There are a number of signposts throughout the offseason that tell us approximately where we are in the overall story arc of the transaction period. Although signings and trades can start breaking pretty much right after the World Series ends, you typically don’t see the biggest moves starting to sort out until after the arbitration tender deadline on December 2, and on into the Winter Meetings the next week.
And although the rumors can – and do! – start flying right away, too, you often don’t see the most specific and most reliable rumors popping up until the General Manager Meetings kick off a couple weeks after the close of the World Series.
Well, what do you know? The General Manager Meetings are here.
A gathering of top baseball executives and other interested parties, the GM Meetings are taking place in Orlando this week, and the groundwork will be laid for future free agent and trade discussions. Execs will feel each other out on needs and possibilities, agents will try to get in some face time with the clubs they want to talk to about their clients, and it’s possible that some deals will even be consummated. There will also be official MLB business conducted, so you sometimes hear about baseball-wide rumors or decisions (i.e., the play of the game, the governance of transactions, etc.).
Some clubs also use this time to hold their organizational meetings, internally reviewing where a number of things stand throughout the system, and finalizing plans for attacking the offseason.
At the close of the meetings, the qualifying offer acceptance deadline pops up on Thursday. It remains the expectation that all nine free agents who were made a qualifying offer – including Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis – will decline, and thus be attached to draft pick compensation.
What should you expect this week? As if the offseason is ever that predictable …
OK, I will say that I expect a rumor or two about a Cubs relief target, since it’s been largely quiet on that front and I do expect the Cubs to target at least one preferred option early in the offseason. I expect we’ll hear more about the Cubs exploring trades for controlled starting pitchers, as well as plenty of continued Alex Cobb chatter.
We could finally get the officially official announcement on the Cubs’ coaching staff, as well as some very early discussion of where various prospects could begin the 2018 season. (That one’s a little bit of wishful thinking, but it does happen some years, and I’m a sucker for considering those possibilities.)
Widening the scope, you’re going to hear more Giancarlo Stanton trade rumors, and it may well be the case that the ultimate trade – I suspect it’s coming – will arrive early in the offseason, as the teams involved may need to know how that is going to play out before they can move on to the rest of their moves. You’ll hear plenty about Shohei Ohtani, too. Naturally.
We may finally start to hear about how the markets for Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish are taking shape, as those fronts have been completely quiet so far.
And, of course, you’ll hear about stuff that no one is predicting right now, and that will become a rumor thread throughout the offseason. Because that’s a lot of what this week is about: it kicks off so many of the storylines we’ll be following for the next several weeks.
If you like the hot stove season, Spring Training just wrapped up. Welcome to Opening Day.