What Does It Mean to DFA a Professional Baseball Player? It Isn't Good

Read on for the answer to this pressing question. Spoiler alert: When a team DFAs a player, it isn't good.

Melissa Willets - Author

May 30 2024, Published 11:04 a.m. ET

Jorge López #52 of the New York Mets pitches against the San Francisco Giants during the ninth inning at Citi Field on May 24, 2024
Source: Getty Images

The world of professional baseball is full of rules and regulations, like most sports. Fans get to know the ins and outs of, well, ins and outs, but when it comes to certain terminology, we are still left a little puzzled.

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One term you may have heard is DFA, or designated for assignment. What does this status mean for Major League Baseball players?

Read on for the answer to this pressing question. Spoiler alert: When a team DFAs a player, it isn't good.

Tim Collins #55 of the Washington Nationals pitches against the San Francisco Giants at Nationals Park on June 8, 2018
Source: Getty Images
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So, what does it mean to DFA a baseball player?

According to the MLB rules, a team will assign a player as DFA, or designated for assignment, and basically sentence him to immediate removal from the roster.

Then, within seven days, the player will either be traded or released.

"If the player is claimed off 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," the explanation goes on to say.

As fans know, there are 40 men on an MLB roster, with 26 being active.

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The bottom line is that often, a DFA is issued as a disciplinary measure, like in the case of New York Mets player Jorge Lopez, who in May 2024 threw his glove into the stands and then dissed his baseball club in no uncertain terms.

According to USA Today, as a result of the cringey situation, the team plans to DFA Jorge.

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Being designated for assignment isn't desirable.

Another USA Today report notes that many talented MLB stars have been the subject of a DFA label, including names you will recognize like Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Alex Rodriguez, and Manny Ramirez. Nelson Cruz, Robinson Cano, and Justin Upton have also been designated for assignment in the past.

Getting a DFA doesn't mean a player's career is over, because he can be picked up by another team. But sometimes, a DFA does equal the demise of the player's MLB aspirations.

Either way, it's basically akin to striking out. Majorly.

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