As the World Series approaches without the San Francisco Giants, the offseason is underway.
San Francisco’s season ended unceremoniously, but there are much grander things to think about than a check swing. SF has a myriad of decisions to make in free agency and otherwise.
Here are the dates you need to know between now and spring training.
Oct. 18: Exit interviews
Four days after the Dodgers eliminated the Giants in Game 5 of the NLDS, manager Gabe Kapler and president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi addressed the media.
They batted questions about impending free agents Brandon Belt and Kris Bryant, along with Buster Posey ($22 million club option) and the entire non-Logan Webb rotation.
The general sense they gave? There’s a real emphasis on bringing the 2021 core back.
Early November: Free agency begins
A day after the World Series ends, which could be as late as Nov. 3, players whose contracts expire officially become free agents. They can’t sign with a new team until five days later, giving their 2021 teams a short window to negotiate with them.
That means the Giants will have five days to extend their $22 million club option to Buster Posey.
Johnny Cueto also has a $22 million club option, which SF will certainly not exercise. Wilmer Flores and José Álvarez have much more manageable options — $3.5 million and $1.5 million, respectively.
The trade market also opens a day after the World Series concludes, though the days immediately following the World Series are typically quiet.
Nov. 9: GM meetings
This is when the stove starts to heat up. The 30 general managers will convene, and the early stages of transactions will begin to formulate.
Nov. 10: Qualifying offer deadline
Brandon Belt and the Giants have expressed mutual interest in a return, and the first baseman is a candidate for the $18.4 million qualifying option. San Francisco used the qualifying option on Kevin Gausman last year, and it paid dividends for both him and the team. A similar deal may be possible for Belt.
Players have until five Nov. 10 to accept or reject a team’s qualifying offer.
The 33-year-old could be interested in a longer term deal, and could have more suitors if the universal designated hitter is instituted. But if the Giants extend the qualifying offer to Belt and he signs elsewhere, SF would get draft pick compensation from that team.
Nov. 19: Deadline to protect players from Rule 5 draft
Anyone in the Giants’ organization that wasn’t on the 40-man roster but who has been a professional for a specified period of time (generally four seasons for college players and five for high school or international signees) are eligible to be drafted in December’s Rule 5 Draft.
To protect a prospect from being eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, the Giants must add them to the 40-man roster before the Nov. 19 deadline.
2020 was a historically strong year for the Rule 5 Draft, with players like Akil Badoo and Garrett Whitlock contributing at high levels for their big league clubs.
The Giants picked up Dedniel Nunez from the Mets organization in last year’s Rule 5 Draft. He’s still in the organization, but was placed on the 60-day disabled list with a UCL sprain and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Dec. 1: Non-tender deadline
Players on the 40-man roster with fewer than six years of MLB service time — including those still arbitration-eligible — must be tendered a contract by Dec. 1. Players that are non-tendered immediately become free agents.
For the Giants, tougher decisions may come with contracts like Alex Dickerson, Curt Casali and Darin Ruf.
Dec. 6-9: Winter meetings
Held in Orlando, the biggest offseason event will be in-person this winter after a virtual summit in 2020.
Dec. 9: Rule 5 Draft
If the Giants select a player in the Rule 5 Draft, they must keep him on their 26-man roster for the entire 2022 season or be forced to offer him back to the team he was selected from. The player can’t be optioned to the minors without being placed on waivers, an incentive for big league teams to commit to Rule 5 draft picks.
Jan. 14, 2022: Arbitration figures exchanged
After a team and player exchange arbitration figures, they have until February to come to an agreement. If they don’t, independent arbiters get involved in hearings.
Giants eligible for arbitration include Curt Casali, Mike Yastrzemski and Darin Ruf. MLB Trade Rumors estimates arbitration values as follow:
Dominic Leone: $1.5m
Jarlin García: $1.8m
John Brebbia: $1m
Austin Slater: $2m
Alex Dickerson: $3m
Feb. 26: Spring training schedule opens in Scottsdale
The roster will likely still be in flux in February, as deals can still happen leading up to spring training (shoutout LaMonte Wade Jr.). But by late February, the Giants will be back in action. It can’t come soon enough.