Baseball now heads into an uncertain winter, with the MLB/MLBPA collective-bargaining agreement scheduled to expire December 1. As of now, there’s no word on any new agreement or even a road to a deal. It’s entirely possible that owners and players decide to kick the can down the road and play another year under the current deal to give themselves more time to hammer out a new one, but as of now that’s undetermined.
In any case, baseball will (presumably) return next spring. In the meantime here are the key dates to remember this offseason.
The day after the conclusion of the World Series (today): All players with at least six years of service time who are not under contract for the 2022 season will automatically become free agents. Minor league players with six years of service will also become free agents if not added to a 40-man roster. For the first five days after the World Series there is a “quiet period” when clubs can talk to free agents but can’t sign them.
At the end of the quiet period, clubs must decide whether or not to extend one-year qualifying offers to their free agents. The qualifying offer for 2022 will be $18.4 million, down slightly from $18.9 million in 2021. Five Cubs are listed at Cot’s as free agents: Zach Davies, Matt Duffy, Adam Morgan, Jose Lobatón and Jonathan Holder. I can assure you that none of those players will receive a qualifying offer.
The end of the five-day quiet period is also the deadline to settle 2022 contracts with opt-out clauses, player options, club options and mutual options. The Cubs don’t have anyone who falls in these categories. Here are some players who are in those contract situations.
At the same time, teams are required to move all players on the 60-day injured list back to the active roster. The following seven Cubs players are currently listed on the 60-day IL: Jonathan Holder, Kohl Stewart, Brad Wieck, P.J. Higgins, Jose Lobatón, Alfonso Rivas and Michael Hermosillo. I think it’s reasonably clear at this point that some of those players will be let go,
Here are some other dates to note this fall and winter.
Sunday, November 7: The winners of the 2020 Rawlings Gold Glove awards will be announced on ESPN at 7:30 p.m. CT. Finalists for each position were announced last week, including Zach Davies of the Cubs.
Monday, November 8: The finalists for the annual Baseball Writers Association of America MLB awards will be announced live on MLB Network.
Wednesday, November 10: MLB free agents who received qualifying offers from their teams must declare whether they accept or reject the offer. Last year, six players received the $18.9 million QO and two accepted: Kevin Gausman with the Giants and Marcus Stroman with the Mets. A player accepting the qualifying offer cannot be traded until June 15 without his consent. A free agent who rejects the qualifying offer gives the team losing him draft pick compensation. Players who have previously received a QO cannot get a second one.
Thursday, November 11: Louisville Silver Slugger Awards are announced for each position live on MLB Network at 5 p.m. CT.
Monday, November 15: The 2021 Hall of Fame ballot will be released, with voting taking place through December 31.
Monday, November 15: The Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award winners will be announced for the National and American Leagues live on MLB Network.
Tuesday, November 16: Manager of the Year awards will be announced for the National League and American Leagues live on MLB Network.
Wednesday, November 17: AL and NL Cy Young awards will be announced live on MLB Network.
Thursday, November 18: MVP awards for the NL and AL will be announced live on MLB Network.
Friday, November 19: Teams must add eligible minor leaguers to their 40-man rosters or risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft. College players drafted no later than 2018 and high school players drafted no later than 2017 are Rule 5 Draft eligible this year, as well as international signees from 2017 or later.
Wednesday, December 1: The MLB non-tender deadline. All teams must offer their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players a contract for 2022 by this date. Players who do not receive a contract offer are considered “non-tendered” and become free agents.
Sunday, December 5: The Golden Days Era Committee and the Early Baseball Era Committee of the Hall of Fame will both meet with the results of the vote announced that evening live on MLB Network. Here’s more information on those committees.
December 5-9: MLB’s annual Winter Meetings are scheduled to take place in Orlando, Florida.
Thursday, December 9: The Rule 5 Draft will be held, the final event of the Winter Meetings. Players taken in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s major league roster all season or be offered back to their original team.
Friday, January 14: Teams must exchange salary arbitration figures with arbitration-eligible players by this deadline. The two parties can avoid arbitration by reaching an agreement any time prior to the beginning of an arb hearing. In most cases, players and teams agree to a contract before filing salary figures.
Tuesday, January 25: The National Baseball Hall of Fame announces its 2022 class. Any players elected will be inducted in a Cooperstown, New York ceremony Sunday, July 24.
Mid-February: Arbitration hearings for eligible players who have not reached agreement on contracts with their teams.
Saturday, February 26: The Cubs open their 2022 Spring Training schedule against the Dodgers at Sloan Park.
Thursday, March 31: Opening Day 2022. The Cubs open the season against the Reds in Cincinnati at 3:10 p.m. CT. All 30 teams will be in action that day.
Monday, April 4: The Cubs will begin their 2022 home season at Wrigley Field against the Cardinals at 1:20 p.m. CT.