Here’s everything that’s happening during the offseason

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Rogers Hornsby’s most famous quote goes like this: “People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring.”

Rogers Hornsby, of course, died in 1963 and back then they didn’t have much of a hot stove season, so it’s understandable that he just stared out of a window. We, however, have all kinds of things to pay attention to in the baseball offseason. Awards season, new uniform unveilings, free agency — assuming teams actually try to sign free agents this year – arbitration stuff, the Hall of Fame election, and then, before you know it, pitchers and catchers are reporting.

Here’s a handy calendar for you to keep track of all of that stuff:

  • November 3: Gold Glove Award Winners Announced

These don’t matter, right? I mean I hope we’re all beyond thinking that they matter. Especially given that, even though they changed the voting a bit on this to allow the Society for American Baseball Research to weigh in, players and managers still comprise the bulk of the electorate and they don’t see some guys at all and see others play far less than, say, the media or independent analysts or what have you. Still: pretty trophy and it’s fun to say “So-and-so was a Gold Glover!”

  • November 4: Day for options to be picked up or declined and the day for qualifying offers to extended;

Almost all free agent deals these days contain team options. If they’re bargains they’re picked up. If they’re not, they’re declined and the player becomes a free agent. If the option is a fair assessment of the player’s value, well, who are kidding: they’re usually declined and the player becomes a free agent. It’s a rough market.

We talked about qualifying offers at length here. This year the free agent market-suppressing qualifying offer stands at $17.8 million. Which is $100,000 less than it was last year. Great economic system you got there, baseball.

  • November 4: BBWAA Award Finalists Announced

This is advertising/BS really. The vote on the big awards has already been taken and there is no “final round” for which there are, properly, “finalists.” They’re just going to release, in no particular order, the names of the top three or five vote-getters. I have no idea whey they do this, but the BBWAA has never been good at turning their awards into an event kind of thing. Frankly, they should do it during the postseason.

  • November 7: Silver Sluggers Announced

It’s fun to say “Silver Slugger Award Winner” too, but I don’t think there is anyone on the planet who can name past winners without looking.

  • November 11-November 14: General Manager Meetings

A lot of people think that the slow free agent market of the past few years is the product of collusion. I understand the impulse — we always want to find a straightforward explanation for things, even when the true causes of any complex circumstance are, in fact, complex — but I must stress that there has been no credible evidence yet produced that establishes teams are colluding against free agents in order to suppress the market. We have some anecdotal stuff about offers all coming in at the same amount at the same time and we can certainly make inferences based on how things have played out, but no one has yet to establish that front offices are entering into explicit or even tacit agreements to violate the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

But if they are, they’re totally doing it at the General Manager Meetings. I mean, duh.

  • November 11-November 14: BBWAA Awards — MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year — announced

We haven’t had any truly good fights about awards in several years and for that you can thank the BBWAA electorate which has gotten pretty darn good at picking these things.

Damn them. I have a website to run here. A little help with come controversy-based content would be nice.

  • November 14: Deadline for players to accept or decline qualifying offers

It used to be that everyone rejected these because there was more money to be made on the free market. That’s not the case anymore.

  • November 19-November 21: owners meetings

I suppose they could collude here too, but they have more important things to discuss here. Such as sharing best practices about leveraging their mild dissatisfaction over their stadium situation into massive grants of real estate development right adjacent to ballparks. Remember: baseball is, increasingly, becoming just one increasingly minor part of these plutocrats’ portfolios.

  • November 20: Deadline for teams to designate who is protected and who isn’t for the Rule 5 draft;

You won’t know most of these guys until they become stars on some other team.

  • December 2: Deadline to tender or non-tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players

Actual substantive contracts with actual amounts won’t be offered here. This is a formal exercise in which a team’s intention to keep players or let them become free agents is made. Think of it like Michael Scott “declaring bankruptcy” in that episode of “The Office.” Except, in this case, it has to be done. The real paperwork is handled later.

  • December 7-December 12: Winter Meetings, San Diego, California

I’ll be there! And so too will be the latest installment of Baseball’s Most Handsome Managers. With Brad Ausmus and, at the moment anyway, Gabe Kapler gone, who knows how it’ll all shake out.

  • December 12: Rule 5 Draft

The first time I went to the Winter Meetings, in 2009, I was super stoked that my press pass got me into this thing. I prepared. I researched. I got my notepad and my computer ready to cover the hell out of this thing, on-location! Then I went into the room where it happened, realized that it’s just dudes yelling names too quickly to write down, most teams yelling back “pass!” and only a small handful of media members — prospect writer/Baseball America types — paying close attention. Literally 2/3 of the press was already at the airport heading home and those who weren’t were drinking coffee and talking to their friends with their packed suitcases beside them ready to leave.

I learned a lot that day. Mostly I learned that, whenever I encounter a writer who is covering his or her first Winter Meetings, I am sure to tell them to TOTALLY GET STOKED for the Rule 5 draft and to make DAMN SURE they are prepared before it goes down. By the time they figure it out, I’m at the airport.

