A team’s 26-man roster, also known as the “active roster,” is its full roster of active MLB players from Opening Day through Aug. 31 and during the postseason. During these periods, teams are only able to carry 13 pitchers on their 26-man roster, with the remainder having to be position players. From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular season, teams must add two additional players to increase their 26-man rosters to 28, with a limit of 14 pitchers.
In the event of a doubleheader, teams may recall one additional player from their 40-man roster to serve as the 27th active player only for that one day. Teams are also able to recall a 27th player if they are playing a previously suspended game and have another game scheduled after that, but the 27th man is only allowed to play in the regularly scheduled game that day, not the game that was postponed.
All players on the 26-man roster must also be on the team’s 40-man roster, and all players on the 26-man roster accrue Major League service time.
What Happens When an MLB Player Is Removed From the 26-Man Roster?
If a player is removed from his team’s 26-man roster, or if he does not open the season on the 26-man roster or the injured list, he must be optioned to the minor leagues. If he still has options available, this does not remove him from the 40-man roster.
Players typically have three option years, allowing them to be sent down to the minor leagues without first having to clear waivers. If a player has accrued less than five full seasons across the major and minor leagues, they will be eligible for a fourth option year, if needed. Once a player is out of options, they must be designated for assignment and passed through outright waivers before being eligible to be sent to the minor leagues, which also removes the player from the team’s 40-man roster.
Once an optioned player has spent at least 20 days in the minor leagues in a given season, he loses one of his options. Only one player option can be used per season, regardless of how many times said player is optioned to and from the minor leagues over the course of a given season.
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