For the first time in franchise history, the Texas Rangers are World Series champions. The champagne has barely begun to dry from their celebration on Wednesday night, but while Texas still has plenty of celebrating to do — and a championship parade to attend in Arlington on Friday — it’s time for the rest of us to turn our attention to what should be a very busy offseason. MLB never sleeps, after all, and there are some significant events already right around the corner. Here are all the important dates and deadlines to know as the 2023-24 offseason gets rolling.
2023-24 MLB offseason schedule
Nov. 2: That’s right, we’ve already reached Hot Stove season. As of 9 a.m. ET on Thursday, all eligible players (i.e., those with six-plus years of service time) have become free agents. It’s important to note that they can’t actually sign with teams just yet — they have to wait five days for that. This first window is an exclusive negotiating period in which the player can only talk terms with his previous team.
Nov. 5: The Gold Glove winners in each league will be announced during a live ESPN broadcast at 7:30 p.m. ET. Mookie Betts and Julio Rodriguez are among the finalists this year.
Nov. 6: Finalists for the other major awards — Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young and MVP — will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast beginning at 6 p.m. ET. There are three finalists for each award in each league, drawn from voting that concluded at the end of the regular season. Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shohei Ohtani are expected to take home Most Valuable Player honors in the NL and AL, respectively.
Nov. 6: There are some exceptions to this rule, but for the most part, contract options have to be decided on by this date — whether they’re controlled by the team, the player or they’re a mutual option (which, if we’re being honest, are a very silly invention, largely a way to shift money to next year’s payroll). Among the notable option decisions this winter: White Sox infielder Tim Anderson ($14 million club option), Marlins first baseman Josh Bell (who can opt out of his one-year, $16.5 million player option after a great second half), Cubs veteran Kyle Hendricks ($16 million club option), and Tigers lefty Eduardo Rodriguez (three-year, $49 million player option).
That’s not all that goes down on the sixth, though. It’s also the deadline for teams to tender their eligible free agents the qualifying offer — a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries in the sport (which comes out to around $20.5 million this year). To be eligible for the qualifying offer, a player must have spent the entire 2023 season with his team and never received the QO previously. For example: the Rangers cannot extend Jordan Montgomery the qualifying offer because he was traded at midseason, while the Cubs can’t extend it to Marcus Stroman because he accepted one from the Mets after the 2020 season.
Nov. 6: Once option and QO decisions are out of the way, the five-day exclusive negotiating period ends and free agency well and truly begins — at this point, players can negotiate and sign with any team they choose. Granted, MLB’s free agency is a marathon, not a sprint, largely because it’s not a salary-cap league in which players are worried about losing a game of financial musical chairs. We won’t see a rash of signings on day one (or even week one, really), but this is still the starting line.
Nov. 7-9: The GM Meetings, this year set to be held in Scottsdale, Arizona. Generally speaking, these meetings cover largely off-the-field matters like rule changes. Still, getting all 30 GMs in one place is bound to produce at least some kindling for the hot stove — just last year, for example, the Braves dealt Jake Odorizzi to the Rangers. Don’t expect a ton of fireworks here, though, as most execs are still laying the groundwork for moves they’ll finalize at a later date.
Nov. 13: Rookies of the Year will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast at 6 p.m. ET. Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll and Orioles infielder Gunnar Henderson are considered the prohibitive favorites.
Nov. 14: Managers of the Year will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast at 6 p.m. ET. This one is a bit more wide open, with Craig Counsell and Torey Lovullo among the favorites in the NL and Brandon Hyde and Bruce Bochy among the favorites on the AL.
Nov. 14: The deadline for free agents to accept or reject their qualifying offers. Players who accept will sign a one-year, $20.5 million contract and remain with their current team — while ineligible to be included in trades without their consent until June 15. Players who reject their qualifying offers become free agents, but with a catch: Their former team will receive a draft pick from their new team should they sign elsewhere. So, for example, whoever wins the Ohtani sweepstakes will have to fork over a draft pick to the Angels — a small price to pay, to be sure, but a price nonetheless.
Nov. 14: The deadline for teams to add eligible Minor Leaguers to the 40-man roster, thereby protecting them from the Rule 5 Draft. Generally speaking, college players drafted no later than 2020 and high school players drafted no later than 2019 are Rule 5-eligible this winter, as are players signed internationally no later than 2019.
