How is non-tender different from DFA in baseball

Do you ever find yourself confused when you hear terms like “non-tender” and “Designated for Assignment (DFA)” in the world of baseball? Roster management can be a complex and fascinating aspect of the game, and understanding these player transactions is crucial for fans and analysts alike. In this article, we will dive into the differences between non-tender and DFA in baseball and explore their significance in player transactions.

What is Non-Tender in Baseball?

In baseball, the term “non-tender” refers to the process by which a team decides not to offer a contract to a player who is eligible for arbitration. When a player is non-tendered, it means that the team is choosing not to retain the player for the upcoming season. This decision can have significant ramifications for both the player and the team.

When a player is non-tendered, it typically means that the team has determined that the cost of retaining the player through arbitration is not justified based on their performance or the team’s financial situation. Non-tendering a player allows the team to cut ties with the player and explore other options in the free-agent market.

The process of non-tendering a player involves several steps. First, teams must make a decision on whether to offer arbitration to eligible players. If a player is not offered arbitration by the team before the deadline, they become a free agent. The key dates and deadlines associated with non-tendering vary from year to year but usually fall in early December.

How Does Non-Tendering Affect Players?

When a player is non-tendered in baseball, it has a significant impact on their contracts and salaries. Being non-tendered means that the player becomes a free agent, allowing them to negotiate with any team. This gives them the opportunity to potentially secure a new contract with different terms or join a new team altogether.

Non-tendered players often face uncertainty in terms of their future contracts and salaries. They may receive offers from other teams, but these offers may be for less money or on shorter-term deals compared to what they were previously earning. The non-tendered player’s market value can be affected by a variety of factors, such as their performance, injury history, and the overall demand for their position in the market.

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Players who are non-tendered have several options available to them. They can choose to explore free agency and negotiate with other teams, hoping to secure a new contract that suits their needs. Another option is to accept a minor league contract or a non-guaranteed major league contract, which provides an opportunity to prove themselves and potentially earn a spot on a team’s roster during spring training.

What is Designated for Assignment (DFA) in Baseball?

In baseball, the term “Designated for Assignment” (DFA) refers to the process by which a team removes a player from its 40-man roster. The purpose of DFA is to create roster space for other players, whether it be for promotions, acquisitions, or other roster moves. DFA is often used when a team needs to make room for a new player but wants to keep the removed player within the organization.

It is important to note the difference between DFA and non-tendering a player. Non-tendering occurs when a team decides not to offer a contract to an arbitration-eligible player, while DFA involves removing a player from the 40-man roster. Non-tendered players become free agents, while a player who is DFA’d can be placed on waivers, traded, released, or assigned to the minor leagues.

What Happens to Players After Being Designated for Assignment?

After a player has been designated for assignment (DFA) in baseball, a series of steps follows. First, the player is removed from the team’s 40-man roster and placed on waivers. During this waiver period, other teams have the opportunity to claim the player. If a team claims the player, they must take over the player’s existing contract. If multiple teams claim the player, the team with the worst record in the same league gets priority.

If the player goes unclaimed, they may be outrighted to the minor leagues if they have minor league options remaining. This means they are removed from the 40-man roster but remain within the organization, often being assigned to a specific minor league team. However, if the player is out of minor league options, they must be designated for assignment again or placed on release waivers.

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For a player who has been designated for assignment, there are several options available. If they clear waivers and are outrighted to the minors, they can continue to play and work on improving their skills in hopes of being called back up to the major league team. Another possibility is that the player may be traded to another team if they are claimed off waivers. Additionally, the player could choose to become a free agent if they have enough service time in the league.

How Do Non-Tender and DFA Impact Team Rosters?

Both non-tendering and Designated for Assignment (DFA) have significant impacts on a team’s roster composition in baseball. Non-tendering a player results in the player becoming a free agent, which means they are no longer under contract with the team. This allows the team to remove a player from their roster and create an opening for other players, whether it be prospects or free agent signings.

On the other hand, DFA involves removing a player from the 40-man roster while keeping them within the organization. This provides the team with more flexibility as they can send the player to the minor leagues, trade them, release them, or assign them to a different role within the organization. DFA allows teams to manage their roster space efficiently and make necessary adjustments based on performance, injuries, or acquisitions.

Both non-tendering and DFA transactions create opportunities for other players within the organization. Non-tendering a player opens up a roster spot that can be filled by a younger, more promising player, or a free agent who fits the team’s needs better. DFA provides an opportunity for a player to prove themselves in the minor leagues and earn their way back to the major league team. It also allows the team to assess their options and potentially make trades or acquisitions to improve the roster.

What Are Some Examples of Non-Tender and DFA Cases in Baseball?

In recent years, there have been notable cases of non-tender and Designated for Assignment (DFA) decisions in baseball. One example is the non-tendering of Kyle Schwarber by the Chicago Cubs in 2020. Despite his potential and previous success, the Cubs decided to let him become a free agent due to financial considerations and his struggles against left-handed pitching.

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Another case is the DFA of Hanley Ramirez by the Boston Red Sox in 2018. Ramirez had been underperforming, and the team decided to remove him from the 40-man roster to create roster flexibility. This move allowed the Red Sox to call up younger players and make room for future acquisitions.

These cases illustrate the differences between non-tender and DFA. Non-tendering a player like Schwarber indicates a team’s decision to part ways with a player and let them explore opportunities with other teams. DFA, on the other hand, like in the case of Ramirez, allows the team to remove a player from the 40-man roster while keeping them within the organization, providing more options for their future.

What is non-tender in baseball? 

Non-tender refers to the decision made by a team to not offer a contract to a player, making them a free agent.

What is DFA in baseball? 

DFA, or Designated for Assignment, is when a player is removed from the 40-man roster, but remains within the organization, providing flexibility for the team.

How does non-tender differ from DFA? 

Non-tendering a player makes them a free agent, while DFA removes a player from the 40-man roster but keeps them within the organization.

Can a non-tendered player be DFA’d? 

Yes, a non-tendered player can be DFA’d if the team decides to keep them within the organization but off the 40-man roster.

Are non-tendered players more likely to become free agents? 

Yes, non-tendered players become free agents, allowing them to negotiate contracts with any team in the league, while DFA’d players remain with the team.


It’s important to grasp the disparities between non-tender and DFA in the realm of baseball. These player transactions hold significant weight for fans and analysts, as they can greatly impact players’ careers and team dynamics. By understanding the implications and strategic decisions behind non-tender and DFA, we can gain deeper insights into the ever-evolving world of baseball roster management. So the next time you hear about a player being non-tendered or designated for assignment, you’ll have a better understanding of the impact it can have on the game we love.

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