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Once a player is added to a team's 40-man roster, they have three "option years" - players with option years remaining can be sent down to the minor leagues at no penalty. Once the option years expire, players must be "designated for assignment" if a team wants to send them to the minors, which removes them from the 40-man roster and places them on irrevocable waivers.

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Q: What is the difference between designated for assignment and optioned for a player in baseball?
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