Congratulations to the Kansas City Royals, who rode what has become a signature late-inning comeback in last night’s Game 5 at Citi Field to the end of a 30-year World Series drought. The Royals were masterful in late innings, as ESPN’s Buster Olney points out (Twitter link), scoring 40 runs in the eighth inning or later this postseason (no other team scored more than five). While many — myself included — were skeptical of Kansas City’s ability to make another World Series run, the Royals silenced critics and can bask in their victory all winter. That will be easier said than done for the team’s players than their front office, however, as like every other baseball operations department, Kansas City GM Dayton Moore and his staff now must turn their focus to the offseason.
Here’s a schedule of the most important dates facing front offices this winter…
- Nov. 2: First day of an exclusive five-day negotiation window which all teams have with their free-agent-eligible players.
- Nov. 6: Final day for teams to extend qualifying offers to free agents. Qualifying offers must be submitted by 5pm ET.
- Nov. 7: Players become eligible to sign with any team.
- Nov. 13: Deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers. Players must formally make their decision by 5pm ET.
- Nov. 9-12: GM Meetings are held in Florida. While not as active as December’s Winter Meetings, the groundwork for many trades and free-agent signings will take place here, and a few moves figure to be completed.
- Dec. 2: Deadline for teams to decide whether or not to tender contracts to their arbitration-eligible players. The free agent market should expand to some degree on this day, albeit with relatively minor names.
- Dec. 7-10: Winter Meetings in Nashville. These four days are among the most chaotic of the year for those who follow trades and free agency — often even more so than the days leading up to the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. MLBTR will be providing 24-hour, around-the-clock coverage while the Winter Meetings are in effect. It should be noted that the Rule 5 Draft will be held on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
Of course, we’ve already begun our best effort to prepare for the offseason here at MLBTR. Our list of 2015-16 free agents has been up since last September and is up to date (though please let us know via the contact form if there are any omissions). MLBTR’s Free Agent Tracker launched in late October and will be updated throughout the winter as agreements are reached. Those wanting to get a head start on plotting out potential courses of action for their favorite teams will want to keep our Arbitration Projections (courtesy of MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz) in mind and check out our 2015-16 Offseason Outlook series as well. We’ve also been breaking down the top names available and will continue to do so in our Free Agent Profile series.
A more comprehensive look at the top free agents will be available on Friday evening, after qualifying offer decisions have been made. At that point, we’ll launch our annual Top 50 free agent list and Free Agent Prediction contest. This year’s list will come fully equipped with not only team predictions for each player on the list but also contract predictions as well for the entire Top 50 as well.
This winter features one of the deepest classes of free agents in recent memory, which should make for a highly interesting offseason. We’re looking forward to the action and will cover it to the fullest extent. Happy offseason!