Important Offseason Dates

Jenifer Langosch/

The Giants’ win over the Tigers on Sunday night sealed San Francisco’s second World Championship in three years, closed the book on the 2012 season and opened the season we fondly know as the Hot Stove. Players not under contract next year officially become free agents today, though they are not eligible to sign with new teams until, at the earliest, Saturday.

Here is a rundown of important offseason dates and how the Cardinals will be affected by these deadlines:

  • Monday, Oct. 29: Eligible players become free agents
    • Kyle Lohse and Lance Berkman are the two members of the Cardinals’ 2012 Major League club who now enter the free-agent market
  • Wednesday, Oct. 31: Clubs/Players must decline or accept option years in contracts
    • The Cardinals have no 2013 options to exercise
  • Friday, Nov. 2: Qualifying offers, if the club opts to make one, are due to departing free agents
    • This is a new addition from the Collective Bargaining Agreement signed last December. Gone are the Type A and Type B free agent rankings that ensured clubs would receive a Draft pick(s) if such a player left during free agency. Instead, a club has to make a qualifying offer — which is a one-year contract with a salary value the average of the top 125 salaries the year before — in order to secure a Draft pick if the player leaves. Of course, the player can also take that one-year offer and stay. The club is obviously bound to pay that price if a player makes such a decision
    • This year’s qualifying offer is $13.3 million
    • If a player declines the offer and signs elsewhere, the team that signs him will forfeit a Draft pick. The loss will be a first-round Draft pick, unless that pick falls in the Top 10. If so, the club loses a second-round pick.
    • The club that lost the free agent receives an extra pick in the compensation round, which falls between the first and second rounds of the Draft.
    • How does this affect the Cardinals? Expect Lohse to be made a qualifying offer, as it’s almost certain he won’t sacrifice a multi-year deal elsewhere for a one-year contract to stay. Such an offer is not expected to be extended to Berkman, as $13.3 million is much more than the Cardinals would consider paying him in 2013.

  • Saturday, Nov. 3: Free agents can begin signing with new clubs
    • This is the official open of the free agent market. No more restrictions.
  • Friday, Nov. 9: Players must accept/reject qualifying offers
    • Teams will not only know if a player accepts its qualifying offer, but it will also know which free agents come with a price tag that will cost the club that signs them a Draft pick in 2013.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 20: Teams must set 40-man roster in advance of Rule 5 Draft
    • A player is eligible to be taken in the December Rule 5 Draft if he is not on the 40-man roster AND was signed when 19 or older and has been in the organization for four years, or if he was signed when 18 or younger and has been in the organization for five years.
    • Teams have until this date to protect such players from being plucked by putting them on the 40-man roster.
  • Friday, Nov. 30: Deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players
    • If a club opts not to offer a contract to an arbitration-eligible player, that player enters the free-agent pool
    • Otherwise, by tendering a contract the team announces that it is willing to go as far as an arbitration hearing to settle on a 2013 salary, if an agreement cannot be mutually agreed upon before then.
    • The following Cardinals players are arbitration eligible: Edward Mujica, Kyle McClellan, Jason Motte, Marc Rzepczynski, David Freese and Mitchell Boggs
  • Thursday, Dec. 6: Rule 5 Draft
    • This is held at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings, which will be in Nashville this year. To pick a player, a club must have an open spot on its 40-man roster. The cost of a selection is $50,000 and that player must stay on a the team’s Major League roster for all of the 2013 season or else be offered back to its previous club for half the purchase price.

Hope this outline of important dates is helpful to you as you follow along with the organization’s doings this offseason. The offseason will have a much different feel in St. Louis this year than last, but that doesn’t mean the Cardinals won’t be active in trying to improve the club. It will be interesting to watch, too, how the changes in the CBA (most notably this addition of qualifying offers) affects decision-making across the game.

Follow me on Twitter: @LangoschMLB


So if a team does NOT make a qualifying offer, and the player signs with another team, does the club losing the free agent still get a compensation round pick, or do they only get it if an offer is made?

Teams only get the compensation pick if a qualifying offer is made.

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