Shout out to the Boston Red Sox for taking care of business in Game 5 and allowing the MLB offseason to officially begin a few days sooner.
The offseason is an incredibly fun time for fans, as we can cook up an infinite number of scenarios that we would like to see play out for our teams. We can debate with each other until we’re blue in the face, or the team makes a move to alter the conversation.
Although the games are truly won and lost from March to October, the first steps towards a championship come in the winter. And as we hope for a thrilling offseason from our St. Louis Cardinals, it’s a good chance to lay out the MLB offseason schedule and consider what each date means for the Cardinals.
Oct. 29 – Eligible Players Become Free Agents
Wainwright will be returning for 2019 on a 1-year deal with a base salary of $2 Million and several appearance incentives, the team announced Monday.
The Cardinals also need to return 4 60-day DL players to the 40-man roster in Fowler, Wacha, Gregerson, and Reyes. 3 free agents clear some space, but someone else will have to be released to add all 4.
Oct. 31 – Deadline For Contract Option Decisions
The Cardinals do not have any players this season with an option for 2019. This date can be interesting for the Cardinals, as we will get a more complete picture of the free agent market as team/player options are picked-up, declined, or opt-outs are exercised by players.
Nov. 2 – Deadline to Tender Qualifying Offers
For the Cardinals, this date doesn’t mean much. Adams and Ross are unlikely to return and only Norris would be eligible for a qualifying offer, as the other two arrived via in-season trade. As the QO is set around $18M for 2019, Norris will not be receiving that offer.
Nov. 3 – Open Free Agency Begins
As of this date, the exclusive negotiating window will be expired and all unsigned free agents will be able to speak with all teams on the market. For the Cardinals, this is when they can begin any major pursuits (see below) that they may have planned.
Nov. 4 – Gold Glove Winners Announced
Two Cardinals, Yadier Molina and Kolten Wong were announces among the “finalists” for these awards last week. Finalist is a fancy word that is used when Rawlings releases the names of the Top 3 finishers at each position. Which of those three actually achieved the highest score will be revealed on this date. Wong was announced as the Fielding Bible award winner at 2B on Monday. Molina is looking for his first Gold Glove since 2015.
Nov. 5 – BBWAA Awards Finalists
This will be interesting to watch, as Matt Carpenter — likely to received plenty of down-ballot MVP votes — could creep into the Top 3. Additionally, it will be interesting to see if Jack Flaherty was able to crack a Top 3 that is sure to include Ronald Acuña and Juan Soto in the Rookie-of-the-Year voting. We probably won’t see Mikolas pop up here.
Nov. 5 – MLB Executive of the Year
Mo and Girsch aren’t in the running this season.
Nov. 6-8 – General Managers Meetings, Carlsbad, CA
This is when the offseason actually starts to feel real. Although they are there mostly to discuss league-wide issues, there will inevitably be the start of discussions on the trade front. With the Cardinals holding a couple of contracts that they would surely be interested in getting out from under, they could start putting their feelers out during this trip.
Nov. 7 – Defensive Players of the Year Annouced
Again, Cardinals fans can be alert for Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina in this conversation. Maybe Harrison Bader sneaks into this.
Nov. 8 – Silver Sluggers Announced
Among Cardinals, Matt Carpenter has the best shot at this award. Among 1B, his 138 wRC+ ranks behind Paul Goldschmidt (144) and ahead of Freddie Freeman (137). For 3B, he trails Anthony Rendon (140) and is ahead of Eugenio Saurez (135) and Nolan Arenado (135). There is an outside chance, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Nov. 8-15 – Japan All-Star Tour
Yadier Molina and John Brebbia will be taking part in this international tour.
Nov. 12 – Deadline to Accept/Reject Qualifying Offers
Again, this date won’t affect the Cardinals. As far as the external marketplace, most free agents will have made their decision on these offers long before this deadline.
Nov. 12 – Rookie of the Year Announced
Unfortunately for our own Jack Flaherty, he had to compete with two superb talents in Acuña and Soto. Still, it will be interesting to see where he finishes.
Nov. 13 – Manager of the Year Announced
Maybe if the Cardinals would have raced to a division title under Shildt he would have gotten consideration, but don’t expect to hear his name…this year.
Nov. 14-15 – Owner’s Meetings in Atlanta
Nothing to see here, its a business meeting.
Nov. 14 – Cy Young Awards Announced
The most interesting part of this day will be checking the final voting results to see where Miles Mikolas ended up.
Nov. 15 – MVP Awards Announced
This one is similar to the Cy Young, in that the biggest intrigue for Cardinals fans will be seeing where Matt Carpenter winds up in the results.
