Big Day on Tap: Free Agency Fully Opens, Options Decisions, Qualifying Offers

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Big Day on Tap: Free Agency Fully Opens, Options Decisions, Qualifying Offers

Chicago Cubs

The World Series concluded five days ago, which means very little in isolation besides us being five days closer to the Cubs returning to action. (Only 143 days until the Cubs open up 2018 in Miami!)

With context, though, today being five days after the World Series actually means a great deal.

First of all, today marks the full opening of free agency. Although eligible players become free agents immediately upon the conclusion of the World Series, and are able to start talking to new teams, they are not eligible to sign with new teams until today. So: hello fully open free agency.

The Cubs have eight free agents:

  • Alex Avila, C
  • Rene Rivera, C
  • Jon Jay, OF
  • Jake Arrieta, SP
  • John Lackey, SP
  • Wade Davis, RP
  • Koji Uehara, RP
  • Brian Duensing, RP

Conceivably, the Cubs could endeavor to retain any or all of those guys, but it’s equally possible that none returns in 2018 for individual reasons.

You can see the entire list of free agents here at MLBTR, and we’ll continue to go over the most notable ones of relevance to the Cubs as free agency proceeds. Although players are eligible to sign with new teams today, you tend not to see too much activity in free agency until mid-to-late November, and then accelerating through December.

BN’er Chris put together helpful custom lists at FanGraphs for all the free agents so that you can compare and contrast stats easily.

Related to the free agent class, decisions on player and club options are due by today – which could increase or decrease that free agent pool. The Cubs do not have any notable option decisions today, and most options decisions this year were (1) obvious, and (2) already made public.

Sometimes you see trade activity in advance of options decisions (because a team with the option may see value in the player, but not actually want to retain him – so they seek to trade the player while they still control his rights). Today, again, there aren’t many sexy options decisions outstanding, so I don’t foresee a lot of activity today tied, specifically, to options decisions.

Furthermore, today is also qualifying offer decision day. Teams must decide by 4 pm CT today whether they will offer outgoing free agents a one-year, $17.4 million contract for 2018. Doing so ensures that they will receive some draft pick compensation if the player ultimately signs elsewhere.

The new CBA changed the rules in this area significantly, so you’ll want to read up on the more detailed analysis if you want the particulars.

For the Cubs, Jake Arrieta and Wade Davis will receive qualifying offers today, so there’s not a lot of mystery there. More interestingly will be the decisions around baseball for other outgoing free agents – if they are guys the Cubs may pursue, knowing that they’re now attached to draft pick compensation is a highly relevant factor in that pursuit. For example, word broke yesterday that the Rays intend to make Alex Cobb a qualifying offer.

Players will have 10 days to decide on whether to accept the qualifying offer, and the Cubs figure to use that time to, at a minimum, talk to Arrieta and Davis to see if they will be at all within the same ballpark for contract demands/expectations. I would not expect either player to re-sign during that window, but having some talks would not be a surprise.

And there’s one other deadline today, albeit a minor one – literally. Today is the deadline by which teams must ink impending minor league free agents to new deals for 2018 or add them to the 40-man roster, lest they become full free agents. (Note: this is different than the deadline for adding minor league players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.)

Arizona Phil has the details and the Cubs-related particulars here at TCR, and the most interesting bit will be what the Cubs decide to do with guys like Matt Carasiti and John Andreoli if they decline to sign a new minor league deal with the Cubs by today. Would the Cubs add them to the 40-man roster to hang onto them? Each has the potential to be a big league contributor in a complementary role as soon as next season. Carasiti, in particular, seems like a guy the Cubs would really want to hang onto given their bullpen needs, and his solid performance at AAA for the Rockies and Cubs last year (he was acquired at midseason in a trade for Zac Rosscup).

So, then: busy day on tap, and we’ll track along with everything. The offseason is really, truly here. If you want to check in on any of the other upcoming dates and deadlines, you can always peek at the post up there in the navigation banner – or click right here.

Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.