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MLB Offseason Key Dates: December and January

MLB Key Offseason Dates

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MLB Key Offseason Dates
Getty Images

With the World Series now complete, the 2020-21 offseason is officially upon us, and some MLB offseason key dates are right around the corner. Below are the important dates and deadlines for December and January.

MLB Offseason Key Date – Dec. 2: Non-tender deadline. This is the deadline for teams to offer their pre-arbitration and arbitration-eligible players a contract for 2021. They don’t have to sign them just yet, but they do have to offer a contract. Players who do not receive a contract offer are considered “non-tendered” and become free agents. Notable players are non-tendered every offseason as teams decide their salary outweighs their performance, and the trade market turns up nothing exciting.

It should be noted the expectation within the industry is there will be far more non-tenders than usual this offseason as teams get their payrolls in order following the shutdown. There are only so many ways to get money off the books, and non-tendering players is the easiest way to do it. If that happens, the free agent market will be flooded with players, and potentially drag down salaries because supply outweighs demand.

MLB Offseason Key DateDec. 6-10: MLB’s annual Winter Meetings. They were scheduled to be held at the Omni Dallas Hotel in Texas this year, but MLB this year they will be held remotely instead. The annual owners meetings and GM Meetings, which typically take place in November, will take place remotely as well. The Winter Meetings are typically the busiest week of the offseason. They are chock full of trades and free agent signings and rumors.

MLB Offseason Key DateDec. 10: Rule 5 Draft. By rule, players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team’s big-league roster all season in 2021, otherwise, they must go through waivers and be offered back to their original team. With payrolls inevitably coming down next year because of the pandemic, inexpensive talent will be at a premium, so we could see more Rule 5 Draft activity than usual this offseason. 

Teams are often looking for middle relievers, bench players, and/or lottery tickets in the Rule 5 Draft, and most players wind up back with their original team.

MLB Offseason Key DateJan. 15: Deadline for teams and arbitration-eligible players to submit salary figures. The player files what he believes he should be paid in 2021 while the team counters with that they believe the player should be paid in 2021. It is important to note the two sides can still agree to a contract of any size even after filing salary figures. The vast majority of arbitration-eligible players agree to a contract before filing salary figures. Their model has proven to be quite accurate over the years, though the shutdown and short 60-game season really complicates things this year.

MLB Offseason Key DateJan. 15: The 2021 international signing period opens. The signing period typical runs July 2nd to June 25th each year, but MLB pushed it back because of the pandemic.

MLB Offseason Key DateJan. 26: 2021 Hall of Fame class announced. The ballot is revealed in November, votes are compiled in the following weeks, then the results are announced in the dog days of the offseason.

In January a list of the MLB offseason key dates for February and March will be posted.

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