Today's Three Big MLB Deadlines: Full Free Agency Opens, Qualifying Offers, Options Decisions

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Today’s Three Big MLB Deadlines: Full Free Agency Opens, Qualifying Offers, Options Decisions

Chicago Cubs

Today is notable for three things: (1) free agents can officially negotiate terms and sign deals with new teams as of 4pm CT, (2) Qualifying Offers must be issued by 4pm CT, and (3) all remaining contract options decisions must be finalized by sometime today.

MLB Free Agency

I would not be surprised if there is a flurry of new rumors – maybe with more specifics – as soon as the window to negotiate terms opens up this afternoon, but this is not a salary capped league where getting your preferred deals done ASAP is critical for the rest of your offseason. Do not expect this to look like, for example, what you’re used to seeing when NBA free agency fully opens up, and there are ten major signings done within the first 15 minutes. (I kind of love and hate that.)

The MLB free agency dance usually spreads itself out. Usually, we get a trickle of signings before Thanksgiving, and then a really hot period from Thanksgiving weekend through the week after the Winter Meetings, and then a trickle until Spring Training. When I say “usually,” I’m talking about, well, several years ago at this point – we had the oddly frozen winters a few years ago, the post-pandemic offseason, and then the lockout last year, so it’s been a long time since an offseason has actually looked “usual.”

The other reason I don’t expect a TON of immediate signings today is because of the change in the non-tender deadline and the rostering deadline, both of which are coming next week (rostering deadline for Rule 5 purposes is November 15, non-tender deadline is November 18). Many teams know they’re going to need as many open 40-man spots as possible next week so they can protect prospects and snag guys on waivers. Teams also may want to wait to commit to a free agent now if a quality alternative is going to be non-tendered next week.

That said, if a free agent is ready to agree to terms immediately on a deal that’s too good to pass up, you could always come to terms today or tomorrow or whatever, and then not make it official until sometime next week when it won’t impact your roster plans.

Oh, and if you wanted to re-sign an outgoing free agent before he could sign with another team, this afternoon is your deadline for that.

Qualifying Offers

There’s no suspense here for the Cubs, as they’ll officially extend the one-year, $19.65 Qualifying Offer to Willson Contreras, who reportedly already knows he’s rejecting it.

Other offers will come in today, and there aren’t a ton of edge cases this year, though Mike Petriello got into some of them here at We’ll know for sure which players could be attached to draft pick compensation come this afternoon. For the Cubs, signing a qualified free agent would cost them their second round pick and $500,000 in IFA bonus pool money.

Options Decisions

The bulk of these decisions have already been made and/or reported, with Drew Smyly the only one for the Cubs. Thomas Harrigan has been tracking options decisions here at, and among the semi-interesting remaining ones, you’ve got Carlos Carrasco (no way the Mets let him go, right? it’s only an $11 million decision), Kevin Kiermaier (would a team trade for him today to save the Rays the $2.5 million buyout, and thus get him for one year and $10.5 million?), and Evan Longoria ($13 million club option, $5 million buyout).

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.