With the World Series coming to an end last night, the 2017/2018 offseason officially begins today. Here is a quick primer of all of the offseason 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 Monday. The Pittsburgh Pirates have just one player on the 60-day disabled list (Josh Harrison), and one open spot. So they don’t have a decision to make here.
Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Saturday night. The Pirates have decisions to make on the following players:
Andrew McCutchen – $14.5 M club option, $1 M buyout
Chris Stewart – $1.5 M club option, $0.25 M buyout
Wade LeBlanc – $1.25 M club option, $0.05 buyout
McCutchen’s option will definitely be picked up. I could see Stewart and LeBlanc getting declined, due to cheaper options at each position.
November 20th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2017 Rule 5 draft. Here is a look from the summer at the Rule 5 decisions the Pirates need to make. We will have an update this week. Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 20th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 20th and the 2017 Rule 5 draft, held on December 14th.
My prediction of the 2018 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 2018 season. The Pirates have four players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year. Here are the players, and their projected arbitration prices, according to MLBTR:
Jordy Mercer, 3rd Year – $6,500,000
Gerrit Cole, 2nd Year – $7,500,000
Felipe Rivero, 1st Year – $3,100,000
George Kontos, 3rd Year – $2,700,000
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, during the first two weeks of January. Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures around the third week of January, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February. 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 three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player. All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.
The Pirates are a file and trial team, which means if a deal isn’t worked out before players officially file for arbitration, then they will go to a hearing. This is a growing trend among teams to strengthen negotiations pre-filing.
November 2nd 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 qualify for free agency: Joaquin Benoit and John Jaso. 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 7th.
The big topic during this period will be the qualifying offers for these players. Teams have five days to decide if they will make a qualifying offer to departing free agents. This year the offer is $17.2 M for one year. If the player accepts that offer, the team gets him for the 2018 season on that deal. If the player declines and signs with another team, the former team gets a draft pick in the 2018 draft.
This obviously doesn’t apply for the Pirates’ free agents this year.
The two notable meetings that take place in the offseason are the GM/Owners meetings, and the more popular Winter Meetings. The first two meetings provides an opportunity for the General Managers to meet face to face, and possibly start discussions on potential trades.
The Winter Meetings take place on December 10-14. The Winter Meetings usually mark the time when free agency starts to heat up.