While the Major League Baseball regular season and post-season have ended, there is still plenty of baseball activity upcoming. The Atlanta Braves will probably not be as active as they were last off-season, but they should still be players. Beyond trades and free agent signings for the major league club, they also have to replenish depth in the minor leagues and decide which players to protect from the Rule 5 draft. All of these transactions have differing deadlines. Below is a list of the major important off-season dates in MLB that will affect the Atlanta Braves.
November 2: First day of a five-day window for teams to exclusively negotiate with their eligible free agents.
A.J. Pierzysnki, Ross Detwiler, and Edwin Jackson are the big free agents. Ryan Lavarnaway is a free agent as well, but was not a major piece of the team this year. Peter Moylan‘s two-year minor league contract was voided when he was called up to the big league team, making him a free agent (hat tip to Ryan Cothran at TomahawkTake.com via the MLBTR comments section for the Moylan information).
The Atlanta Braves have expressed interest in Pierzysnki returning, although they would like him to return in a backup role. They do not expect him to repeat this season next year, in his age 39 season, and likely want to pay him accordingly. There have been reports linking the Minnesota Twins to Pierzysnki, including some that suggest they would bring him into the front office after his retirement.
November 4: Option decisions due from most teams and players. Some option dates may be different based on contract language.
No Atlanta Braves have options this season.
November 6: Last day for teams to extend Qualifying Offers to free agent.
No Atlanta Braves will receive qualifying offers this season. Potential Braves targets, however, could. Matt Wieters is expected to receive a qualifying offer from the Baltimore Orioles. The Braves #3 pick is protected, while the #35 pick is not. That pick was obtained in the three way trade with Los Angeles and Miami that brought Hector Olivera to the Braves for Alex wood and Jose Peraza. While the #35 pick is not as likely to get an impact player, the money slotted to that pick can help the Braves spend more on their earlier, protected pick. Therefore, the Braves may be tentative on signing any free agents with a qualifying offer attached.
November 7: Players become eligible to negotiate and sign with any team.
November 9 – 12: MLB GM meetings held in Boca Raton, FL. These are separate from the Winter Meetings held later in the year.
The GM meetings are less active and less ‘high profile’ than the Winter Meetings traditionally are, but the groundwork for deals is often laid at these meetings. This will be new General Manager John Coppolella’s first appearance as a titled GM, but he was reportedly the architect of most of the deals the Braves negotiated this past season.
November 10: Finalists for the major awards announced. Gold Gove winners announced.
November 13: Last day for players to accept or reject Qualifying Offers offered by teams.
No players have ever accepted a qualifying offer, and that is not expected to change. There was some thought that Jeff Samardzija might be offered a qualifying offer, and other chatter that he could possibly be the first player to accept one, with the reasoning being that he might take a one-year deal to improve his stock after a poor season. However, I don’t think he will.
November 16 – 19: Major award winners announced.
November 18 – 19: Owners’ meetings in Dallas, TX.
November 20: Deadline for teams to set 40-man rosters for Rule 5 draft.
With the turnover in the system over the past 12 months, the Braves have a few decisions to make as to who they want to protect in this year’s Rule 5 draft. Some of the newly acquired talent do not have to protected because they have nor played pro ball long enough to be exposed. But others, including several who made their debuts this season (Matt Wisler, Manny Banuelos, Mike Foltynewicz, and Williams Perez) will take up spots. Tyrell Jenkins, Mauricio Cabrera, and Ryan Weber are currently on the 40-man roster, so they will be protected. Daniel Castro and Joey Terdoslavich are in the same situation, and will receive protection.
December 2: Last day for teams to extend contract offers to pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players.
The Atlanta Braves have quite a few pre-arbitration players, and a couple of arbitration-eligible players. Shelby Miller, Arodys Vizcaino, and Mike Minor are the arbitration eligible players. Mike Minor was once thought to be a non-tender candidate, but the team has indicated a willingness to bring him back.
Of the pre-arbitration players, virtually all are expected to be tendered a deal. This includes Jace Peterson, Shae Simmons, Chris Withrow, Paco Rodriguez, Foltynewicz, Perez, Wisler, Banuelos, Christian Bethancourt, Andrew McKirihan, Daniel Winkler, and Joey Terdoslavich.
December 7 – 10: Winter Meetings in Nashville, TN.
December 10: Rule 5 draft.
The Braves may look to snipe a moderate risk/high upside player during the Rule 5 draft, like they did last season with Winkler.
January 6: 2016 Hall of Fame voting results announced.
Congratulations, Ken Griffey, Jr.!
Side note: Maybe this year, the voters will right the tragedy that is the omission of Tim Raines from the Hall of Fame. Raines’ biggest fault is that he played at the same time as Rickey Henderson. As far as I recall, nobody suggested Stan Musial should be kept from the Hall of Fame because he was no Ted Williams.
Here is where Raines ranks among left fielders either in the Hall of Fame or on the HoF ballot:
January 12: Deadline for players to file for salary arbitration
It will be interesting to see how the arbitration process plays out between the Braves and Miller, and also Minor. I would prefer they extend Miller, but they have a little time with him. In the case of Minor, the Braves may want to cut his pay, since he was injured all season (and some could argue he knew he was injured when he went into last season’s arbitration hearings). The Braves are prohibited by the CBA from cutting his pay more than 20%, but the likelihood is that both sides agree on the same deal that Minor had this season ($5.6M).
January 15: Salary arbitration figures exchanged by teams and players.
February 1 -21: Salary arbitration hearings for eligible players who have not reached agreements with their teams.
February 18: Voluntary reporting date for pitchers, catchers, and some injured players to report to Spring Training.
February 23: Voluntary reporting date for all other players to report to Spring Training.
March 1: Mandatory reporting date for Spring Training.
April 4: OPENING DAY!