In case you missed it, baseball season is over. The Nationals beat the Astros in game 7 of the world series. Now the fun really starts. The Hot Stove league. However, there is more to it than that.
First up, players have to announce their intentions for contract options. They decide to come back on the same deal or opt out. That is taking place as this is being written. Lots of names could go from one side or the other today. The Teams also have until today to decide on their team options. Mostly more money than player options, but not always. Not every contract has them. But to put it simply, if play A opts out he is a free agent. If Team A opts out of player A they are a free agent. Opting in, they stay with the team. That was the easy part.
Today is also the last day for teams to offer a qualifying offer (Q.O.). What is that? Well it goes like this. Player A is now a free agent from Team A. Team A offers 1 year deal worth the top 125 average contract (around 17.1 M according to MLB.com) and then the player decided to take it or stay a free agent with in 10 days. This is different than a longer team deal. That comes later. The Q.O. will give the player a choice to stay or go., If he goes, Team A get a pick in the MLB Draft after the first round and Team B signs player A but loses one or more draft picks. The Draft is in June. Season starts in late March. Am I the only one that see a huge problem? No, just me. Cool, thanks MLB.
So now it’s free agency right? Yes and no. Teams could go after players as soon as they are free agents. At this point the player are waiting on awards to know if they have more worth now then a week ago. Gold Gloves, Silver Slugger, MVPs, excreta, excreta, excreta all mean more money. That wraps up on November 21th.
Now player start signing right, not really. First is the non-tender deadline for player eligible for arbitration. Player A is out playing his current contract and wants more money with the team A. If they can’t agree to a figure, a third party comes in to decide. Most of the time deals get done here. One to three a year make it all the way. But, this is all still in house players. Free agents are still outside looking in.
December 9th. Did you hear that? That was the cook on a chuck wagon with a metal stick beating the heck out of a triangle yelling Come and Get it! Winter meetings. The only two things that will slow it down this year are the beautiful weather in San Diego and those Q.O.s earlier. GMs will really have to really want Player A to lose the cash AND picks.
Long story short, December 9th to the 12th and the day after the June Draft are when things get going.