2017-18 MLB Offseason: Free agents, Winter Meetings, Key Dates
The World Series might just have ended, and we can still hear Houston Astros fans celebrating their first franchise title, but with the culmination of the Fall Classic, hot stove begins. So gather round and keep warm this off-season as we take you through the important dates you need to remember and explain some of the terminologies to more casual fans.
What’s Happened So Far
After the World Series, on Nov. 2, all eligible players automatically became free agents. It’s always an exciting time, but can be stressful if it means the beginning of seeing a veteran player go elsewhere.
Nov. 4 - Contract options are due. This means that players can opt-out of their current on-going contracts and enter free agency. Among the players who were able to opt-out this season, Justin Upton renegotiated his contract and will stay with the Angels, Masahiro Tanaka will stay with the Yankees, Ian Kennedy will stay with the Royals, but Greg Holland declined and will become a free agent.
Nov 6 – Qualifying offers of $17.4 million to all eligible free agents were made. To be eligible, you needed to be with the team throughout 2017, currently be a free agent, and have not received it in previous season, For example Eric Hosmer and Wade Davis are eligible, but Yu Darvish and J.D Martinez are not. Also on Nov. 6, finalists were announced for MVPs, the Cy Young award, and Rookies and Managers of the year.
Nov. 7 - Free agency negotiations officially begin. It also gave us the winners of the Golden Glove award. Among the winners, Alex Gordon and Nolen Arenado both won their 5th Golden Glove.
Nov. 13 - Players’ decision on their teams’ qualifying offer is due. If they take it, they’ll be on a one year contract worth $17.4 million. If not, the player is tied to draft pick compensation. Winners are announced for the main awards at this time as well, until the 16th.
Rookie of the Year went to Aaron Judge in the American League and Cody Bellinger in the National League. Paul Molitor of the Twins and Torey Lovullo of the D-Backs won Managers of the Year. The Cy Young went to Max Scherzer of the Nationals and Corey Kluber of the Indians. Finally, the MVP award went to Jose Altuve and Giancarlo Stanton.
The GM meetings in Orlando also took place over this time.
Nov. 20 - Rule 5 Draft eligible prospects added to the 40-man roster. This gives them the chance to be drafted to the 25-man roster, but more on that later. To be eligible for this, prospects much have been drafted out of high school in 2013, college in 2014, or signed as an international free agent in 2013. Gleyber Torres of the Yankees and Eloy Jimenez of the White Sox are eligible for the Draft this season.
Important Dates From December To Season Opener
Dec. 1 - Non-tender deadline. Look for a ton of new free agents on this day. Why? Well if management doesn’t see an unsigned arbitration-eligible player fit for a contract offer, due to performance or injury issues, they will non-tender them.
Dec. 10-14 - Sees the biggest event of the off-season, and where the term hot stove was born, the Winter Meetings. Everyone in the baseball industry meets up in Orlando. Deals are made, free agents are signed, and tons of cash is thrown around. We’ll be covering these more in-depth later, so look be sure to join us here for that!
The Winter Meetings culminate with the Rule 5 Draft which gives eligible Minor League players the chance to be on the team’s main roster next season. While rare, it’s getting more common for Rule 5 Draftees to become superstars now. Josh Hamilton and Johan Santana were a result of the draft, and in just the past couple of years, Joe Biagini, Matt Bowman, and Luis Perdomo were products of Rule 5.
Jan. 13 - is the deadline for players and teams to come to salary agreement, although some can continue beyond this date.
Jan. 24 - is when the inductees for the Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced. It’s speculated that Trevor Hoffman and Vladimir Guerrero will be inducted this year. Names must appear on 75% of ballots to be able to enter Hall.
Early February - Dreaded arbitration hearings. With Spring Training just around the corner, arbitration is a must for players who haven’t worked out a contract yet. While it can get messy, it’s inevitable at this point, but most players don’t get to this point. A three person panel decided whether the player deserves his demanded salary or the counter offer by the team.
Mid to late February - It’s the time of year every baseball fan waits for so patiently. Spring Training begins! A month of preseason baseball starts as the players warm up for the season in the Cactus and Grapefruit leagues. Managers test out their pitchers and get a feel for their teams again.
Mar. 29 - OPENING DAY! What’s more, all 30 teams will play on this day. Not only do we get an early season start, but your favorite teams will definitely be playing. With the offseason as the perfect buildup, March 29th can’t come soon enough. And we’ll be here to guide you through the 2018 season!
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