Starting tomorrow, representatives from each of the 30 MLB teams, together with others who have an interest in the offseason, will gather in Orlando, Florida for three days. Called the General Manager Meetings, the three-day session strikes me each year as ushering in the part of the offseason we associate with the “hot stove.”
For reasons both procedural and practical, you almost never see a significant free agent signing until after the GM Meetings (though you obviously do see some internal moves between the end of the regular season and the start of the GM Meetings – e.g., the Cubs re-signing Ryan Sweeney). Front offices are frequently involved in housekeeping items during the postseason (if they’re not playing) and in the immediate aftermath, so the meetings this week offer an opportunity to start laying meaningful foundation for the moves that will follow. That means both free agent signings and trades.
Unlike at the Winter Meetings in early December, it’s not likely we’ll see any trades or many free agent signings consummated this week, but teams will be taking each others’ temperatures (and teams/agents ditto) for that kind of thing. And it’s likely we’ll hear a number of rumors over the next few days, even if they are very, very exploratory at this phase.
Not coincidently, tomorrow is also the deadline for players to accept or reject qualifying offers. As discussed last week, 13 players received qualifying offers of $14.1 million for a one-year deal. Until those players officially make their qualifying offer decision, it’s difficult for the offseason to begin in earnest, given that teams don’t yet know which of the top players will be available, and what it will cost to sign them. From the sound of things, no player will be accepting their offer, and we’ll confirm tomorrow when that’s all locked in.
In the meantime, the GM Meetings get underway tomorrow, and the meatiest part of the offseason begins. Of course, it’s possible that one small thing – like Masahiro Tanaka’s posting process not yet getting underway – could hold everything else up in a waterfall style for weeks. You just never know.