Here’s Where The Off-Season Begins

We’ve come to the end of the 2017 season.  Congratulations to the Houston Astros on winning their first World Series title in franchise history.  I know my friends over at Astros County are delirious right now and with good reason.  It’s always a great thing when you win the final game of the season and I hope they stock up on plenty of championship paraphernalia.

For the rest of us, the end of the games means the beginning of the off-season.  The Cardinals have promised that it is going to be an active one, but what does the calendar look like and when can we expect some moves?  Let’s look at a few important dates that are coming up (with thanks to help from this article in The News Tribune).

November 2–Hey, that’s today!  As the World Series is now over, players can start filing for free agency and most of them do so immediately.  For St. Louis, that means Lance Lynn, Seung-hwan Oh, and Juan Nicasio will be opening up that option for themselves.

November 6–Monday is the day when clubs must tender a qualifying offer to whomever they are going to tender a qualifying offer to.  Out of all the free agents, only Lynn will get a QO and it is not even a question.  The Cardinals would love to see Lynn accept that offer and get him back at the $17.4 million that is the standard this year.

Also, the 60-man DL goes away on this day, meaning that Alex Reyes and Trevor Rosenthal have to be re-added to the 40-man roster.  With the three free agents coming off the 40-man, there won’t have to be a move to put them back on but there could be some anyway as the club tries to make sure it keeps some open spots.  The more serious deadline for that is a couple of weeks away, though, and the Cards typically don’t cut people until they have to do so.

November 13-16–The general managers will meet in Orlando over this period.  I don’t know if that includes just the ones that have the title or also includes the ones, like John Mozeliak, who seem to still have that GM power.  These meetings aren’t quite as wild and crazy as the winter meetings in December can be, but a lot of groundwork (and rumors!) will probably come out of this gathering.  Don’t expect any big deals, though some smaller deals that help clean up the 40-man could happen.

November 20–The 40-man has to be set in advance of the Rule 5 draft which will happen in December.  Players that need to be protected will have to be added by this time, such as Austin Gomber and Tyler O’Neill.  This is why Mozeliak typically gets his deals done early (or at least one of the reasons).  I have a feeling that before this time we’ll have seen at least one big move and I believe Gomber will be part of the deal.

December 1–This is the non-tender deadline.  Any player that is still under team control (but not under an actual contract) must be extended a contract offer by this time.  This season, Rosenthal is the one that will draw the most attention here, though players like Greg Garcia could also be non-tendered and let go.  With Rosenthal being hurt next year, the last before he becomes a free agent, the Cardinals could non-tender him and set him free.  Given the fact that the club has never committed to him long-term, that’s a strong possibility.  Of course, they could also sign him to a two-year deal that gives them control if he returns in 2018 and then a full year in 2019, so we’ll have to wait and see.

December 10-14–The winter meetings!  This year, they are also in Orlando, but the setting doesn’t usually mean much.  We all know how crazy those meetings can be, with trades and signings happening seemingly every day.  There’s no guarantee that will happen this year, at least for the Cardinals, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t get their starting pitcher here.  I think much of the other work will be done beforehand, but they could wait and see who is still out there by this time and get into the mix.

January 13-15–Winter Warm Up.  There’s a bit of a lull between the winter meetings and the WWU.  The holidays are in there and much of baseball shuts down.  There might be a little minor activity between the first of the year and WWU, but not very much.  The Warm Up allows that first real rush of baseball, as players talk about what they did in the off-season, new players are introduced to the fans, and everyone gets a little more excited about the upcoming season.

February 13–Pitchers and catchers report.  This date isn’t confirmed as far as I can see but it should be right about there.  Our long winter is over and it is time to see if all the off-season moves will pay off.  We’ve got a long road ahead of us but this is the end of the journey.  Winter may be tough, but we can make it!

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