He has 1,220 hits, 87 home runs, 454 RBI and 190 SB.

In 2018, the year in which he finished seventh in NL MVP voting, he batted .308, .395 and .812 and played in 141 games. He played in 148 games the following year, but in 2020, after five games he opted out the rest of the season during the pandemic-shortened year.

Cain returned in 2021 but injuries plagued him as he only played in 78 games and batted .257, .329 and .730.

Cain started his career with the Brewers

The Brewers drafted Cain in 2004 out of  Tallahassee Community College. He made his major-league debut in 2010 and was traded to the Kansas City Royals that December. He won a World Series with the Royals in 2015.

Cain won a Gold Glove with the Brewers

Cain for years was known as one of the best outfielders in the game and his home-run stealing grabs were must-see. He was finally rewarded with a Gold Glove in 2019.

Here is one of the most memorable catches (the 2019 season opener against the Cardinals to take away a home run in the ninth inning that ended the game).

Contact Christopher Kuhagen at 262-446-6634 or at  [email protected] . Follow him on Twitter at @ckuhagen  and our newsroom Instagram accounts at MyCommunityNow and Lake Country Now .


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