Your Hot Stove Season Preview

Library of Congress
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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.

Pujols has 2 more RBIs, Cardinals beat Pirates 8-7 in 10

Cincinnati Reds v St. Louis Cardinals
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PITTSBURGH – Albert Pujols drove in two more runs and the St. Louis Cardinals went on to beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 8-7 in 10 innings Tuesday night.

Pujols hit a two-run single in the third inning to push his career total to 2,218 RBIs. That came a night after he broke a tie with Babe Ruth for second place on the career list. Hank Aaron holds the record with 2,287.

Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol then removed the 42-year-old Pujols at the end of the inning. St. Louis opens postseason play Friday when it hosts a best-of-three National League wild-card series.

Juan Yepez gave the Cardinals the win when he hit a tiebreaking single with one in the 10th inning off Chase De Jong (6-3) to score automatic runner Ben Deluzio.

“Tonight was interesting because you’re fairly scripted in who you want to use and who you don’t want to use and what you want tomorrow to look like so you can get ready for Friday,” Cardinals manager Oliver Marmol said. “It was a good one to still figure out a way to come out on top.”

The Cardinals threw out the potential tying run at home in the bottom of the 10th when automatic runner Kevin Newman tried to score from second base on Oneil Cruz‘s line single off the glove of first baseman Alec Burleson. The ball deflected to second baseman Brendon Donovan, who threw home to catcher Andrew Knizner.

The Pirates challenged the call, but it was upheld on video review.

“I thought we were going to get it overturned,” Newman said. “I just thought he didn’t tag me until he got higher up on the body.”

It was the Pirates’ 100th loss, the second year in a row they have reached that mark.

The Cardinals got two hits each from Donovan, Corey Dickerson, Knizner and Paul DeJong.

Cruz had three hits for the Pirates and Bryan Reynolds, Rodolfo Castro, Jack Suwinski, Ke'Bryan Hayes and Ji-Hwan Bae added two apiece. Miguel Andujar drove in two runs.

Chris Stratton (10-4) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

“They weren’t the prettiest two innings I’ve ever pitched but I got a great play from the defense in the 10th inning to help me out,” Stratton said. “It was a good play all the way around.’

Pujols’ hit put the Cardinals ahead 3-1 but the Pirates answered with six runs in the bottom of the third. Andujar’s run-scoring double highlighted an inning that includes RBI singles by Castro, Suwinski, Ben Gamel and Bae.

The Cardinals then scored four runs in the seventh inning to tie the score at 7-all. Donovan hit an RBI single, Dickerson drove in two runs with a double and the tying run scored on a throwing error by Cruz, the rookie shortstop.

Both starting pitchers lasted just 2 2/3 innings. The Cardinals’ Dakota Hudson was rocked for seven runs and nine hits while the Pirates’ JT Brubaker allowed three runs on four hits.

Brubaker was activated from the injured list before the game. He had been out since Sept. 16 with right lat discomfort.

HELSLEY HURT

Reliever Ryan Helsley, the Cardinals’ closer, left in the eighth inning with a jammed right middle finger. Helsley was injured after catching a line drive by Bae and using his hands to brace himself while dodging a piece of a broken bat.

Helsley said he expects to be ready to pitch Friday.

“I don’t think there was anything super wrong with it,” Helsley said. `Just give it some rest and let it resolve itself.”

ROSTER MOVES

The Pirates optioned right-hander Roansy Contreras to Triple-A Indianapolis to clear a roster spot for Brubaker. They also recalled infielder/outfielder Tucapita Marcano from Indianapolis and optioned catcher Jose Godoy to the same club.

PIRATES AWARDS

Center fielder Bryan Reynolds was voted the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award, emblematic of the Pirates’ MVP, by the Pittsburgh chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Mitch Keller won the Steve Blass Award for best pitcher. Former infielder Michael Chavis was voted the Chuck Tanner Good Guy Award.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Cardinals: OF Tyler O'Neill (strained right hamstring) has been ruled out for the wild-card series but St. Louis is hopeful he can play in the NLDS round if it advances. . 3B Nolan Arenado (left quadriceps tightness) missed his second straight game but could play Wednesday.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have not decided on a starter for Wednesday, though Marmol said LHP Matthew Liberatore (2-1, 5.46) and RHP Jake Woodford (4-0, 2.33) are possibilities.

Pirates: RHP Johan Oviedo (4-3, 3.12), who was acquired from the Cardinals on Aug. 1, gets the start.