The World Series ended last night, which was groovy news for Nationals fans, but it also started the ticking of clocks on various deadlines in the baseball offseason.
The first big clock strike comes on Monday, November 4, which now yields a trio of deadlines: options/opt-out decisions are due, qualifying offer decisions are due, and free agents can sign with new teams.
What that means is that, by Monday, we’ll learn the fate of players with team and player options for next year, as well as players who can opt-out of their contracts (technically those are options, too, but we think about them differently). Many of those decisions will trickle in before Monday’s deadline, including, for example, today’s reveal that Yu Darvish will not be opting out.
For the Cubs, they hold options decisions on Anthony Rizzo, Jose Quintana, Brandon Morrow, Derek Holland, David Phelps, and Kendal Graveman. The Cubs will obviously be exercising options on Rizzo ($14.5 million) and Quintana ($10.5 million). Of the latter four, only Graveman’s ($3 million) is a real possibility to be picked up.
Note that, annually, there are sometimes trade talks in the days leading up to the option deadline as teams holding club options might try to trade a guy rather than actually pay out that salary (i.e., Team A has Player X on a 2020 club option for $10 million, but doesn’t actually want to pay $10 million – so they trade him to Team B, which is happy to have that player for $10 million).
Also by Monday, we’ll know which free agents around baseball are getting qualifying offers (a one-year, $17.8 million contract offer for 2020, which secures the team draft pick compensation if the player declines the offer and winds up signing elsewhere). For the Cubs, only Cole Hamels is a possible recipient, but given his down/injured second half and his age (36), it’s possible he would accept the offer if made. Moreover, because the Cubs are over the luxury tax, the draft pick they’d pick up if he declines and signs elsewhere is after the 4th round (so it ain’t much).
And finally, come Monday, free agents are finally permitted to negotiate, and sign with, new teams. But, if you have followed the baseball offseason at all, you know that virtually no free agents will actually sign on that day. Usually, the first notable free agents start to come off the board in mid-to-late November, with activity picking up in mid-December (Winter Meetings), and then flowing out well into February.
So, stay tuned for rumors and options activity now through Monday, with trade rumors and free agent rumors starting to pick up.