Nov. 14-16: The Owners Meetings in Arlington, Tex. Unlike GMs, MLB owners meet quarterly to cover big-picture issues, and these are rarely a source of hot stove rumors. These meetings, however, will be particularly notable, as it’s where the owners will vote on the Athletics’ proposed relocation to Las Vegas. The A’s need 22 votes from the other 29 owners to approve the move.
Nov. 15: Cy Young winners will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast at 6 p.m. ET. Yankees righty Gerrit Cole will almost certainly win his first award in the AL, while the NL is a bit more up in the air — with Padres lefty Blake Snell the current betting favorite.
Nov. 16: Last but certainly not least, the MVP of each league will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast at 6 p.m. ET.
Nov. 17: The deadline for teams to offer their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players (basically, everyone yet to hit free agency) a contract for 2024 — otherwise known as the non-tender deadline. Players who do not receive one are considered “non-tendered” and become free agents; it doesn’t happen often, but it’s usually a player whose team determines that their salary in arbitration has begun to outweigh their performance on the field. Last year, notable non-tenders included Cody Bellinger and Jeimer Candelario, each of whom went on to enjoy a bounce-back season.
Nov. 20: The 2024 Hall of Fame ballot will be released, and the voting — and, inevitably, lots of debate — begins. Adrián Beltré, Joe Mauer, and Chase Utley are among the first-timers set to join the ballot this year, while this will be Gary Sheffield’s (among others’) tenth and final year of eligibility.
Dec. 3-6: After a generally dormant first few weeks, here’s where the stove officially gets hot: It’s the Winter Meetings, this year held in in Nashville. With all 30 teams in attendance — plus plenty of agents getting face-time with those teams — it’s the busiest spot on the offseason calendar, featuring plenty of trades and free-agent signings.
Dec. 5: The MLB Draft lottery, which will be held during a live MLB Network broadcast. In an effort to curb tanking, MLB and the MLBPA instituted an NBA-style lottery to determine the top six picks. 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:
White Sox: 14.7%
Red Sox: 1.2%
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.
Dec. 6: The Rule 5 Draft. 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.
Jan. 12: Deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures for 2024. The player files what he believes he should be paid, while the team files with what they believe the player should be paid. Note that this is only the filing deadline: The two sides can, and almost always do, agree to a contract before things actually reach arbitration. If they’re still at an impasse, though, then the arbitration process begins.
Jan. 15: The 2024 international signing period opens at 9 a.m. ET. The annual signing period used to run from July 2nd to June 25th, but that was pushed back to January because of the pandemic, and now the new start date is permanent. Here’s MLB.com’s list of the top 50 international prospects for 2024.
Jan. 23: The 2024 Hall of Fame class will be announced during a live MLB Network broadcast at 6 p.m. ET. The ballot is revealed in November, votes are compiled in the following weeks and then the results are announced in late January, otherwise a dead period on the offseason calendar. Among non-first-time nominees, Todd Helton Helton was the closest to getting in without actually getting in last year: He received 72.2% of the vote, just shy of the 75% is needed for induction. Beltré, Helton, and Billy Wagner Wagner appear to have the best chance at getting into the Hall of Fame this voting cycle.
Jan. 29 to Feb. 16: Arbitration hearings. Inevitably, a few arbitration-eligible players and their teams will be unable to come to terms on a contract, and they wind up in front of an arbitration panel. Each side states their case — these hearings can often engender some bad blood, as the team gets put in the awkward position of publicly denigrating its own player in the name of arguing for a lower salary number — and then the three-person panel picks one number or the other. Luis Arraez, Corbin Burnes, Max Fried and Kyle Tucker were among the players to go to an arbitration hearing last offseason.
Mid-February: We’ve finally made it: Camps open across Florida and Arizona as spring training officially begins. Each team sets their own reporting dates for pitchers and catchers and then position players, though they’re usually all up and running by the second full week of February. Cactus League and Grapefruit League play each begin on Feb. 22, and all 30 teams will be action by Feb. 24.
March 20-21: The Seoul Series. The Dodgers and Padres will open the 2024 season with two games in Seoul, South Korea, marking MLB’s first-ever regular-season games in the country. Following this series, the Dodgers and Padres will return to Arizona and play their last few spring training games before resuming their regular seasons the following week.
March 28: Speaking of: It’s Opening Day 2024. All 30 clubs will be in action on the 28th, featuring plenty of unique interleague matchups given the new, balanced schedule — in which every team plays at least one series with every other team in the Majors, regardless of divisional alignment.