Baseball, viewed by many as America’s pastime, is not only about home runs, fastballs, and nerve-wracking matches. It’s also a sport of nuanced policies and rules that cater to the heterogeneous situations that players might encounter off the field. One such provision is the “bereavement list,” a critical regulation in Major League Baseball (MLB) that addresses players’ needs during tough personal circumstances and provides them some leeway to balance their pitching, batting, or fielding duties with their familial obligations.

What is Bereavement List in Baseball

The bereavement list in baseball, especially in the Major League Baseball (MLB), is a provision that allows players to take a temporary leave from their team during the serious illness or death of an immediate family member. Immediate families, as defined by this rule, include a player’s spouse, parents, grandparents, siblings, children, or grandchildren.

This list is not just an administrative tool; it’s a humane enabler that empowers players to respond to their family’s duress without compromising their professional standing or financial stability. The player continues to accrue MLB service time and receive their salaries even when enlisted in the bereavement list, underscoring MLB’s commitment to its athletes beyond the baseball field.

Historical Background: The Introduction of Bereavement List in MLB

what is the bereavement list

The bereavement list was introduced in 2003, making it a fairly recent addition to the MLB’s field-and-front-office regulations. Before its onset, MLB, like many sports organizations, bore an unsaid expectation that athletes should compartmentalize their personal woes and remain dedicated to their teams on the field, irrespective of the severity of their personal hardships.

However, recognizing the toll this approach could take on players’ mental health and familial relationships, MLB decided to formalize a mechanism to ensure that personal emergencies don’t fall afoul of the game’s structured rigidity. Thus was born the bereavement list – a compassionate and pragmatic resolution acknowledging the personal challenges that professional baseball players may experience in their lives.

Applicability and Conditions for Bereavement List

The bereavement list applies to all players involved in Major League Baseball. The critical condition for a player to be placed in this list is that they must be experiencing a severe illness or death in their immediate family. Once this condition is verified, the player can take leave from their team, stepping out from the limelight of the ballpark to the dimmed light of their personal struggles.

Placements and Provisions of Bereavement List

The Process of Placing a Player on Bereavement List

To be placed on the bereavement list, a player must first experience a qualifying event – serious illness or death – within their immediate family. Upon such event, the team can place the player on the bereavement list following a discussion and agreement among the team officials, player, and often the player’s agent. This placement is generally announced through official channels, and a replacement is called in to fill the resultant vacancy.

Impact of the Bereavement List on the Active 26-man Roster

When a player is placed on the bereavement list, they do not count against the active 26-man roster. Instead, their spot is redirected towards the extended 40-man roster or the team’s reserve list. This provision protects the team’s playability, ensuring that they can still field a full team even when one of their key players is temporarily unavailable due to personal reasons.

Typically, a player from the team’s minor league affiliate is called up to take the place of the grief-stricken player. This temporary placement often provides opportunities for young, upcoming players to showcase their talent at the top level, thereby creating a balance of empathy and competitiveness within the larger framework of the MLB.

The Terms Regarding Duration of Being in the Bereavement List

A player can be placed on the bereavement list for a minimum of three days and a maximum of seven days. There’s no requirement for players to define the exact number of days they will be absent; the emphasis is on providing them with the time they require to negotiate their personal challenges. However, this leave should not exceed the maximum of seven days, ensuring that the team’s roster doesn’t bear the brunt of prolonged absenteeism of its playing members.

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Observations and Controversies Around Bereavement List

Bereavement List: A Perspective on Player Freedom

Most importantly, the bereavement list acknowledges players’ complex lives and personal responsibilities beyond their baseball careers. It’s a testament of the MLB’s acknowledgment that players have lives beyond their roles on the field: that they are sons and daughters, husbands and wives, fathers and mothers who need to be present for their families during testing times.

However, this player freedom provided by the bereavement list has, at times, been riddled with controversy.

Notably, there was significant speculation regarding the placement of Evan White, the first baseman for the Seattle Mariners, on the bereavement list. The timing of his listing coincided with the team’s acquisition of Jacob Nottingham, raising questions about whether White’s placement on the list was intended to make room for Nottingham.

Such instances underline that while the bereavement list is framed to respect players’ personal circumstances, it is not immune to conjectures, often depicting the tensions between players’ personal exigencies and structural constraints of professional baseball.

