The 2018 playoffs are underway! For some baseball fans, that means cheering on your favorite team or just watching some exciting baseball games. For others, including myself, the offseason can’t get here soon enough because we have no rooting interest and/or just really love free agency and trade rumors.
Once the offseason begins, things will move quickly. A five-day window following the conclusion of the World Series allows for teams to have exclusive negotiating rights with their own pending free agents. By the time that window closes, teams will have reinstated players from the 60-day disabled list or restricted list, and all contract options will have been exercised or declined. Players with an opt-out clause will also have made their decision on whether to stay or become a free agent.
Since several teams will be above the 40-man roster limit once players are reinstated, there will be a flurry of transactions — mostly minor trades and players being designated for assignment or outrighted — prior to the start of the free agency period. These first rounds of cuts are usually not difficult. Typically, teams have at least a few relievers or bench players who are expendable because they are buried on the depth chart and not expected to play an integral role on the MLB roster in the foreseeable future.
Freeing up spots to prepare for December’s Rule 5 draft, however, will be much more challenging. For example, the Padres, who will need to clear two spots initially, could have as many as six or seven prospects that they’ll want to add to the 40-man roster. The front office might need to get creative in order to clear several more spots by the deadline to set the 40-man roster (usually around November 20th). I’ll be discussing this more in a few weeks.
Each team’s roster total (after reinstatements and the departure of free agents) is listed below to show how many spots will need to be cleared or how much space the team will have at the start of the free agency period. The Angels lead with 45, meaning they will have to remove five players from their 40-man roster. The Diamondbacks currently have the most space with 32, although they have one obvious club option to be exercised.
*These numbers will continue to be updated through the first week of November.