The 2017 season came to a conclusion last night when the Astros closed out a Game 7 victory over the Dodgers, officially (and remarkably) making Sports Illustrated’s famous 2014 prediction a reality. Houston’s aggressive rebuilding tactics led to the selections of George Springer (No. 11), Carlos Correa (No. 1), Lance McCullers (No. 41) and Alex Bregman (No. 2) near the top of their respective drafts, while the team’s front office, scouting department and player development staff deserve praise for compiling a roster that is rife with hidden gems.
Dallas Keuchel, a seventh-round pick in ’09, blossomed into one of baseball’s best starters over the past few years in Houston. Waiver claims like Collin McHugh and Will Harris have cemented themselves as big leaguers. Marwin Gonzalez, a Rule 5 pick out of the Cubs organization, was one of the game’s most versatile and most valuable players in 2017. Some raised an eyebrow at last winter’s two-year deal for Charlie Morton after he made just four starts in 2016, but he capped a terrific season with a heroic four-inning relief appearance in Game 7, clinching the first World Series in franchise history.
American League MVP candidate Jose Altuve came to the Astros as an unheralded international signing that received a mere $15K bonus back in 2007. And, of course, general manager Jeff Luhnow and his staff deserve credit for their dramatic, last-minute acquisition of Justin Verlander, who looked better than ever for the Astros down the stretch and took home ALCS MVP honors with 16 innings of one-run ball.
While congratulations are in order for the Astros, the front office won’t spend too much time celebrating. Like baseball’s other 29 teams, they’ll look ahead to the 2018 season (and beyond) with visions of a future World Series Championship firmly in their sights. Here are some of the key dates of the MLB offseason, which kicks off today…
- Nov. 2: Commencement of a five-day, exclusive negotiation window that teams have with their own free agents. (Also, MLBTR’s Top 50 Free Agent rankings with predictions!)
- Nov. 4: Deadline for players with opt-out clauses (e.g. Justin Upton, Masahiro Tanaka) to exercise those provisions.
- Nov. 6: The deadline for MLB clubs to formally issue one-year qualifying offers (valued at $17.4MM this offseason, as reported by MLBTR) to free agents is 5:00pm ET. Those players will have 10 days to weigh the offers and can negotiate with other clubs during that 10-day window. After that 5pm deadline, all free agents are eligible to begin negotiating with other teams.
- Nov. 13-16: General Managers’ meetings take place in Orlando, Fla.
- Nov. 20: Deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters in advance of the Rule 5 Draft.
- Dec. 1: Deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
- Dec. 10-14: MLB’s annual Winter Meetings take place in Orlando, Fla.
- Dec. 14: The Rule 5 Draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings.
- Jan. 13: Arbitration exchange day — the date on which teams and players must exchange filing numbers for arbitration. Hearings, if necessary, typically begin in early February.
- Mar. 29: Opening Day! Baseball is back.
Names like J.D. Martinez, Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas headline the 2017-18 class of MLB free agents. We’ll be running our Top 50 Free Agent rankings, which will include contract projections and predictions as to where each of the 50 will sign, later this afternoon.
The offseason figures to, as always, bring plenty of action on the trade front as well (tip of the cap to Jerry Dipoto). At the forefront of this winter’s trade talks, of course, will be Giancarlo Stanton. Several other names will be bandied about the rumor mill as well, though, with players like Ian Kinsler, Jose Abreu, Dee Gordon, Brad Hand and many others standing out as offseason trade candidates.
MLBTR readers can bookmark our new and improved Free Agent Tracker as a useful offseason resource. It can be filtered by position, team, signing status, handedness, qualifying offers, and contract years, amounts, and options. We’ll be updating that and our list of free agents throughout the offseason as the free-agent landscape begins to take shape.
You can also follow along with MLBTR’s Offseason Outlook series to get a feel for the decisions that each of the league’s 30 teams will face over the winter and some of the routes they could take to Opening Day 2018. We at MLBTR look forward to another active offseason of hot stove coverage and hope you’ll follow along with us throughout the process!