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Important Dates to Remember for the 2016-2017 Offseason

As free agency kicks into full gear today, here are several dates to watch out for this offseason.

MLB: Winter Meetings Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Free agency kicks off in full today, with free agents now able to negotiate with all 30 teams on contracts for next season and beyond. This starts a five-month period leading up to the start of the 2017 season. To help prepare you for the offseason, here are some of the most important dates in the next five months.

November 7-10: General Manager meetings in Arizona

Currently ongoing in Arizona, little happens here in terms of player moves, as this is dedicated for more off-the-field issues. However, some deals do happen here, so you shouldn’t completely sleep on these meetings.

November 8: Free agency begins

As mentioned at the start, this marks the end of teams’ exclusive window to negotiate with their free agents, and they are now allowed to sign with any team they want.

November 14: Qualifying Offer Deadline

For the players that receive qualifying offers from their teams, they have under November 14 to decide if they want to take the offer or not. If they take the deal, they return to their previous team on a one-year contract at the qualifying offer rate. If not, draft pick compensation is attached to them for any team that they sign with. The Brewers have no players they made a qualifying offer to, and likely won’t sign a pick with draft pick compensation attached.

November 18: Rule 5 Deadline

This is the deadline for the Brewers to add minor-league players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. Over on BrewerFan.net, there is a complete list of players who are at risk of being taken in the Rule 5 draft. As of today, the Brewers have six spots open on the 40-man roster. They could still clear more space before the deadline, but they also don’t have to use all of those spaces for Rule 5 protection.

December 1: Collective Bargaining Agreement expires

This is an important date for this offseason. On this day, the Collective Bargaining Agreement expires if a new one hasn’t been agreed to by then. If no agreement is in place, there’s a work stoppage and next season is now at risk. The expectation is a new deal will be in place by then.

December 2: Non-tender Deadline

By this day, the Brewers have to decide if they want to tender contracts to their players with six or fewer years of service. Any players who are not tendered contracts become free agents. For those who are tendered contracts and are arbitration-eligible, they have an additional deadline later in the offseason.

December 5-8: Winter Meetings in National Harbor, Maryland & Rule 5 Draft

These will likely be the busiest four days of the offseason. All 30 teams are present for these meetings, and this is where the bulk of offseason trades, signings, and moves occur. It wraps up on Thursday with the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, the Brewers selected four players in the Rule 5 draft. They also put together the Adam Lind trade with the Mariners during these meetings, as well as the Garin Cecchini trade with the Red Sox. In addition, plenty of rumors are flying around, making it four days of excitement.

Mid-January: Deadline to file for arbitration / Exchange figures

For those players with three or more years of service, along with the players with 2 to 3 years of service in the top 20% of their group’s service time, they will be set for an arbitration hearing in February. By mid-January, players must file for arbitration and then exchange figures with their team. Each side will file an amount they think the player is worth. Many of these cases will be settled before the hearing, but if they are not, it will go to a hearing. The exact date for this will not be set until the new CBA is in place. Last season, the Brewers agreed to contracts with all three of their arbitration-eligible players (Wily Peralta, Will Smith, Jean Segura) before figures were exchanged. This offseason, eight players are eligible for arbitration.

February: Arbitration hearings

For the players that don’t settle on an arbitration amount with their team, they will go before a three-person arbitration panel at some point in February. Both sides will present their cases for why the player is worth what they are seeking. After both cases are heard, the panel will decide which amount the player will earn in the next season. Very few arbitration cases make it this far. The last Brewer to go to a hearing was Jose Veras, who took his case to an arbitrator in 2012.

Mid-February: Spring Training begins

Another event that we don’t have an official date for yet. We’ll find out the official opening of Spring Training camp later this offseason. It should be a little earlier than usual next year because of the next event.

March 7-22: World Baseball Classic

Another event that doesn’t happen every offseason, the World Baseball Classic will take place in March of next year. It’s likely that a few of the Brewers will be picked to play in the event if they want to. Which players are chosen will be announced as the event gets closer. The first games begin on March 7, with the championship set for March 22.

April 3: Brewers Opening Day vs. Rockies

The long offseason will come to an end on April 3, when the Brewers will open up the 2017 season with a three-game series against the Colorado Rockies.

Information on important dates came from CbsSports.com