Nov. 19 – Comeback Players of the Year announced
This one is interesting. Mikolas, after early career struggles and 3 year hiatus in Japan, could get strong consideration after a really good season. Competition would include the likes of Clay Buchholz, Noah Syndergaard, and Zack Wheeler.
Nov. 20 – Designated Hitter of the Year announced
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Nov. 20 – Deadline for Protecting Rule 5 Eligible Players
This is an important one. The Cardinals have 4 or 5 minor league players that need to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft and placed on the 40-man roster. Without going into detail (there is a lot of roster talk in this piece), the team has to make some tough calls on the bottom end of the roster. This could lead to small trades (think: Aledmys Diaz last winter) or releases to make room. Keep an eye out as this date gets close.
Nov. 26-29 – MLBPA Executive Board Meeting
This one isn’t Cardinals centric, but tune in for news around this meeting. The players were willing to bend too far for the last CBA and are regretting it. They look to draw a harder line when they negotiate the next deal. The current CBA doesn’t expire until December 2021.
Nov. 30 – Non-Tender Deadline
This date will be interesting for players such as Greg Garcia, Dominic Leone, and Chasen Shreve all are set for arbitration eligibility. With a tight roster, one of them may be seeing the door, if they haven’t already to make room for Rule 5 players.
Additionally, this non-tender deadline can add some more intriguing players to the free agent market. Keep in mind, 2006 World Series MVP David Eckstein was signed by the Cardinals after the Angels non-tendered him following the 2004 season. Quality can be found.
Dec. 9 – “Today’s Game” Committee Hall-of-Fame announcement
You may not realize it, but the old Veterans committee was replaced by 4 separate committees that are focused on particular eras. For example, last year we saw Ted Simmons come up one vote short on the Modern Baseball committee (1970-87) ballot. This year the Today’s Game (1988 to present) gets together. If you are hoping for Jim Edmonds to get a longer look for the Hall, this is his first chance since falling off the BBWAA ballot.
Dec 9-13 – Winter Meetings in Las Vegas
Coincidental that the Winter Meetings, sure to be a hotbed for Bryce Harper negotiations, will take place in his home town.
This is where the offseason kicks into high gear and is an event that has seen action from the Cardinals in recent years, working towards and finalizing the Fowler signing immediately after the meeting in 2016 and swinging the trades of Piscotty and for Ozuna at the 2017 meetings.
Although you have probably seen the Scott Boras quote regarding Harper already choosing his team and it being a done deal — which was Boras’ attempt at being playful during a radio interview — the same interview included a much more substantial, yet overlooked, statement from Boras in which he indicated that a Harper signing will not occur until after the Winter Meetings.
Dec. 13 – The Rule 5 Draft
The Winter Meetings conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. The Cardinals don’t seem likely to commit a 40-man roster spot to a Rule 5 Player this year. Their most recent foray was Matt Bowman in 2016.
Jan. 11 – Deadline to Submit Salary Figures for Arbitration Eligible Players
The Cardinals have (potentially) 5 arbitration eligible players to deal with this year in Garcia, Leone, Shreve, Wacha, and Ozuna.
Starting with the 2016-17 offseason, the Cardinals created a team policy that, if they reached this deadline without agreeing to a contract then they would cease negotiations and allow it to go before an arbiter. This happened with Michael Wacha that season. It did not happen last year.
MLBTradeRumors projects Ozuna for 13.4M, Wacha at 6.6M, Leone at 1.3M, Shreve at 1.2M, and Garcia at 900K.
January – Hall Of Fame Announcement
Sometime in the middle of the month, the BBWAA ballot results will be announced. Former Cardinals appearing on the ballot this year are Larry Walker, Scott Rolen, Lance Berkman, Placido Polanco, Octavio Dotel, and Jake Westbrook.
Of those, Berkman should have a strong showing in his first year on the ballot. Walker garnered 34.1% of the ballots last year and Rolen appeared on 10.2% in his first season. They are the ones to monitor.
Jan. 19-21 – Cardinals Care Winter Warm-Up
The annual autograph signing charity event returns and is always a hotbed for Cardinals news and content as players and front office personnel meet with the media throughout the weekend. For big acquisitions, it serves as their first chance to get in front of Cardinals fans.
Feb. 14(ish) – Players Report to Spring Training
Feb. 23 – Cardinals Open Grapefruit League Schedule
Mar. 28 – Cardinals Open the Regular Season in Milwaukee
That’s how the offeason plays out.
Thanks for reading!