What does DFA mean in Baseball? Expert Explanation in 2022

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Like every other sport, Baseball has its vocabulary. There are a lot of specific terms in the Baseball game. After knowing these terms, a person can claim to have some sort of knowledge about Baseball. One such term is DFA, it stands for “Designated for assignment”. Let’s dig out deeply to get the answer of What does DFA mean in Baseball?

If you follow the game of Baseball then you must have heard this term. It’s a long and confusing phrase but the process is quite simple.


What does DFA mean in Baseball?

Designated for assignment shortly known as DFA is defined as an approach in which one player is removed from the roster of a 40-man team. That player is placed on the waivers list so that other teams can claim. DFAS is quite different from out-and-out release due to the limit of seven days.

Some terms should be explained before a detailed explanation of DFA.

Some specific terms that are involved in the Designated for assignment approach are waivers and the team’s Roaster of 40-man. Let’s discuss these to better understand the concept of DFA.

What does DFA

A roster of 40-man

Any major League Baseball (MLB) team has 40 players on its roster. Out of 40 players, 25 are active ones. Other players are contracted ones but they are on the injured list or they fill other spots in the minor league system of the team.



Waivers refer to the special authority granted for the assignment of player contracts in the special case of unconditional release from major league Baseball. It is placed on the Baseball players, clubs and the teams can claim the players.


What does DFA


The reason for Designated for assignment (DFAs) in Baseball

The reason for DFA is to give facility to the teams to open a slot for their 40-man roster. A new member of the team may come up from the three different scenarios.

  • A new member of the team can be from the minor league.
  • A new member can come up by the trading method or free agency method and a slot can be activated in the 40-man roster.
  • A player can return from the injured list for activation.

In simple terms, by using the Designated for assignment approach, a Baseball team is creating ‘roster room’ for another player to join the team because of their team’s needs.


Why is it called Designated for assignment?

This is quite an interesting question. Learning about what does DFA mean in Baseball is another thing but one question that could come to mind of a Baseball fan that why it is called Designated for assignment.

When DFA is applied to a player, the Baseball team will have five options: releasing the player, trading the player, returning the player, placement the player on waivers, or outrighting the player. The decision must be taken within the deadline of seven days. This is a pretty big assignment as it has a huge impact on the team’s performance in the season and that’s why this process gets the name, Designated for assignment.

As in Major league Baseball (MLB), during the DFA process, there are a lot of people involved, millions of dollars involved, and a team can get or lose a valuable skillful player, so it is a pretty important assignment.

What does DFA

Example of how this works

For example, a player is designated for assignment from the team Astros. Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland are interested in having that player on their team. As by definition of DFA, a player is on the waivers, so Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland teams have the chance to add a player from Astros to their roster of 40-man. There is a condition for doing this as it has to be done within the timeline of the waiver.

DFA provides the luxury of different possible options to the teams after removing a player from their roster of 40-man. These possible options also include they retain control of players’ contracts. It’s not like the player goes straightway to the free agency, the player can be brought back to the roster at some different point.


What does it mean to option a Baseball player?

The ‘option’ here is directly related to the Minor leagues. An option grants the license that a player can be sent to the Minor Leagues (it is optioned), without going to the waivers list. This enables the player to be removed from the roster of the active 26-man roster, but the player retains on the team’s roster of 40-man.

Usually, it is heard that a player is optioned to the minor leagues. This sentence means depending on the skill of the players, a ball club sent players to the minor league.

When a player is on the 40-man roster, he or she will be allowed three option years. Here option refers to the optional assignments. There is the possibility that the player can be demoted to the minor league or promoted to the major league. This depends on the decision of the parent club for the three seasons.


But a player who has acquired less than full five seasons in both major league and the minor league can be eligible for a fourth year if all three option years have been used.

Players earn a full season if they spend at least 90 days in a given season including the active roster of the major league or the minor league and the injured days.


After this option period, a player is out of the options and he or she will be on the waivers once again. After clearing waivers, he or she can be optioned back to the minor league.

What does DFA

What happens when an MLB player is released?

To answer this question, we must first know the “release”. A “release” is completely different from the Designated for Assignment (DFA) as a player cuts from the team in the release. A release is the clearing of connections between the ball club and the player.

Usually, the release of players happened in the offseason by the Major league Baseball teams. Because by the start of spring training, teams of major league Baseball start thinking and organizing what players will be on the roster for their club.

The decision on the team’s 40-man roster needs a lot of important things to consider before finalizing the decision. Because they have to look deeply at the players’ skill, whether he/she can perform throughout the season or not.

They must address certain issues and find the answers to some critical questions during the process of decision-making. Teams who eagerly want to have a successful season should take of the issues including but not limited to:

  • Eligibility of the player as far as optioning to the minor leagues is concerned.
  • Depending on the eligibility metric of a player, is he or she properly fit to the 40-man roster not only the 26-man roster.
  • What value a player can add to the team like adding home runs.


What does DFA

Conclusion on DFA

Now, you have got the answer to What does DFA mean in Baseball quite comprehensively. As it is the right of any Baseball fan to understand this term deeply and we have just provided a thorough article on this. This piece of writing also helps the fans to understand the complexity of running a Major league Baseball (MLB) team.

There are a lot of important things that one team’s administration should think about when performing the designated for assignment (DFA) for a player, every Baseball fan should know it.

DFA refers to a technique by which a team can release its player and another team can pick it up in their 40-man roster. But this whole process involves quite a lot of persons, money, and most importantly focus as it has a huge impact on the team’s success in the season.


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