Well the 2016 MLB season is officially complete. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians battled it out in an all-time classic game seven of the World Series that saw the Cubs come out on top in 10 innings. That means it is time for baseball’s second season, also known as the offseason. Time for trade rumors to fly around, free agents to find new homes, qualifying offers to be rejected and a ton of speculation by baseball fans just like you and me.
With the conclusion of every season, MLB fans want to know, when does free agency start? When do teams need to extend a qualifying offer by, and how long do players have to accept or decline. Well have no fear baseball fans, here at Inscriber we have you covered. Over the next few days you will hear a lot about teams picking up or declining options, and extending qualifying offers. For example, already today there has been news on players like Jamie Garcia, Jay Bruce, Gio Gonzalez, Ryan Howard, Matt Moore, Jonathan Lucroy and Neil Walker to name a few. So now let us get to the good stuff.
As of today, November 3rd, teams are given a five-day window to negotiate with their free agents. This means any impending free agent is not officially available to the baseball world until this window closes. Not many players will sign in this time, but a handful will. It does help lay a foundation for a possible deal at times as well, which can give the current club an edge once the market opens.
Then on Monday, November 7th, there will be a deadline at 5:00 pm EST. This is the deadline for teams to decide on club options as well as extending any possible qualifying offers. Most of the option decisions will be made by this time, but there is always a handful that goes down to the end. Some teams will look to trade option players, and if the team cannot find a trade, they may decide to cut bait right at the deadline. In regards to the qualifying offer, it is valued at 17.2 million dollars this season, so that decision is going to be a little harder for teams compared to previous years. All big name free agents who were not traded during the season will get this, as the team gets draft pick compensation if the player leaves. Players like Aroldis Chapman and Mark Melancon are immune to the offer since they were traded during the 2016 season.
The next three days, November 8th through November 10th, Scottsdale, Arizona will be at the center of the baseball world. Here the GM meetings will take place. Some trades may take place here, but even if they do not, foundations will be laid for moves that will be pulled off later in the winter months. November 8th is specifically an exciting day, as this is the end of the five-day period mentioned above. Once the clock hits midnight entering this Tuesday, all free agents are eligible to sign with any team they please.
November 14th is another 5:00 pm EST deadline, but this time for the players. It is at this time players need to decide if they want to accept or decline the qualifying offers they were given. Most players typically decline the offer, but last year saw Matt Wieters and Colby Rasmus take theirs. With the tender being more than a million dollars higher this offseason, we may see a few more accept once again. Fewer players will likely get the offer for the very same reasoning, and all big name free agents who know they will get a multi-year deal will decline.
Then on December 2nd, the free agent market will grow a little bit. This is the day of the non-tender deadline. Essentially, any player who is going through the arbitration process needs to be tendered a contract for the team to keep them. If a team feels a player is not going to be worth what he will get, they can cut him loose to become a free agent. No major names will be let go here, but every year one or two names from this day will have a nice impact in the following season.
Two days later the fun starts. From December 4th through December 8th, the hot stove heats up as the Winter Meetings take place in Washington DC. All top baseball executives plus agents and reporters will be gathered in the same location for several days. Major free agent dominoes will fall. Monster trades will be made. It is essentially the best five days of the baseball offseason. You will see move after move after move over the course of these days.
Then the long wait until February when Spring Training kicks off. This is the official end of the winter in baseball terms. From there we will have baseball back, with meaningful games starting once again on Sunday, April 2nd, 2017. Until then, sit back and enjoy the rumors and offseason moves!