Practical Implications of Bereavement List in MLB

Bereavement Leave Duration in MLB

The duration of bereavement leave in the MLB ranges from three to seven days. This means that when a player is placed on the bereavement list, they can take leave from their baseball duties for three to seven days at a time. This leave applies to both regular and post-season games, encapsulating the critical stages of the baseball calendar and ensuring players’ wellbeing at all points in their professional journey.

Ensuing Arrangements Following a Player’s Absence Due to Bereavement List

Upon a player’s return from the bereavement leave, they are generally reintegrated into the team without any significant hiccups. Given that their placement on the list has been temporary and does not reflect their abilities or performances, their rejoining usually resumes their previously held role on the team.

Meanwhile, the temporary replacement player, usually called up from the minor league, is generally returned to their original position. This ebb and flow of players ensure that the team maintains its strength and scope while providing its players with the flexibility they require to fulfill their familial responsibilities.

Overview of Other Significant Lists in MLB

Understanding the MLB Paternity List and Its Provisions

The MLB paternity list is another significant provision in the MLB. Implemented in the 2011 season, this list allows players to be present during the birth of their child. It provides the player with an off-the-field time of 24 to 72 hours to share the joy of welcoming a new family member.

Notably, if complications occur during delivery, the player can transfer from the paternity list to the bereavement list. This transfer allows the player to avail of the maximum seven-day leave limit, indicating the sport’s institutional commitment to accommodate players’ real-life situations and challenges.

Decoding the MLB Waiver List and How It Operates

The MLB waiver list is radically different from the bereavement list. The waiver list is a daily listing of players who can be claimed or traded by any of the other 29 MLB teams. A team can list up to seven of their players on the waiver list, where they remain for 47 hours.

While the bereavement list focuses on players’ personal circumstances, the waiver list forms part of MLB’s complex transfer mechanism. It helps manage player movement and team composition, ensuring competitive balance and dynamic challenge across the league’s member teams.

Role and Purpose of the MLB Options Tracker

Another essential component of the MLB’s operations is the options tracker. This mechanism allows teams to remove players from their active 26-man roster and send them down to the minor leagues.

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Such “options” typically happen when a player’s performance is not up to par, or there is a need for strategic realignments within the team. While the premise of these options is largely performance-related, similar to the bereavement list, understanding how the options tracker works provides a fuller picture of the complexities and considerations that come with a professional baseball career.

The Role of Bereavement List in Player Welfare and Support

Bereavement List: Bridging Personal Challenges and Professional Commitments

The bereavement list serves as a vital bridge between players’ personal struggles and professional commitments in the MLB. By allowing players to temporarily step away from their professional obligations during personal crises, this list underscores the importance of addressing personal issues concurrently with professional duties.

Essentially, this list reinforces the undiluted reality that players, just like others, can face debilitating personal issues, and sometimes they need time off to heal. In this sense, the bereavement list is more than just a rule; it’s about MLB’s sincerity in acknowledging and responding to the trials and tribulations of the human experience.

How Bereavement List Contributes towards Mental Health and Stability in Baseball

Lastly, the bereavement list also matters significantly for promoting mental health and stability amongst players. By providing an avenue for players to deal with their grief, MLB enhances their chances of focusing better on the game when they return, leading to improved performances.

Thus, the bereavement list is not just about player rights and welfare. It’s also about performance – about how addressing personal issues and ensuring mental health can help players excel on the field. Ultimately, the bereavement list is about MLB’s profound recognition that its players, despite their extraordinary abilities on the field, are ordinary people off it, facing life’s tribulations like anyone else. In responding to these challenges sensitively and proactively, MLB not only upholds its players’ rights but also enhances the very spirit of the game it represents.

In conclusion, the bereavement list is a powerful testament to the multifaceted lives of MLB players and the league’s continuing efforts to ensure they receive the support they need to navigate their personal challenges. All while striving to perform at the highest level.

Major League Baseball’s Bereavement List: An Overview

Key ComponentDescription
DefinitionA list of players unable to serve due to the serious or severe illness or death of an immediate family member (spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild).
Introduction Year2003
Minimum Placement PeriodThree consecutive days
Maximum Placement PeriodSeven consecutive days
Roster ImpactThe club may replace the bereaved player on its roster. The player is not counted on the club’s active roster but is on its reserve list.
Salary and Service TimeThe player continues to receive salary and service time while on the list.

