Last night’s 10-0 beat down put on by the Royals did two things for us. First, it set the stage for an epic 7th game in the World Series and it gave us the start date for the 0ff-season calendar of events. Given that this off-season figures to be a very key one in the Cubs rebuild process, it seems like it would be good to know some key dates and what they mean.
November 2nd – Last Day for teams to submit qualifying offers to eligible free agents
While this doesn’t directly affect the Cubs in the sense that they need to make any qualifying offers, I do think it may have an effect on the free agent landscape this season. In order to get free agent compensation for a free agent that leaves your team, you must make a qualifying offer to him, which he could then decline and enter the free agent market with a compensation anvil around his neck. We saw this past off-season that it greatly affected Stephen Drew and Kendrys Morales. Both turned down offers from their team and as a result were looked at as if they had leprosy. For Drew, he was forced to wait until after the draft to sign because teams just were not willing to make him an offer because they would be losing a top draft pick. I think we’ll see a lot more guys consider accepting the offer made by their team if they are not top tier guys.
November 3rd - First day free agents may sign with a new team
This is where it all gets started for Theo and Jed. My guess is that we will already have an announcement that Joe Maddon has been hired and so now it’s time to get to work. I think the Cubs will be active this off-season, particularly in the starting pitcher market. Whether that comes via trade or free agency is still to be determined, but we’re close to contending and have tons of payroll flexibility. Put on your seat belts guys. It’s gonna be a fun ride.
November 10th – Last day for free agents to accept the qualifying offer from their prior team
Assuming the player does not accept the team’s offer, they hit the open market with that draft pick compensation anvil around their neck. Here is a breakdown on how the system works:
The system now in place doesn’t entail any arbitrary classifying of free agents. Instead, a team that wishes to receive compensation must submit a “qualifying offer” to the outgoing free agent. A qualifying offer constitutes a one-year proposal worth at least the annual average salary of the top 125 free agents from the previous winter. For this offseason, that comes to a one-year offer of $13.3 million.
If a team makes such a qualifying offer to an outgoing free agent and the free agent signs elsewhere, then his former team will receive a sandwich draft pick between the first and second rounds. The signing team, meanwhile, will forfeit its first-round choice — unless it’s a top-10 pick, in which case the team would give up a second-round pick. The lost picks don’t go to any other team; rather, the teams behind the vanished pick all slide up a slot.
One other important change is now in place: To be entitled to compensation, a team must now have a departing free agent on its roster for the entirety of the season. Under the old framework, a team that acquired a walk-year player at, say, the non-waiver trade deadline could offer that player salary arbitration at season’s end and thus be entitled to compensatory draft picks. That’s no longer permitted. (Source)
The Cubs figure to be active in the market, and do have a top 10 pick in the draft, so that spot will be protected should they go after someone like Jon Lester.
December 2nd – Last day for teams to offer a 2015 contract to unsigned players
This could be an interesting date to watch. This would apply to guys who are not signed to long term deals (guys signed year to year), which happens in your first six years of the league. A player not tendered a contract for 2015 is immediately removed from the 40 man roster, receives no termination pay, and is a free agent. James McDonald would be a guy who figures to be a candidate for this. The key thing to remember with this date is that if you want to make room for other guys to be on the 40 man roster, which you do since there will be free agents and guys eligible for the rule 5 draft that will need to be added, you should really try to make the room by this date to cut some cost.
December 8th – 11th – Winter Meetings & Rule 5 Draft
The Cubs have a few names that are eligible for the draft that would need to be added to the roster. The names of note are:
Gerardo Concepcion – I’d leave him unprotected
C.J. Edwards – Top 5 prospect in the system. He’ll get added to the 40 man roster
AZ Phil does a great job with the full list.
There are other dates that relate to arbitration and things like that, but these are the key dates you need to know and they are coming fast. Get excited.