With the World Series coming to an end tonight, the 2011/2012 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:
Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day disabled list no later than five days after the end of the World Series, getting their rosters down to 40-men. The deadline this year is on Wednesday. The Pittsburgh Pirates currently have five players on the 60-day disabled list: Paul Maholm, Chris Snyder, Kevin Correia, Steve Pearce, and Kevin Hart. They will need to clear roster spots for any of those players they wish to retain.
Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Monday night. The Pirates have options on Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, Chris Snyder, and Ronny Cedeno. At the moment, it looks like Cedeno will be the only one retained.
November 18th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2011 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 18th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 18th and the 2011 Rule 5 draft, held on December 8th.
As for the actual draft, teams have until December 1st 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 5th, 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 12th to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2012 season. The Pirates have eleven players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year: Garrett Jones (Super Two), Steve Pearce (Super Two), Joel Hanrahan, Jeff Karstens, Charlie Morton, Evan Meek, Jason Grilli, Jose Veras, Ross Ohlendorf, Chris Resop, and Brandon Wood. Earlier this month I predicted who would be tendered an offer, the arbitration prices, and the non-tender candidates.
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 have four ranking free agents: Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick, plus Ryan Doumit and Chris Snyder once their options are declined. Teams aren’t limited to ranked free agents. They can also tender offers to unranked free agents, such as Paul Maholm after his option is declined, although no compensation is given if Maholm signs elsewhere.
October 30th at 12:01 AM EST 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 have two players who qualifies for free agency: Derrek Lee and Ryan Ludwick. Paul Maholm, Ryan Doumit, and Chris Snyder will be added to this list once their options are bought out. 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 12:01 AM EST, November 3rd.
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 projections for 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 2012 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 15 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 2012 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 2011/2012 market. Players have until December 7th to accept the offer of arbitration. Should a player accept the offer, the club retains their rights for the 2012 season, and the two sides go through the arbitration process mentioned above.
After December 7th, the free agent market should heat up.
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 14-15, and the Owners’ Meetings take place November 15-16. 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 haven’t settled on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement yet, with the current one expiring in December. I would be surprised if the talks reach that point, as there is urgency to complete the talks before free agency officially begins next week.
The Winter Meetings take place on December 5-8. The Winter Meetings usually marks the time when free agency starts to heat up, and it shouldn’t be different this year.