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2020-21 MLB Offseason Preview

The year 2020 has been like none other. 

After a 60-game sprint of a season by MLB, a unique offseason begins Sunday.

What to know entering a MLB offseason like none other:

  1. Dates to know:

Nov. 1 – Free agency begins.

Starting at 5 p.m., MLB free agents will be allowed to negotiate and sign with any team. No, this is not like the NBA where players sign the instant the clock starts, but it’s the beginning to a long, chess-match-like offseason. 

Nov. 1 is also the final day teams are eligible to offer the $18.9 million qualifying offer.

Nov. 11 – Deadline to accept/reject qualifying offer.

So far, Trevor Bauer (Reds), Kevin Gausman (Giants), DJ LeMahieu (Yankees), J.T. Realmuto (Phillies), George Springer (Astros) and Marcus Stroman (Mets) are the only players to receive the qualifying offer. Players have until Nov. 11 to accept or reject it. If rejected, the players will officially become free agents.

Nov. 20 – Deadline for teams to protect Rule 5 eligible players to their 40-man roster.

Most teams will fill their 40-man roster by this deadline with minor league players they want to protect. College players drafted in 2017 or earlier and high school players drafted 2016 and earlier will be eligible for the draft this winter. 

Dec. 2 – Non-tender deadline.

The non-tender deadline is when a team has to decide whether or not to tender a contract to pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players for the 2021 season.

This offseason, expect more non-tendered players than ever before. Teams will want to save money by non-tendering players who are set to make more money than the team values them at. 

If non-tendered, the players become free agents.

Dec. 10 – Rule 5 Draft.

The Rule 5 Draft is normally nothing exciting. But, with the unique offseason and teams looking to preserve money, you could see teams choosing the Rule 5 Draft to find new acquisitions this year. 

Jan. 15 – Deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to agree on a salary. 

Arbitration-eligible players will submit what they believe an appropriate salary is by this day. If the team and player can not agree on the same salary, they will go to a hearing. 

Feb. 27 – Spring training begins / April 1 – Opening Day 2021

Let the games begin.

  1. Free agents to watch:

-RHP Trevor Bauer – After a 2020 campaign that may give Bauer the Cy Young Award, he hits the free market. 

Nobody does things like the way Bauer does. After vlogging his entire season, he plans on doing the same this offseason. He continues to be outspoken about how he plans on signing only one-year contracts, but it’ll be interesting to see whether or not he pulls the trigger.

Best fits: Reds, Mets, Padres, Angels, Blue Jays, Rays, Giants, Yankees, Marlins.

-CF George Springer – After being a powerful force in the Houston Astros lineup the last seven years, he hits the open market. Expect teams to be salivating at the 31-year-old who has posted a career .852 OPS. 

Best fits: Astros, Mets, Indians, Rangers, Reds, Pirates, Giants. 

-C J.T. Realmuto – Realmuto enters free agency for the first time of his career the most highly-coveted catcher in all of baseball. Expect Realmuto to get this offseason’s largest contract.

Best fits: Phillies, Angels, Mets, Padres, Cardinals. 

  1. Who’s on the trade market?

-C Gary Sanchez – The Yankee catcher continues to struggle behind the plate in the Bronx. Don’t be surprised if the Yankees move on from the former slugger.

-SS Francisco Lindor – Is this the year the Indians finally move on from Lindor? Trade rumors have surrounded Lindor for multiple seasons now. But, after a season where he only posted a .750 OPS, a career worst, it’ll be interesting to see a potential package the Indians would receive. They are looking to get money off the books, as they showed when they waived Brad Hand last week. 

3B Kris Bryant – Bryant took a gigantic step back in 2020, hitting .206 with a .644 OPS in 34 games. The 28-year-old is set to hit the open market after the 2021 season, so with the Cubs already committing a lot of money to many of their young players, maybe it’s time to move on from the former MVP.

Keep up with all things MLB Offseason related at @Tom_Seipp on Twitter.

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