What Is the Paternity and Bereavement List in Baseball?

Michael Claunch

Professional baseball players sacrifice a large portion of their private lives to be with the team and contribute to its success. Staying in perfect shape requires constant practice, while players who spend a lot of time together tend to perform better on the field. Still, players sometimes have to miss time due to various reasons, including personal issues that require their undivided attention or prevent them from fully focusing on the game.

Teams support their players during important life moments, and there are formal rules for allowing them some time to handle family emergencies. To provide a fair framework that all teams can follow, MLB instituted the paternity and medical emergency/bereavement lists, clearly defining the conditions for adding or removing players. This introduces some clarity and gives players more space to balance between personal and professional obligations.

What is the paternity list in baseball and how it works?

The main purpose of the MLB paternity list is to allow players to visit their families when a new child is born. The request to join the paternity list can only be granted right ahead of the scheduled delivery or immediately after the birth, as this is considered the most critical time for the father to be present. The player in question is allowed to leave the team and spend some time with his wife and child before returning to play. This benefit was first introduced to the major leagues in 2011 and has been enthusiastically embraced by eligible players.

In case you are wondering how long MLB paternity leave is, the duration of absence is very brief. The player is expected to rejoin the squad within 24 to 72 hours after leaving, so he can only miss a few games at the maximum. The player will typically be in contact with team management and try to catch the team in the most convenient location upon his return. Since in some cases there is a real need to extend the absence beyond the 3-day limit, players whose family members experience complications after birth could apply for a transfer to the medical emergency list.

What is the bereavement list in baseball and who can join it?

Another type of absence is granted to players whose family members are going through an acute medical crisis or have recently passed away. Such players are officially added to the family emergency list and permitted to temporarily leave the team to attend to the urgent matter. Also known as the bereavement list or the compassionate list, this option was adopted by the MLB in 2003 as another way to support the well-being and emotional stability of the most important contributors to the game.

Players who are added to this list can be absent between three and seven days and are allowed to travel abroad if needed. To qualify for this absence, the player must cite a valid reason that includes a serious health-related situation with a close family member.

Players on the bereavement list in the MLB can be expected to miss several games, so the impact of their absence on team performance can be substantial. Despite this fact, teams won’t argue against star players taking leave as it’s better to let them deal with the matter and return when they are feeling ready to compete.

Do players on paternity or bereavement leave count against roster limits?

Hardcore fans are primarily interested in what is the impact of the paternity and bereavement list in baseball on the short-term composition of team rosters. These transactions are considered to create only temporary changes and are treated as such by the league. Players placed on either of these two lists don’t count against the active 26-man roster, which is why they are frequently replaced by a minor league call-up. This allows teams to always have enough players ready to appear in a game without having to cut any of the absent players.

On the other hand, players on bereavement or paternity leave still count against the full 40-person roster as well as the reserve list. A team can move the player back into the active lineup whenever he returns from the leave, even if he hasn’t used up the maximum time allowed. There is no need to specify the projected length of absence in advance, as the only condition is the upper limit of three days for the paternity list, or seven days for the bereavement list. Such flexible rules allow both the players and their teams to have enough flexibility to make even the most difficult situations manageable.

Are players paid while they are absent for personal reasons?

Any player that is placed on either paternity or bereavement list in MLB during any point of the regular season or post-season receives his normal pay based on the contract he signed. Much like injured players, those who were granted leave for personal reasons are considered to be in full compliance with the terms of their contracts and are not penalized in any way. Players on these lists also continue to collect MLB service time, which is an important aspect of the paternity and bereavement list in baseball and can be decisive for determining their contract status and certain benefits at the end of the season.

Since they are fully protected in every sense, players have no incentive to attempt to play when psychologically disadvantaged and can instead turn their attention to solving the issues that are weighing heavy on their minds. For this to be possible, a player has to clearly communicate his reasons for the absence to the team. The procedure is simple but has to be honored, so players are not allowed to impulsively leave the team without notifying anyone. Permission for a legitimate case of childbirth or death in the family is granted almost automatically, but teams remain careful not to open a back door that can be abused by players who just feel like taking a short break.

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