Contreras Officially a Free Agent, Significant Offseason Date Changes, New Rules, and Other Cubs Bullets

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Contreras Officially a Free Agent, Significant Offseason Date Changes, New Rules, and Other Cubs Bullets

Chicago Cubs

Here’s something weird about the season having just ended: we just saw our last MLB game without a pitch clock. Ditto extreme shifts and smaller bases, though I think we know that the pitch clock is going to be the most visible and notable change. At least for the first week or so – if it happens the way it did in the minors, according to everyone who watches minor league baseball closely, we’ll stop noticing the clock after about a week. All we’ll notice instead is that the game just seems crisper, better-paced, and without as much dead time.

  • Also with the season ending, Willson Contreras is now officially a free agent. Not a Chicago Cub anymore, as of this moment, for the first time in his entire professional baseball career. It’s sad. There is still the matter of the Qualifying Offer (coming on Thursday), but that feels like a formality at this point. He’ll reject that offer, and then start negotiating with other teams. In all likelihood, today is “the day” he departed.
  • Wade Miley is the Cubs’ other free agent as of today, with Drew Smyly to follow if either side declines his mutual option on Thursday. Jed Hoyer indicated an interest in bringing both lefties back, though the rumors have been much stronger on the Smyly front.
  • There are three very big date-related changes this year that I want to make sure everyone has a chance to see, so I’m mentioning it in multiple spots.
  • The first is smaller, but still very notable: instead of having 10 days to decide on a Qualifying Offer, this year it’s just 5 days, per Jon Morosi. That means we’re going to know who has accepted or rejected Qualifying Offers by Tuesday, November 15. That, in turn, is somewhat important for the next deadline change, and it’s a biggy.
  • The second is a big one. It’s the one I mentioned yesterday, and subsequently had confirmed by Jordan Bastian: Friday, November 18 *IS* the new tender deadline. That’s the one that used to be December 2, but has now been moved way up, which actually does make a lot of sense (so many arbitration-level guys had to wait through the whole first month of the offseason before even knowing whether they would be free agents or not). So, then, by next Friday, teams will have to decide which players they want to tender contracts to for 2023. This applies to players who are under team control but not yet signed to a contract (i.e., pre-arbitration and arbitration-level players). The Cubs’ arbitration-eligible players are discussed here.
  • The third is another big one, and it is that the deadline for placing Rule 5 eligible prospects on the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft has also moved up! It’s now November 15, so that Tuesday is going to feature both this deadline and the Qualifying Offer decision deadline. And then the non-tender deadline is just a few days later! My lord. That week is going to be NUTS. I’m gonna guess you’ll see some early non-tenders so that teams can try to coordinate some moves for these two deadlines at the same time. I would expect the Cubs to come down with loads of non-tenders, loads of prospect protection decisions, and possibly a waiver claim or trade or two. There’s just SO MUCH roster shuffling around the league that takes place on EACH of those deadlines, which used to be two weeks apart. Now they’re just three days apart. Yowsa.
  • Matt Mervis competed in the AFL Home Run Derby last night, coming up juuuuust short of the final:
  • The AFL Fall Stars Game – featuring Mervis and Bailey Horn from the Cubs – is at 3pm CT at Sloan Park, and will air on MLB Network, while streaming on MLB.com.
  • Astros catcher Martin Maldonado was quietly playing down the stretch and through the postseason with a broken bone in his throwing hand and a sports hernia. This is an Astros team that also had Christian Vazquez on the roster, if you want to know how highly they regarded the “soft factors” that Maldonado must’ve brought to the game. Because he was still starting pretty regularly over Vazquez, who also does that stuff really well! (Consider the bigger-picture lesson here: catchers who call a good game, frame well, make adjustments, evaluate pitchers on the fly, etc. … probably pretty darn valuable!)
  • A profile on Seiya Suzuki in a magazine in Japan, and I’d really like to read a translation – haven’t found it yet, though:
  • Indeed looks awesome:
  • Kind of an “oof” point here from Mike Petriello:
  • A reminder that Harper, who was limited to DH duties, reportedly has a partial tear in his UCL. So if you’re talking about Tommy John surgery, he would possibly be able to DH again within five or six months, maybe missing a month or two of the season. A return to the field would take upwards of a year, so that is probably unaffected by the postseason run. But that first month of DH’ing, yeah, the deep run might’ve cost them a bit in 2023 (not that anyone with the Phillies would trade it).

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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.