2010-2011 Off Season Primer

With the World Series coming to an end tonight, the 2010/2011 off-season officially begins tomorrow.  You can check out all of the important off-season dates on the Off-Season Calendar.  Here is a quick primer of all of the off-season topics:

40-Man Rosters

Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day disabled list by Sunday, getting their rosters down to 40-men.  The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have four players on the 60-day disabled list: Ross Ohlendorf, Jose Ascanio, Jeff Clement, and Steve Pearce.  They will need to clear roster spots for any of those players they wish to retain.

November 19th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2010 Rule 5 draft.  The Pirates have several prospects who need to be protected for the first time this year, detailed in this post.  Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 19th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 19th and the 2010 Rule 5 draft, held on December 9th.

As for the actual draft, teams have until December 2nd to place a player on waivers in order to clear a spot on the 40-man roster so that they can make a selection in the Rule 5 draft.  This is so that they can outright the player off the 40-man roster on December 6th, which is the deadline for clearing a spot for the draft.

My prediction of the 2011 40-man roster can be found here, minus the Rule 5 additions.

Arbitration Eligible Players

Teams have until December 2nd to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2011 season.  The Pirates have nine players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year: Ross Ohlendorf (Super Two), Joel Hanrahan, Ronny Cedeno, Andy LaRoche, Lastings Milledge, Wilfredo Ledezma, Jeff Karstens, Zach Duke, and Delwyn Young.  Back in September I detailed who should be tendered an offer, and who should be non-tendered.

Once offers are tendered, the two sides (the team and the player) will work to reach an agreement.  If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration, between the dates of January 5th and January 15th.  Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures on January 18th, and have their salary arbitration hearing between February 1st and February 21st.  The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.

If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the arbitrator will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player.  All decisions made by the arbitrator are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.

Teams can also offer arbitration to their ranking free agents, in order to try and gain compensation for those free agents should they choose to sign elsewhere.  The Pirates don’t have any ranking free agents, which I will detail in the next section.

Free Agency

November 2nd marks the beginning of a five day period in which teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their players who qualify for free agency.  The Pirates only have one player who qualifies for free agency: Chan Ho Park.  Pending free agents can have general discussions with other clubs during this five day period, but can’t discuss contract details or sign with a new team until November 7th.

Free agency moves slow at first, mostly because of the aforementioned arbitration process with ranking free agents.  The Elias Sports Bureau releases a set of rankings, grading qualifying free agents as either “Type A” or “Type B” free agents.  MLBTR has already acquired this year’s rankings.  If a player is rated a Type A or B free agent, their former team gains compensation draft picks in the 2011 draft, only if that former team offers the player arbitration and the player signs elsewhere.  Not every eligible player is offered arbitration, due to the fact that the arbitration figure could be higher than what the player would receive on the open market.

Type A free agents land their former team a first round compensation pick, plus the first round draft pick from the signing team as additional compensation.  The top 18 picks are protected from compensation this year, meaning that the Pirates would lose their second round pick, rather than the first overall pick in the 2011 draft, should they sign a Type A free agent who was offered arbitration.  Type B free agents land their former team a first round compensation pick.  The signing team isn’t penalized at all for signing Type B free agents, as the first round compensation picks for both Type A and Type B free agents are awarded by Major League Baseball.

Teams have until November 23rd to offer salary arbitration to ranking free agents.  For that reason, don’t expect much action for the big names right away, as teams won’t try to sign those players until they know what sort of compensation they will be awarding to the former team.  Since the top players won’t be signing right away, the market won’t be set for the lesser players, who will be looking at the top free agents to set the 2010/2011 market.  Players have until November 30th to accept the offer of arbitration.  Should a player accept the offer, the club retains their rights for the 2011 season, and the two sides go through the arbitration process mentioned above.

After November 30th, the free agent market should heat up.

Meetings

The two notable meetings that take place in the off-season are the GM/Owners meetings, and the more popular Winter Meetings.  The General Manager’s meetings take place on November 16-17, and the Owners’ Meetings take place November 17-18.  Not much occurs during these meetings, although it provides an opportunity for the General Managers to meet face to face, and possibly start discussions on potential trades.  The owners’ meetings should be interesting this year, with all of the preparations for next year’s CBA negotiations.

The Winter Meetings take place on December 6-9.  In the past the big free agent deals usually have taken place at the meetings, although that’s probably due to the fact that the arbitration dates for ranking free agents were previously around the time of the winter meetings.

Tim Williams

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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