All right. So we have a deal. Holy crap. Setting aside the coming baseball, that means we now have to deal with Offseason Part Two, which is going to last all of two days before players report for Spring Training. To be sure, much of the “offseason” is going to have to play out during Spring Training and on into the season – that’s just logistics – but a lot will happen in the next 72 hours.
Here are the things that still have to be wrapped up:
Free agency. There are over a hundred MLB-caliber free agents still unsigned, and that process can reportedly start again tonight. It’s going to be madness. So much more on this soon.
Trades. If you’ve had one in the can for months – or back-channeled illicitly during the lockout – you’re gonna want to finalize that bad boy immediately so the players can report with their new teams.
The Rule 5 Draft. Remember that? Is it even going to happen? We don’t know for sure, but, 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. I guess we’ll find out soon. Cancelled.
Arbitration salary exchange. That typically would have happened back in January, 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. That is probably going to bleed way into Spring Training at this point. (UPDATE: Ken Rosenthal reports that the exchange date has been set for March 22.)
Arbitration hearings. The ones taking place will require time to prepare for, to present, and then for the arbitration panel to make decisions. Preparation was 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, and could conceivably go into the season. (UPDATE: Per Ken Rosenthal, yup, it’s gonna bleed into the season.)
Spring Training rosters. Most of this could be sorted out during the lockout. 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 … tomorrow.
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. This year, they just won’t.
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. Again, Spring Training starts in about three days.