We are entering the last week of the 2020 season as the World Series is set to begin on Tuesday. Once the World Series is complete, the offseason will begin in full. In the four months leading up to pitchers and catchers reporting for the 2021 season, there are several important dates to note. Here is the complete list of dates for the 2020-2021 offseason. (Information from Adam McCalvy on Brewers.com)
Day after the World Series completes - Official start of the offseason
The day after the World Series concludes, a few things happen. First, all major league players who have expired contracts will become free agents. For the Brewers, this will be one player: Brett Anderson. The Brewers will not have any other free agents immediately, but a few may follow later. This also begins a five-day period where free agents can only negotiate with their previous team.
Five days after the World Series completes - Official start of free agency
At 4 PM Central, free agency officially opens up and all free agents are available to negotiate with all teams. This is also the deadline to offer players a qualifying offer for draft compensation. With Brett Anderson the only player that could be considered and the qualifying offer at $18.9M this offseason, the Brewers won’t be offering that.
In addition, this is the deadline for teams to decide on pending contract options. Going into this offseason, the Brewers have four decisions to make:
- Ryan Braun - $15M mutual option ($4M buyout)
- Jedd Gyorko - $4.5M team option ($1M buyout)
- Eric Sogard - $4.5M team option ($500K buyout)
- Ben Gamel - $2.55M team option (no buyout, but arbitration eligible)
Ryan Braun’s option is an easy one to decide, as the Brewers will decline that and pay the buyout, though it doesn’t mean he won’t return. The others are more up for debate. If the Brewers are looking to save money, all could get declined, but it also wouldn’t be surprising to see a few of these exercised. There’s also the possibility of declining the options but bringing the players back on less expensive deals.
Fifteen days after the World Series completes - Qualifying offer deadline
By this date, all players who received qualifying offers must decide whether to accept them or not. Any players who accept return to their original team on a one-year deal at that price. Any players who refuse the offer become free agents, and draft pick compensation is attached to them if they sign with another major-league team. The Brewers won’t extend the offer to any players, but could end up signing a player who was given an offer (and then would have to give up draft compensation).
November 20 - Rule 5 roster protection deadline
A few weeks into the offseason, the Brewers will have to make some roster decisions on Rule 5 eligible players. These are players who have been in the Brewers minor league system for several years (five for players who signed at age 18 or younger, four for players who signed as age 19 or higher). Adam McCalvy notes that the following prospects on the top 30 list would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft and therefore would need to be protected:
- C Mario Feliciano
- C Payton Henry
- IF Lucas Erceg
- RHP Alec Bettinger
- RHP Zack Brown
- RHP Dylan File
- RHP Trey Supak
Some of these players will likely be added to the 40-man roster. Because of these roster additions, it also means that players on other teams will be designated for assignment or released on this day, so there could also be a few players the Brewers trade for or pick up from this group of players removed from 40-man rosters.
December 2 - Deadline to tender arbitration-eligible players contracts
As mentioned a few days ago, the Brewers have several decisions to make on arbitration eligible players on their roster. The Brewers have 11 players who are arbitration-eligible this offseason, led by Josh Hader and Brandon Woodruff. This is the date where they have to decide whether or not to tender a player a contract. This is not the date where contracts have to be signed, this is just a team deciding to tender contracts (which means they are guaranteeing a contract to a player). If a player is not tendered a contract, they immediately become a free agent. Expect to see a few arbitration-eligible players sign contracts before this date, potentially a player or two traded in advance of this, and some to be released. This also means that a new group of players will be available as free agents or to acquire in a trade.
December 7-10 - Winter Meetings in Dallas
During this week, many MLB executives, players, and related personnel will head to Dallas for one of the most important meetings that takes place in the offseason. This is a chance for players & agents to work out deals with teams, for executives to discuss trades, and for the media to speak with many people. On the last day of the meetings, the Rule 5 draft is held, where teams can pick players who were not protected. For now, this event is scheduled to happen as normal.
January 15 - Arbitration figures exchanged
This is the deadline for teams to exchange arbitration figures with their arbitration-eligible players that they tendered contracts to. On this day, the team and player will each exchange their offer for what they want for a salary in 2021. Many players and teams will reach agreements prior to this (with the agreements usually being a salary around the midpoint of the two offers), but those who do not will exchange figures and prepare to meet the arbitrator. The Brewers management has operated on a “file and trial” system over the past several offseasons, so any players that don’t sign prior to this will head to arbitation.
February 1 - Arbitration hearings begin
This is the start date for any arbitration hearings that need to happen. Teams can still work out deals with the players until the hearing happens. If it goes to an arbitration hearing, an independent arbitrator will hear the cases for the player (usually though their agent) and the team, and then decide which salary the player will receive in the next season. The arbitrator picks one of the two salaries and does not decide on another. These hearings will take player over a few weeks, until all hearings have been held.
Mid-February - Pitchers and Catchers report to Brewers camp
Some time in mid-February, the Brewers will begin their spring camp in Arizona. The date for camp is still TBD, but Adam McCalvy places it during the week of February 15. This is when all of the players and team personnel will head to Maryvale to begin team workouts for the 2021 season.
Here is the condensed version of the important dates:
- October 25-29*: Offseason begins
- October 29-November 2*: Free agency begins
- November 8-12*: Qualifying offer deadline
- November 20: Rule 5 draft protection deadline
- December 2: Contract tender deadline
- December 7-10: Winter Meetings in Dallas
- January 15: Arbitration figures exchanged
- February 1: Arbitration hearings begin
- Mid-February: Pitchers & Catchers report
* - Actual date dependent on World Series final date.