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Dates, storylines and everything else to know ahead of the 2023 MLB Winter Meetings

The busiest week of baseball’s offseason is set kick off in Nashville on Sunday.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels in the dugout while playing the Detroit Tigers at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 17, 2023 in Anaheim, California. Photo by John McCoy/Getty Images

MLB’s offseason has shown signs of heating up already, but now the Hot Stove is about to truly catch fire: It’s almost time for the 2023 Winter Meetings, in which all 30 teams descend on one location to talk shop, broker deals and maybe enjoy a few drinks at the hotel bar. This is typically the busiest week of baseball’s offseason — last December we saw Jacob deGrom bolt for the Rangers, Trea Turner head to the Phillies, Justin Verlander sign with the Mets, Aaron Judge resign with the Yankees and more, all in the span of about 60 hours — and this year figures to be no different, with possibly the biggest free agent in the sport’s history on the market.

Here’s everything you need to know as Winter Meetings week gets rolling.

Winter Meetings 2023: Dates, location, storylines to watch

When and where

The 2023 Winter Meetings will be at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center in Nashville, Tennessee, from Sunday, December 3 to Wednesday, December 6.

Rumors, trades and signings galore

This is why we’re all here, after all. There’s one question on everyone’s mind ahead of these Winter Meetings: Will Shohei Ohtani sign over the next few days, and which team might be lucky enough to land him? It seems like Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, are content to take as much time as they’d like; they’ve treated the process thus far like a state secret and seem averse to any whiff of drama. And if a deal doesn’t get done in Nashville, it could have knock-on effects on the rest of the free-agent market — any team with even a sliver of a chance at Ohtani is keeping its powder dry until he makes his decision, and if you’re, say, Cody Bellinger, why wouldn’t you wait to see whether the teams that miss out on him turn around and throw all (or at least most) of that money your way?

We’ve already seen some movement in the starting pitcher market, with Aaron Nola headed back to Philly, Sonny Gray signing with the Cardinals and Luis Severino moving across town to the Mets. But there are still plenty of arms remaining, from reigning Cy Young winner Blake Snell to Japanese ace Yoshinobu Yamamoto to Jordan Montgomery, Eduardo Rodriguez, Lucas Giolito and more. Things are a bit thinner on the position-player side, with Bellinger the clear headliner followed by names like Matt Chapman, Rhys Hoskins, Jorge Soler and Kevin Kiermaier. If that doesn’t sound like the most inspiring group, well, welcome to the dilemma all 30 teams will be facing this week.

While last year’s festivities featured plenty of signings, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a blockbuster trade at the Winter Meetings — really, since Giancarlo Stanton got sent to the Yankees in December of 2017. That could come to an end next week, with the Padres certainly seeming like they’re set on trading superstar outfielder Juan Soto. Even if we don’t get that caliber of a deal, though, other intriguing names like pitchers Tyler Glasnow, Corbin Burnes and Dylan Cease as well as position players like Willy Adames, Alex Verdugo and Jorge Polanco figure to be available.

(As a reminder, here are our top 25 free agents as well as the 10 most interesting trade candidates this winter.)

Sunday: Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Era Committee votes

Of course, signings and trades aren’t the only things going on at Winter Meetings. There’s also a full schedule of events, starting on Sunday, when the Hall of Fame’s Contemporary Baseball Era Committee — a 16-person committee responsible for considering managers, executives and umpires, as well as players no longer on the main BBWAA ballot — will meet to to vote on the class of 2024. There are eight men on the ballot this winter: former managers Cito Gaston, Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson and Lou Piniella, umpires Joe West and Ed Montague and executives Hank Peters and Bill White.

Any candidate who receives votes on at least 75 percent of the ballots cast by the 16-person committee will earn election to the Hall and will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 21, 2024, along with any electees from the main BBWAA vote.

Tuesday: The second-ever MLB Draft Lottery

In an effort to curb tanking, in 2022 the league and the MLBPA instituted an NBA-style lottery to determine the top six picks of the next year’s MLB Draft. The 18 non-playoff teams each have a shot at the No. 1 pick, though the worst teams will of course have the highest odds. Here are the odds to land this year’s No. 1 selection in the 2024 draft, per MLB.com:

Athletics: 18.3%
Royals: 18.3%
Rockies: 18.3%
White Sox: 14.7%
Cardinals: 8.3%
Angels: 6.1%
Mets: 4.3%
Pirates: 3.0%
Guardians: 2.0%
Tigers: 1.6%
Red Sox: 1.2%
Giants: 1.0%
Reds: 0.9%
Padres: 0.7%
Yankees: 0.6%
Cubs: 0.4%
Mariners: 0.2%
Nationals: 0.0%

Teams that pay into revenue sharing cannot land in the lottery in back-to-back years, so the Nationals, who had the No. 2 pick in this year’s draft, are ineligible despite finishing with baseball’s fifth-worst record. The lottery determines the top six picks, with the next 12 picks landing in reverse order of the standings. The 12 postseason teams are then ordered by their finish.

Wednesday: The Rule 5 Draft

The Rule 5 Draft marks the unofficial end of the Winter Meetings, held each year at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday — right before everyone heads to the airport.

The draft is a mechanism to prevent teams from burying players in the Minors indefinitely: After a certain number of years on the farm, players must be either added to the 40-man roster or, if not, they become Rule 5 Draft-eligible. By rule, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s MLB roster all season in 2024, otherwise they’ll go through waivers before being offered back to their original team. Teams don’t expect to get difference-makers in the Rule 5 Draft — these are players other teams have willingly made available, after all. Still, while it’s mostly a place to land a middle reliever, platoon bat or low-Minors lottery ticket — and while most players wind up back with their original teams — there are some exceptions. Jose Bautista, for example, was acquired by the Blue Jays in the Rule 5 Draft before breaking out and becoming among the game’s most feared hitters.

Can fans attend the Winter Meetings?

Technically, no: The Winter Meetings are closed to the public, and you can’t walk in and attend the various trade shows and workshops that take place throughout the week; those are for teams and people in the industry. You are, however, free to roam the lobby and hallways of the Gaylord Opryland Resort — it’s a hotel, after all, and it remains open to the public throughout the proceedings. Granted, this isn’t as exciting as it sounds — you won’t see Brian Cashman and A.J. Preller hashing out a Soto trade by the fireplace — but you’ll see some famous faces, particularly team executives. And hey, they have been known to get a little loose with intel as the drinks start flying by the bar late into the night.