MLB Roster Rules
Major League Roster Size
Major-league rosters may include 40 players until Opening Day, when the number must be reduced to 25. The number increases back to 40 on Sept. 1. The minimum number of active players that must be maintained by each club throughout the season is 24.
The trading deadline is July 31. Trades may be made with any major-league club in the period from the end of the season through midnight July 31 without waivers. After July 31, a player must clear through waivers on all other teams before his contract can be assigned to another major-league club.
If a player placed on major-league waivers is not claimed by another team within two business days after waivers have been requested, then the player has "cleared waivers," and the team has secured waivers for the remainder of the waiver period. The team can then do one of three things:
1. Send him to the minors.
2. Trade him to another team, even if the trading deadline has passed.
3. Do nothing at all.
Any trades involving a 40-man-roster player from July 31 to the end of the season may involve only players who have cleared major-league waivers. If a player does not clear waivers (he is claimed by one or more other teams) the club requesting waivers may withdraw the waiver request. If the club does not withdraw the waiver request, the player's contract is assigned as follows:
1. If only one claim is entered, the player's contract is assigned to the claiming club.
2. If more than one club in the same league make claims, the club lower in the current standings gets the player.
3. If clubs in both leagues claim the player, preference shall always go to the club in the same league as the club requesting waivers.
There are two disabled lists, 15-day and 60-day. Players may be disabled retroactively, up to a maximum of 10 days, beginning with the day after the last day they played. A player on the 15-day DL may be shifted to the 60-day DL at any time. Players may be assigned to a minor-league club for injury rehabilitation for a maximum of 20 days (30 days for pitchers).
15-day: There is no limit on the number of players per club.
60-day: There is no limit on the number of players per club, but it may be used only when a club is at the maximum of 40 players. Players carried on this list do not count against a club's control limit of 40 players. If a player is transferred to this list after Aug. 1, he must remain through the end of the season and postseason.
When a player is on a major-league club's 40-man roster and in the minor leagues, he is on "optional assignment." Players have three options and may be sent up and down as many times as the club chooses within those seasons but will be charged with only one option per season. When a player is "out of options," it means he has been on a 40-man roster during at least three different seasons and in his fourth pro season or later, he will have to clear irrevocable waivers in order to be sent down.
Designation For Assignment
This rule allows a club to open a roster spot for up to 10 days while waiting for a player to clear waivers.
Promotion From Minors
If a player is already on the 40-man roster, but in the minors, he is "recalled." If he is in the farm system, but not on the 40-man roster, then his contract is purchased from the minor-league team. A player must be added to the 40-man roster when his contract is purchased.
Six years of major-league service are required to be eligible for free agency. A player has 15 days from the first day after the World Series to file for free agency.
By Dec. 7, a player's former club must offer to arbitrate or it becomes ineligible to sign the player. By Dec. 19, the player must accept the club's offer or on Jan. 9, the former club becomes ineligible to sign the player.
Six-year Free Agents: Such a player is eligible for free agency if he has played all or part of seven seasons in the major leagues or minor leagues and is not placed on a major-league team's 40-man roster as of Oct. 15.
Three years of major-league service are required for eligibility. A player with at least two years but less than three years of major-league service will also be eligible if he ranks in the top 17 percent in total service in the class of players who have at least two but less than three years of major-league service, however accumulated, but with at least 86 days of service accumulated during the immediately preceding season.
Rule 5 Draft
A player not on a major-league 40-man roster as of Nov. 20 is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if:
1. The player was 18 or younger when he first signed a pro contract and this is the fourth Rule 5 draft since he signed.
2. The player was 19 or older when he first signed a pro contract and this is the third Rule 5 draft since he signed.
A player drafted must remain on the 25-man roster of his new team throughout the following season or be offered back to the team that lost him for half the claiming price.
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