The Houston Astros have won the World Series, and with that, the MLB offseason officially begins. Between qualifying offer deadlines, the MLB Winter Meetings and accompanying Rule 5 draft, and arbitration deadlines there are tons of important dates during baseball’s busy offseason. To help keep track of all of them we put together this list of what to mark on your calendar, and why.
November 2 – Free Agency begins
Players used to have to file for free agency. However, that is no longer the case under the new CBA, and all players eligible for free agency are declared free agents at 7 a.m. MT. But those players are not eligible to negotiate with any team besides their former one for five days during the defined quiet period.
November 6 – Qualifying offer Tender Deadline
Teams have till 3 p.m. MT to tender their free agents with a qualifying offer of $17.4M. Any free agent who has previously been tendered a qualifying offer in their career is not eligible to be tendered again. Also any team that was acquired midseason is not eligible.
November 13-16 – MLB GM Meetings
While not as well-known or active as the winter meetings that happen a month later, a lot of trades can trace their roots back to this set of meetings where all of the GMs get together to discuss things like possible rule changes.
November 16 – Deadline to accept or reject a qualifying offer
Players have 10 days to either accept or reject a qualifying offer from their former team. Most announcement come days before the deadline, but if a player want to drag it out, they have till 3 p.m. MT to make their decision.
November 20 – Reserve Deadline
This is a big one. Teams have to finalize their 40-man roster ahead of the Rule 5 draft. If teams want to protect an eligible prospect from the draft, they have to be on the team’s 40-man roster by this day. Teams also have to set all of their MiLB rosters to ensure that they’re not stacking players.
December 1 – Non-tender Deadline
Teams have to tender their pre-arbitration and arbitration players by this day. If a team does not wish to go through the arbitration process with a player they will non-tender them and the player will become a free agent.
December 10-14 – Winter Meetings
The most exciting week of the offseason is usually during the winter meetings. Having all of the teams and agents in the same hotel for a week usually results in lots of deals being completed. This year’s winter meetings are at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Florida.
December 14 – Rule 5 Draft
The last day of the winter meetings is also the Rule 5 Draft.
January 9 – Salary arbitration filing deadline
Arbitration eligible players must file for arbitration by this day. Every player who is eligible will file, so there’s not a lot of drama on this day.
January 12 – Salary arbitration figures exchanged
This is the more important date, as both the player and the team have to exchange their arbitration figures. If the two parties can’t reach an agreement before this day, the arbitrator will have to choose one of these two figures. For teams that follow the file-and-trial approach this date carries even more weight as negotiations will end on this date.
January 29 – February 16 - Salary arbitration hearings
If the two parties can’t reach an agreement the arbitration hearing will be scheduled between these two dates and the cases will be heard in Phoenix, Arizona.
March 29 - MLB Opening Day
The single most exciting day of the offseason is the day when it’s finally over.