In case you didn’t pay attention, the World Series is over and the 2019-2020 off season has commenced for Major League Baseball. Each off season has award ceremonies, the free agent market, Rule 5 Draft, and then (finally) Spring Training. So when does everything happen and what deadlines are there? Let’s take a look:
Today, November 4
Kind of a bit going on today! First, today is the deadline for contract options to be decided on. For the Minnesota Twins, they’ve already exercised their club option on Nelson Cruz. There is still yet to be a decision made on the club option for Martin Perez, who would be owed $7.5 million of the option is taken, or $500,000 if it is bought out. Most people believe the Twins will pay the buyout.
Today is also the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to any players from their team that are hitting free agency. The player must also not have been extended a QO in their career and also must have been on the team the entire season. Players that have a qualifying offer extended to them have ten days to take the offer or to explore the free agent market. If the player rejects the offer, the former team receives a draft pick. The QO is a one-year deal worth the average of the top 125 MLB contracts of the season, which is $17.8 million. It gets a bit more complicated, so if you’d like to learn more, check it out here. One Twins player’s name has been tossed around regarding a QO - Jake Odorizzi.
Technically free agency starts today, but we probably won’t see much news. Teams have had since the day after the World Series to negotiate with pending free agents. If they didn’t come to terms on anything, they hit the free agent market today.
Finally, in the awards category, the finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) awards are announced. This includes Manager of the Year (Rocco Baldelli’s name is in the hat for this), Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player. There will be three finalists announced from each league for each award.
Silver Slugger Awards are announced on this date. The last Twins player to win a Silver Slugger was Joe Mauer as a catcher in 2013, and also won it as a catcher in 2008, 2009, and 2010. Josh Willingham won it while he was an outfielder for Minnesota in 2012. This year, Nelson Cruz has a good shot to win it as a DH.
The general managers have a meeting during these dates in Scottsdale, Arizona. Typically, this is to talk about non-player matters.
The BBWAA awards are announced these days, including Rookies of the Year (Nov. 11), Managers of the Year (Nov. 12), Cy Young winners (Nov. 13), and MVPs (Nov 14.)
November 14th is also the deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers if they have been extended one.
A couple more awards are announce: Comeback Players of the Year are announced on Nov. 18 while Designated Hitter of the Year is announced on Nov. 19. The latter is probably another award that Nelson Cruz could add to his collection.
November 20th is the deadline for all teams to add eligible minor league players to their 40-man roster to protect from the Rule 5 Draft. College players that were drafted before 2016 and high school players and international players drafted before 2015 are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Wander Javier, Dakota Chalmers, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino, Trey Cabbage, and many other Twins minor league players are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft this year.
Lastly, the owners are meeting Nov. 19-21 in Arlington, Texas. These are usually to handle business matters and aren’t big for any trades or signings.
This is the non-tender deadline, where teams have to offer a contract to their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players for the next season. If a team does not offer a player a contract, they are non-tendered and then become free agents. We’ve talked about C.J. Cron as a non-tender candidate so far this off season.
This is where the fun begins: the Winter Meetings. It is a day of rumors, trades, free agent signings, and more. Most of the moves and signings happen during these days, and the hot stove is basically on fire. The Winter Meetings are in San Diego this year.
On the last day of the Winter Meetings, the Rule 5 Draft takes place. Players that are selected in this draft must be on the team’s 26-man roster all season. If they are not, then they are exposed to waivers and returned to their former team.
This marks the deadline for teams and any arbitration-eligible players to submit and exchange salary figures for what they believe the player should be paid in 2020. Teams can still work out and agree to a contract after submitting these figures. Most arb-eligible players agree to a contract before this deadline. Twins players that are arb-eligible this year includes, Cron, Trevor May, Ehire Adrianza, Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, Byron Buxton, Tyler Duffey, and newly-acquired Matt Wisler.
If a team and a player does not come to terms on an agreed-upon salary for 2020, they go to arbitration. The team and the player each makes their case in front of a panel and the panel picks one of the salary figures that was submitted. A recent-ish example is Kyle Gibson and the Twins going to an arbitration hearing, with the Twins winning.
February 12 - March 23
The Twins’ pitchers and catchers are due to report to Spring Training in Florida! Minnesota will kick off organized, scheduled games on February 21 against the University of Minnesota and end Spring Training against the Rochester Red Wings on March 23. The regular season opens on March 26 as the Twins will take a trip to California and face the Oakland Athletics.