A Reminder That, Whenever the Second Offseason Begins, There's Still a Ton to Do

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A Reminder That, Whenever the Second Offseason Begins, There’s Still a Ton to Do

Chicago Cubs

The start of negotiations after 40+ days of lockout have me thinking about what will happen once a deal is struck. Again, that isn’t because I think tomorrow’s proposal from the owners will be even close to something that ends the lockout. It won’t. It’ll probably be bad. But the offer coming tomorrow seems at least partly designed with some hope that a deal can be struck in time to have a normal Spring Training.

But that’s the part that got me thinking. In a world where the goal is to have a “normal” Spring Training, you’re going to have to have a substantial chunk of time to wrap up the offseason. And if reporting for players – again, in a normal Spring Training – is February 16, is there really enough time to do all the offseason stuff and then have normal reporting?

When we think about what’s left in the offseason, we pretty much exclusively think about free agency. And, to be sure, there’s still a heckuva a lot of that left to sort out. You frequently hear two weeks mentioned as enough time to finish free agency, and maybe that’s right. Ultra-condensed for negotiations and back-up plans and the like, but it’s conceivable.

But then there are also trades to work out, and that can take a while, especially when they are being considered in parallel with free agent options. Teams don’t *have* to make trades, of course, but we know at least one major seller – the A’s – has been planning a bunch of trades this offseason. That’s going to cause disruptions in the free agent market, and it’d have to sort itself out in a matter of days if a two-week second offseason was going to be enough.

That’s not actually all that has to be done, though!

The Rule 5 Draft. Remember that? It’s still tentatively expected to take place when the lockout ends, and although it isn’t the highest of stakes, it’s not wholly unimportant. Teams can mostly be prepared for it in advance, so at least there’s that.

Arbitration salary exchange. That typically would be coming this week, as arbitration-eligible players and their teams would exchange requested salaries for 2022. That usually means a feverish pace of negotiations to avoid arbitration, and maybe even work out a long-term deal.

Arbitration hearings. The ones taking place will require time to prepare for, to present, and then for the arbitration panel to make decisions. Preparation is no doubt already underway, but without salary figures to work with, there’s only so much you can do. This one will definitely require some time.

Spring Training rosters. Most of this can be sorted out now and/or commensurate with free agency decisions. But the fringe big leaguers who wind up having to take minor league deals and get a non-roster invite to Spring Training – and the related logistics for teams figuring out space, especially in COVID Times, will require a little time. It’s the kind of thing an organization and this group of players have several weeks to sort out in late January and early February. This year, they might have, what, a few days?

Extension negotiations. Not a requirement, but the time just before Spring Training gets going, and then the early part of Spring Training, is usually heavy on extension talks and deals. This might be impacted less than other areas, but it’s something teams and players would no doubt love to have a little time for.

International reporting. For some international players, their visa process doesn’t kick in until they have date-certain on when their work in the States is going to begin. That, too, takes time. And if you don’t want your international players to be behind everyone else, they will need time.

Take all that stuff, and then all of free agency and trades, and you really quickly come to the conclusion that it’s hard to imagine anything less than two weeks being sufficient to take care of this stuff. Even that feels like a breakneck pace.

So, then, if a deal isn’t actually done within a few weeks – and there’s still no reason to expect that – I would think Spring Training is going to have to be pushed back a bit. Maybe some kind of staggered reporting, and the first few games are lost? At a minimum? Otherwise, how can you really get everything done in a week or whatever?

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.