Your Hot Stove Season Preview

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Cubs fans are still hungover or, possibly, still in the process of sobering up. Baseball stops for no one, however. Indeed, the 2016-17 Hot Stove Season has already begun. Some key offseason deadlines are going to hit before you can blink:

  • As of 9 a.m. this morning, all players not under team control automatically became free agents;
  • By Saturday, November 5, all player and club options have to either be exercised or forgone;
  • The deadline for teams to make qualifying offers to free agents is Monday, November 7. The qualifying offer is $17.2 million this year. If a player accepts it, that’s his deal. If not, and if he signs elsewhere, his 2016 team gets draft pick compensation and the signing team loses a pick. Players have until Monday, November 14 to accept or reject the qualifying offer;
  • Between now and Tuesday, November 8, clubs have an exclusive window with which to negotiate with free agents who played for them when the 2016 season concluded. As of Tuesday, free agents can negotiate with any club;
  • Clubs have to move minor leaguers they want to protect from the Rule 5 draft onto the 40-man roster by Friday, November 18;
  • Clubs have to tender or non-tender arbitration-eligible players not subject to a multi-year deal a contract by December 2. If they tender a contract, the player and club will negotiate a deal for 2017. If they cannot reach a deal my mid-January, they will head to an arbitration hearing . If the club non-tenders a player, the player becomes a free agent.
  • The Winter Meetings will take place in Washington, D.C. from December 5 through December 8. The Rule 5 Draft will take place there on December 8th.
  • Arbitration hearings will take place in early February, just as spring training gets underway;
  • Pitchers and catchers begin reporting in mid-February. Maybe even earlier than usual this year due to the World Baseball Classic. The deadlines for reporting usually range from around February 17-25th or thereabouts.

That’s a lot to take in. And there are a LOT of free agents to take in as well. Our Matthew Pouliot has just completed his list of the top-111 free agents available this year. It’s a thinner class than usual, but the course of franchises will still be altered between now and February.

In the coming days, Bill, Ashley and I will be going through the free agent class, position by position as well, giving you all of the information you need to follow your team’s offseason plans. Or to figure out why in the heck your team is doing what it’s doing when you have no real idea.

Baseball sleeps for no one. It was warm in Cleveland last night, but the cold winds will soon start blowing. Cozy up to the hot stove with us for the next few months. It’ll be Opening Day before you know it.