Rays News

Explaining 40-Man Roster, Rule 5 Draft and DFAs

By Seth Carter
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 08: Colin Poche #38 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 08, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 08: Colin Poche #38 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 08, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /
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ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 08: Colin Poche #38 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 08, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
ST PETERSBURG, FLORIDA – OCTOBER 08: Colin Poche #38 of the Tampa Bay Rays delivers the pitch against the Houston Astros during the seventh inning in game four of the American League Division Series at Tropicana Field on October 08, 2019 in St Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images) /

Ahead of the deadline to set 40-man rosters, the Rays traded two and added five to the 40-man roster…But, what is the 40-man roster?

Major League Baseball is a complex business operation. It is okay if you don’t know all the nuances of the business of baseball. At the end of the day, we are all here to watch the game of baseball being played at the highest level. So, just in case you need a rundown of how the 40-man roster, Rule 5 Draft, and designation for assignment works, Rays Colored Glasses is here for you.

Prerequisite for Promotion

Let’s start with the 25-man roster. You know that one, there are 25 players per Major League Roster. In order to be added to the 25-man roster with the rest of the big boys, a player must be on the 40-man roster.

Benefits to the Player

When a player is placed on the 40-man roster their roster spot comes with some guarantees. Their option years kick in, limiting the number of times a Major League club can send the player down to the Minors without going through waivers. Once the three option years are expired, the player goes through waivers. The 40-man roster is comprised of the 25 players on the Major League roster and the remaining 15 are eligible to be called up at any point during the season. If a Minor League player is on the 40-man roster, they are being protected from the Rule 5 Draft (more on that later) and are acting as a reserve option in case of injury/poor performance.

Designation for Assignment

If a player has to be on the 40-man roster to be promoted to the 25-man roster, then how do we call people up during the season that were not on the 40-man roster? This is where the term “select the contract” comes into play. You will see the news that the Rays selected the contract of player X. This means they are purchasing a non-40-man roster, Minor League player’s contract. The player must be on the 40-man roster to play in the Majors. In order to add this player to the 40-man roster the team has to remove someone else. When a player is removed from the 40-man roster this is called being designated for assignment or DFA’d.

The player will then either be traded or placed on outright waivers. Outright waivers give every other team the opportunity to add the player to their 40-man rosters, and they assume the player’s contract. If the player clears waivers, they are no longer on the 40-man roster and can take a minor league assignment or be released.

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