When the Kansas City Royals took out the New York Mets in five games of the 2015 World Series, it started the clock on the 2015-2016 off-season. Teams have a five-day window to exclusively negotiate with their own players and free agents before the free-for-all, and that starts at the end of this week.
Here are the dates to be aware of this winter.
First day in the post-World Series world. The exclusivity window opens for five days, allowing teams to talk to their own free agents. For the Twins this includes Mike Pelfrey, Brian Duensing, Neal Cotts, Blaine Boyer, and Torii Hunter. Hunter, of course, has retired.
Deadline for decisions on most options. The Twins don't have any on the books for 2016.
Teams must extend a qualifying offer (one year, $15.8 million) to their free agents by 4:00pm central. No Twins player will receive the qualifying offer, but it sounds like Matt Wieters will. That should dampen our enthusiasm for a player that MLBTR already believes will receive five years and $82 to $85 million.
Free agency begins. Players can sign wherever they like.
Deadline by which players must accept or decline their qualifying offer. Their decisions must be made by 4:00pm central.
November 9 - 12
General Manager's meetings in Florida.
November 18 - 19
Owner's meetings in Texas.
Deadline for arbitration-eligible players to be tendered or non-tendered. Players non-tendered will become free-agents. Shane Robinson has been outrighted, although I'm unsure as to whether or not he's actually elected free agency. If he has, then of course he's free to sign anywhere he likes. If he has not, then the Twins will still need to decide whether to tender him or not.
December 7 - 10
The 2015 Winter Meetings in Nashville. This has been a lot of fun over the last few years, so long as you're okay with discussing rumors and speculation. One of my favorite weeks of the baseball cycle.
Rule 5 draft. The Twins selected J.R. Graham from the Braves last year, and lost Sean Gilmartin to the Mets. Players selected must remain on a team's 25-man roster for the entire season or be placed on waivers; at a minimum they must spend 90 days on the active roster, and can spend the rest of the season on the disabled list. It's a loophole.
Results revealed for the 2016 Hall of Fame class.
Deadline for teams and players to file salaries for arbitration.
February 1 - 21
Salary arbitration hearings take place on these dates. The Twins have not had to attend an arbitration hearing since Kyle Lohse in 2005 and 2006.
Pitchers and catchers report; spring training gets underway
Opening Day - baseball is back!