Below is the second of five articles I will be writing early in the offseason concisely laying out exactly what is going to be happening in the organization during the offseason, and when. This second section will detail with the offseason meetings schedule.
Part One: Free Agency
As discussed last time, the first major offseason activity will be the declaration of free agency by our eligible players in both the major and minor leagues, with the primary issues until then being negotiation with your own pending free agents and determining whether or not to offer them arbitration. After that, the procedure switches to two new objectives: scanning the free agent market and protecting Rule 5 draft eligibles. The first of those to will be discussed here, with the second coming next time.
Though free agents are allowed to sign with any team as soon as they declare 5 days after the World Series ends, the majority of FA signings will not occur immediately. It takes time for communication during the offseason to build up. The facilitation of this communication is splintered into three main offseason conventions that all occur in November-early December before the holiday break. I am of course speaking about the Owners' Meetings, GM Meetings and Winter Meetings.
The GM and Owner meetings take place together in Orlando, Florida from November 16th-18th. This convention gives the team overlords a chance to network about their ideas, inquire about other teams' players and to share thoughts on the upcoming season. It is fair to say that the majority of the talk here will be related to offseason trades rather than free agency. O'Dowd's priority at these meetings will likely be to explore the trade market for acquirable right handed bats, and get a sense of who other teams have made available and for what price. You can bet that Zack Greinke is going to be amongst the main subjects discussed at these conferences. These meetings also occur just before the Arbitration Offer deadline for outgoing free agents on November 23rd, giving the owners and GMs a chance to pick the brains of their peers regarding who will be getting those offers.
A few weeks later come the Winter Meetings, which many people consider to be the "true start of the offseason". Taking place December 6th-9th in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, the largest MLB convention of the year occurs. Everybody from GMs to agents to scouts shows up here, ready to engage in a mad scramble of free agent signings and trade talks left unresolved from the previous meetings. Nearly every year, a couple of major signings or trades occur at the meetings, giving the Winter Meetings a reputation for starting a chain of important signings and other news.
The Winter Meetings end with the Rule 5 Draft (to be discussed in detail in the next edition), wherein teams without full 40 man rosters after the tender deadline (Dec. 2) may select minor league players from other organizations to be added to their active roster. The Rule 5 Draft and any follow up deals to the Winter Meetings discussions mark the end of 2010 for Major League Baseball, as everyone immediately goes on vacation until January (though that's not to say teams aren't still active during this time... transactions can still be made all year).
Next week, I will be covering the Rule 5 Draft and the reserves deadline, providing a list of available Rule 5 picks in the organization.
If there is any further information you would like to clarify or expand upon part of this article, let me know in the comments or by e-mail. Thanks.