It kind of feels like I need to write this article every season, and I guess I do. The rules for postseason eligibility are among the most misunderstood in baseball, and every year around this time you start seeing Twitter light up with incorrect assumptions about what can be done with certain players. 53 weeks ago, I laid out the rules to refute those who swore that Joc Pederson and Alex Guerrero had to be in the big leagues before the end of August or they couldn’t be used in the playoffs.
So with a day off today and only a week before the end of August, now seems like as good a time as any for a refresher. Quoting myself from last year:
So no matter whether or not Pederson (or anyone else) ever actually takes the field for the Dodgers this season, they can still be eligible for the playoff roster simply by being named to replace one of the eligible but injured players. The only requirement there is that the replacement player would need to be added to the 40-man roster, so if Pederson wasn’t recalled during the September roster expansion for some reason, you’d see a late DFA of someone to open up a spot.
There’s no requirement that a player be on the 25-man roster by a certain date, or the 40-man roster by a certain date. The only unbreakable rule is that a player must be in the organization by August 31, so if a waiver deal was made in September, that player would not be postseason-eligible. Otherwise, it truly doesn’t matter, because of the loophole that allows injured players to be replaced. Right now, the Dodgers have four guys on the 60-day disabled list and not likely to return: Bronson Arroyo, Carlos Frias, Hyun-jin Ryu, and Brandon McCarthy. Any player can be named to take their spots.
So if the Dodgers wanted to call up Julio Urias or Jose De Leon to make their big league debuts in the playoffs, they could do that. If they want to add Robbie Garvey or Edwin Drexler out of “baserunning camp,” they can do that too. If they want to add Jharel Cotton or Chris Anderson or Juan Jaime, all promoted to Triple-A a few days back, that’s an option.
Obviously, the question of whether the Dodgers even get to the postseason is an open question. Let’s just remember what the actual rules are about who can be with the team if they do.