With the World Series completed, the MLB offseason has officially begun. It’s going to be a different kind of offseason as the current Collective Bargaining Agreement is set to expire. Uncertainty is present as the expiration date approaches, but for now, it’s business as usual. Here are the important dates to look forward to this offseason.
Free Agency Begins
Automatically after the end of the World Series, the free agency period opens. Any player with 6+ years of service time who is not currently signed to a contract become free agents. For the first five days after the World Series, the players’ previous teams are the only ones that can negotiate with these free agents. This is generally a quiet period, as most players will wait to see what other teams offer.
60-Day DL Reinstatement
Five days after the World Series, teams must reinstate any players from the 60-day DL onto their roster. If there are not enough 40 man roster spots with free agents gone to cover those players, the team must clear spots to accommodate these players, meaning some players may end up on waivers or released.
This is also the end of the exclusive negotiating period, and all free agents are now eligible to sign with any team. This is also the deadline for option decisions to be made. The Brewers have two players with options. Avisail Garcia has a mutual option, and Jackie Bradley Jr. has a player option. Bradley Jr. will likely accept his player option after a rough season, while Garcia is more likely to test free agency.
GM Meetings in Carlsbad, CA
The GM Meetings take place this week, and these generally are not a place for many roster moves. This is generally for rules discussion and other off the field matters. Some moves can happen at these meetings, but it’s also generally a quiet week.
2021 Season Award Winners
The finalists for the season awards are announced the week before, but this week is when the awards for the 2021 season are handed out. It’s a four-day event, with a different award announced each day:
- November 15: Rookies of the Year
- November 16: Managers of the Year
- November 17: Cy Young Award Winners
- November 18: MVP Winners
Qualifying Offer Deadline
This is the day that players who are offered the qualifying offer must decide to accept it by. Nothing should happen for the Brewers on this day. With the qualifying offer expected to be $18.4 million, the Brewers won’t make that offer to any of their free agents.
Rule 5 Protection
This is the deadline to project eligible players from the Rule 5 Draft at the Winter Meetings. To protect the players, the Brewers will either have to add them to the 40-man roster (for protection from the major league phase of the draft) or to the Triple-A roster (for protection from the minor league phase). Adam McCalvy notes four players among the top prospects that will need to be protected: OF Korry Howell, OF Carlos Rodriguez, OF Tristen Lutz, and RHP Victor Castaneda.
This is when the offseason could become more complicated. The current CBA is set to expire on this date. If/when this happens, what teams can do will become more limited. Signings can still happen, but there will be no agreement for how to handle them. As a result, most transactions will stop until a new CBA is in place. Even if a new CBA is put in place, it may change around the dates below. That is something to keep in mind with the remainder of this.
This is the deadline for the Brewers to offer contracts to their players who are still under control but do not have an active contract. The Brewers have 14 players under control who are arbitration-eligible, and a few of those will likely be non-tendered. There will also be a few players who will be given “take it or leave it” deals. Basically, they either accept the deal or end up non-tendered. That is how the Brewers have operated in recent years, and it’s likely they will do the same this offseason.
Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL
These meetings are generally when a good amount of the offseason transactions will take place. Owners, front office staff, coaches, agents, and some players will be at the meetings to work on offseason deals. These are busy days, and we will get a lot of news from here. One change this year is that the Rule 5 Draft will take place on December 8 instead of December 9.
Arbitration Figures Exchanged
This is the deadline for arbitration-eligible players and teams to submit figures for what they believe those players should make during the 2022 season. In the hours leading up to the deadline, some players and teams will reach agreements to avoid arbitration. If no agreement is made, figures are exchanged and an arbitration hearing is scheduled. The Brewers have generally operated under a “file and trial” system. What this means is they will try to come to an agreement before the figures are exchanged, but once they are, they will let it go to a hearing and will not negotiate anymore. The hearings will take place over the following few weeks.
Week of February 14
Pitchers and Catchers Report
An exact date is not known yet, but this is the week when pitchers and catchers are expected to report to camp to prepare for the 2022 season. That will kick off the 2022 preseason, in preparation for the start of the 2022 season on March 31.
Here’s a condensed version of the calendar:
- 11/03: Free agency begins, exclusive team negotiating period
- 11/07: 60-day DL reinstatement deadline, exclusive negotiating period ends
- 11/08 - 11/11: GM Meetings in Carlsbad, CA
- 11/15 - 11/18: 2021 season award winners announced
- 11/17: Deadline to accept qualifying offers
- 11/19: Deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft
- 12/01: Current CBA expires (all dates after this subject to change)
- 12/02: Deadline to tender contracts to unsigned players
- 12/06 - 12/09: Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL
- 01/14: Deadline to exchange figures for arbitration-eligible players
- 02/14 - 02/20: Pitchers and catchers report this week (exact date TBD)