Notable Instances of the Implementation of the Bereavement List

Evan WhiteSeattle Mariners2021Death of his grandfather
Yadier MolinaSt. Louis Cardinals2012 / 2022Death of wife’s grandfather; son’s arm injury
Paternity ListAllows a player to be present during the birth of a child, granting between 24 to 72 hours off the field. Implemented in 2011.
Waiver ListDaily listing of up to seven players per team subject to transactions. Players remain on the list for 47 hours during which they may be claimed or traded.
Option TrackerAllows players to be taken off the active 26-man roster and sent to the minors. Particularly for players who have spent less time in the league.

Understanding the Bereavement List in Baseball

The bereavement list in baseball is one of those aspects that showcases the compassion in the sport and ensures its players are at peace, both on and off the field. This provision permits the players facing a family emergency to temporarily step away from their professional obligations without any penalty, hence giving human emotions and family bonds the importance they deserve amidst the high-pressure world of sports.

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Flexibility in Bereavement List Placement

One significant feature of the bereavement list is the flexibility it offers. A player can opt for a leave that ranges from a minimum of three days to a maximum of seven days. This flexibility allows players to allot time as per the severity and necessities of their personal situation. They aren’t obligated to declare their leave duration beforehand, which means they can adjust their time off as circumstances unfold, within the given parameters.

Impact on Team Composition

An interesting insight is that a player’s inclusion in the bereavement list doesn’t influence the active 26-man roster. After being moved to the bereavement list, a player comes off the active roster, thus creating a void that is usually filled by summoning a player from the team’s minor league affiliate. So, while catering to the player’s personal needs, this setup also keeps the team’s composition intact, ensuring a continuous professional flow.

Financial Stability and Career Progression

An often overlooked, and indeed commendable aspect of the bereavement list policy is its financial implications. The player on the bereavement list continues to receive their salary and accrue MLB service time – a sine qua non for career progression. This means that their financial stability or career trajectory isn’t affected despite the personal setback.

MLB’s Other Vital Lists

While the bereavement list serves during severe family emergencies, MLB offers other similarly useful lists. For instance, the ‘MLB paternity list’ allows players to be present during the birth of their child, and in case of any complications, the player can switch to the bereavement list. This level of accommodation shows MLB’s intent to prioritize their players’ personal milestones and responsibilities.


In conclusion, the bereavement list in Major League Baseball goes on to demonstrate both, the strategic wisdom with regards to team management and also the venerable respect for the player’s personal life. By no means a simple stand-in mechanism, it encompasses the very essence of empathy in professional sports – acknowledging that athletes, as human beings, need moments of solace, understanding, and time-off in challenging times, and holding still their spot under the spotlight until they’re ready to return.


⚾ What is the Bereavement List in Baseball?

The bereavement list is a special provision in baseball, particularly in Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States, that allows players to take a temporary leave from their team due to a serious or severe illness or death of an immediate family member. This includes a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, child, or grandchild. This provision was introduced in 2003.

⚾ What are the Regulations and Rules of Placement onto the Bereavement List?

A player can be placed on the bereavement list for a minimum of three consecutive days up to a maximum of seven consecutive days. Players are not required to set the exact number of absent days in advance, as long as they don’t exceed the maximum period of seven days. Being on this list does not count against the active 26-man roster and instead counts towards the extended 40-man roster or the team’s reserve list. Usually, a player from the minor league affiliate is called in to fill the vacancy.

⚾ How does the Bereavement List affect the Player’s Salary and MLB Service Time?

Even while on the bereavement list, players continue to receive their salary and accrue MLB service time. It is intended to allow professional players to attend to personal matters related to family illness or death without risking their professional standing or financial stability.

⚾ What is a Notable Observation Related to the Usage of the Bereavement List?

Although the bereavement list is intended for players to deal with personal family matters, there have been instances where its use has been speculated upon. For example, when Evan White was placed on the list it coincided with the Seattle Mariners acquiring Jacob Nottingham, leading to speculation that the Mariners used the bereavement list to make room for the new player.

⚾ What is the Duration of Bereavement Leave in MLB?

Bereavement leave in the MLB ranges from three to seven days. Therefore, when a player is listed on a baseball bereavement list, they may miss between three and seven regular or post-season games.

⚾ What other Lists are there in the MLB?

Besides the bereavement list, the MLB has other lists for various circumstances. The MLB paternity list allows players to take time off the field (24 to 72 hours) during the birth of a child. If there are complications during childbirth, the player may be transferred to the bereavement list for a maximum of seven days. The MLB waiver list and the MLB options tracker are other provisions designed for player transfers and to maintain the strength and stability of teams.

By Joseph Johnson

Joseph Johnson is the main writer on the site. He prepares up-to-date news and reviews on baseball.