The World Series is over, signaling the official start of the MLB offseason. While it is uncertain what the 2020 offseason will look like due to a shortened regular season played without fans, teams around Major League Baseball will be looking for fill holes in their rosters in preparation for the 2021 season. The Atlanta Braves captured their third straight NL East crown and advanced all the way to the NLCS before bowing out after losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Atlanta’s young core will remain in place, there will be several roster questions that they will need to answer. Here is a look at some of the important dates to keep an eye on throughout the offseason.
Free Agency Opens - (Five days after World Series ends)
Eligible players will file for free agency the day after the World Series ends. That also begins the five-day quiet period where teams can negotiate with their own free agents but are unable to sign anyone. Teams also must decide whether to extend one-year, $18.9 million Qualifying Offers to any of their free agents.
The Braves currently have 10 players set to file for free agency: Mike Foltynewicz, Shane Greene, Cole Hamels, Adeiny Hechavarria, Nick Markakis, Mark Melancon, Marcell Ozuna, Pablo Sandoval, and Josh Tomlin. Foltynewicz would have been arbitration eligible but was dropped from the 40-man roster at the beginning of the regular season. He will actually be a minor-league free agent but I have included him here to address his status. Ozuna would normally have been a perfect candidate to receive a qualifying offer but he received one from the Cardinals last offseason and thus cannot be given another.
Team Options Deadline - (Five Days after World Series ends)
Darren O’Day is the only Braves player that currently has a team option for the 2021 season. Atlanta can pick up his option for $3.5 million or pay him a $500,000 buyout.
Injured List Reinstatement - (Five days after World Series ends)
Players that are currently on the 60-day injured list must be added back to the 40-man roster. Atlanta currently has three players who fit this criteria: Philip Pfeifer, Mike Soroka, Jeremy Walker. There won’t be an immediate roster crunch, though, because of all the free agents-to-be noted above.
TBA - GM Meetings (Remote)
These aren’t the Winter Meetings, those are down below. The league announced in September that the GM Meetings will be held remotely due to the pandemic. The exact date that these meetings will take place is unknown.
November 3 - Rawlings Gold Glove Awards Announced
The Rawlings Gold Glove Awards will be handed out on ESPN at 7 p.m. The Braves currently have three finalists in shortstop Dansby Swanson, centerfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. and pitcher Max Fried.
November 2 - BBWAA Awards Finalists Announced
Finalists will be announced for BBWAA Awards including Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and MVP at 6 p.m. on MLB Network. Freddie Freeman is one of the favorites to take home the MVP Award for the National League.
November 2/7 - Deadlines to Extend/Accept/Decline Qualifying Offers
Teams will have until five days after the end of the World Series to extend a qualifying offer to their free agents. The players will then have 10 days to decide whether or not to accept it.
November 5 - Silver Slugger Awards Announced
Silver Slugger Awards named for the top hitter at each position. Freeman, Ozuna and Travis d’Arnaud could be in the running.
November 11-14 BBWAA Awards
- November 9 - Rookies of the Year Announced
- November 10 - Managers of the Year Announced
- November 11 - Cy Young Awards Announced
- November 12 - MVP Awards Announced
November 20 - Rule 5 protection deadline
This is the deadline for players to be added to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft. The biggest Braves prospect that is Rule 5 Draft-eligible is Kyle Muller.
December 2 - Non-tender deadline
Deadline to tender contracts to players still under team control. This is mostly where you’ll see some arbitration-eligible players get non-tendered if the Braves are not interested in bringing them back for next season. Atlanta currently has nine players who are arbitration eligible this offseason: Johan Camargo, Charlie Culberson, Grant Dayton, Adam Duvall, Max Fried, Luke Jackson, A.J. Minter, Mike Soroka and Dansby Swanson.
December 7-10 - MLB Winter Meetings in Dallas
The Winter Meetings are scheduled to be held in Dallas starting December 7 and continuing through December 10. In all likelihood, these will be cancelled due to the pandemic. That could mean even less activity than the lower level of offseason maneuvering already expected.
December TBA - Rule 5 Draft
Minor League players not on a team’s 40-man roster who have been in professional baseball for four (for college players) or five (for high school players) Rule 5 Drafts are eligible to be selected. During the Major League portion of the draft, any player selected must remain on that team’s active roster for the entire season or be offered back to their original club.
January 15 - Exchange of Arbitration Figures
Arbitration-eligible players and their clubs exchange potential salary figures. Atlanta currently has nine players who are eligible for arbitration (assuming none are non-tendered). The Braves may elect to avoid arbitration with many of these players to work out one-year contracts agreeable to both sides, or long-term extensions. To the extent the Braves remain a “file and trial team,” they will treat this as a hard deadline for further negotiations — any player not signed to a one-year deal after this date will head to arbitration (see below).
January 15 - 2021 International Signing period opens
The international signing period was pushed back from its normal July 2 date due to the pandemic. The 2020-21 signing period will begin on January 15 and will continue through December 15, 2021. This is meaningful to the Braves who are still operating under sanctions by MLB but they will have a $1,572,000 bonus pool for the upcoming period.
February 1 - Arbitration hearings begin
If the teams and the players can’t come to an agreement then they will go to arbitration where a panel will hear player and club presentations and will then decide to award the player his submission or the club’s.