  • January 10: Deadline by which teams, players must exchanging of arbitration figures

This is when the team commits to $X and the player commits to $Y. In the past a negotiation would then ensue and most cases would settle on a contract at the midpoint or thereabouts. Now every single team has adopted a “file-and-trial” approach under which they refuse to negotiate unless that negotiation is for a long-term extension as opposed to a single-year, arbitration-avoiding deal. This, BTW, is a big driver behind those team-friendly extensions a lot of arbitration-eligible players agree to which buy out free agency years. The teams would have you believe they all, magically, independently arrived at this strategy as opposed to agreeing that they should all do so in order to keep salaries down. That’s absolutely adorable.

  • January 21: Hall of Fame voting results announced

I am already tired of the “How Great Was Derek Jeter . . . REALLY?” thinkpieces and they haven’t even been written yet.

Lol, who am I kidding. We’ve all written ten of ’em in the past 15 years. Anyway, here’s a look at the main candidates. It’s gonna be Jeter’s party and, I don’t suspect anyway, anyone else will be invited.

  • February 3: Arbitration hearings begin

You won’t hear anything about how these go until they’re over. If you want some insight into the process, this is helpful.

  • February 10-February 12: Pitchers and catchers report

They will all have been at their spring training facilities for days and even weeks by this point, of course. There isn’t much of an actual offseason these days.

See, Rogers, the offseason is full of fun things. Stop staring out your window and get your head back in the game, OK?

Jacob deGrom, oft-injured Rangers ace, to have season-ending right elbow surgery

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Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Texas Rangers signed Jacob deGrom to a $185 million, five-year deal in free agency last winter hoping the two-time NL Cy Young Award winner could help them get back to the playoffs for the first time since 2016 and make a push toward winning a World Series.

They also knew the risks, with the pitcher coming off two injury-plagued seasons with the New York Mets.

Even with deGrom sidelined since late April, the AL West-leading Rangers are off to the best start in franchise history – but now will be without their prized acquisition until at least next year. The team said Tuesday that deGrom will have season-ending surgery next week to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

“We’ve got a special group here and to not be able to be out there and help them win, that stinks,” deGrom said, pausing several times with tears in his eyes. “Wanting to be out there and helping the team, it’s a disappointment.”

General manager Chris Young said Tuesday the decision on surgery came after an MRI on deGrom’s ailing right elbow, but the extent of what is required might not be determined until the operation is performed next week.

Tommy John surgery, in which the damaged ligament is replaced, is often needed to fix a torn UCL, but Young and the Rangers didn’t go as far as saying the pitcher would have that particular procedure. After being drafted by the New York Mets in 2010, deGrom made six starts in the minors that summer before needing Tommy John surgery and missing all of 2011, three years before his big league debut.

DeGrom last pitched April 28 against the New York Yankees, when he exited early because of injury concerns for the second time in a span of three starts. The announcement about surgery came a day after deGrom was transferred to the 60-day injured list.

Young said the latest MRI showed more inflammation and significant structural damage in the ligament that wasn’t there on the scan after deGrom left the game against the Yankees.

“The results of that MRI show that we have not made progress. And in fact, we’ve identified some damage to the ligament,” Young said. “It’s obviously a tough blow for Jacob, for certainly the Rangers. But we do feel this is what is right for Jacob in his career. We’re confident he’ll make a full recovery.”

Young and deGrom, who turns 35 later this month, said the goal is for the pitcher to return near the end of next season. Both said they were glad to have clarity on what was wrong with the elbow.

Texas won all six games started by deGrom (2-0), but the right-hander threw only 30 1/3 innings. He has a 2.67 ERA with 45 strikeouts and four walks. He threw 3 2/3 scoreless innings against the Yankees in his last start before leaving because of discomfort in his arm.

The Rangers went into Tuesday night’s game against St. Louis with a 39-20 record, the first time they were 19 games over .500 since the end of 2016, their last winning season.

Before going home to Florida over the weekend for the birth of his third child, deGrom threw his fifth bullpen last Wednesday in Detroit.

“I’d have days where I’d feel really good, days where I didn’t feel great. So I was kind of riding a roller coaster there for a little bit,” deGrom said. “They said originally there, we just saw some inflammation. … Getting an MRI right after you pitch, I feel like anybody would have inflammation. So, you know, I was hoping that that would get out of there and I would be fine. But it just didn’t work out that way.”

DeGrom spent his first nine big league seasons with the Mets, but was limited by injuries to 156 1/3 innings over 26 starts during his last two years in New York.

He had a career-low 1.08 ERA over 92 innings in 2021 before missing the final three months of the season with right forearm tightness and a sprained elbow.

The four-time All-Star didn’t make his first big league start last year until Aug. 2 after being shut down late in spring training because of a stress reaction in his right scapula.

His latest injury almost surely will trigger Texas’ conditional option on deGrom’s contract for 2028.

The option takes effect if deGrom has Tommy John surgery on his right elbow from 2023-26 or has any right elbow or shoulder injury that causes him to be on the IL for any period of 130 consecutive days during any season or 186 days in a row during any service period.

The conditional option would be for $20 million, $30 million or $37 million, depending on deGrom’s performance during the contract and health following the 2027 season.

“I feel bad for Jake. If I know Jake, he’ll have the surgery and come back and finish his career strong,” second-year Mets manager Buck Showalter said. “I know how much it means to him. He enjoys pitching. It’s certainly sad news for all of us.”