Hot Stove League Dates to Know

With free agency beginning two weeks from tomorrow, the following dates become critical for each club as the offseason gets under way.

Nov. 7-11 - General Managers Meetings

Not to be confused with the winter meetings, the GM Meetings are pretty much uneventful. The final day of this years meetings is day one of the free agency period.

Nov. 10 - Waivers secured on/after Aug. 1, 2005, expire at 5:00 p.m. ET.

This would have effected the M's with catcher Miguel Ojeda and Bobby Madritsch, and could be a net loss for the M's on a few other players currently on the 40-man roster.

Nov. 11 - New waiver period begins. Waivers (exclusive of Special waivers) secured today and after shall be in effect until Feb. 15, 2006

Same as the waivers secured on/after August 1, with a fresh shelf life.

Nov. 13-17 - MLB Industry Meetings @ Disney Yacht and Beach Club Resort

This is an uninteresting activity for baseball fans, as it's all about business, marketing and such. It was originally intended to be a place where the big wigs also discussed rule changes, contraction and stadium issues but that pretty much takes place anytime they feel is necessary, beginning with the Owners Meetings.

Nov. 15-17 - Owners Meetings @ Pfister Hotel-Milwaukee, Wisc.

This is where dozens of wealthy people get together and talk about how wealthy they are how they can get even wealthier.

Nov. 18 - Final Day to file reserve lists for all Minor League levels and Major Leagues

In English, this is the deadline for clubs to finalize their 40-man rosters, protecting those would otherwise be exposed to the rule 5 draft. Any eligible player not on the 40-man by this date is available to selected. (For rules of eligibility, see "Dec. 8 - Rule 5 Draft" below)

Dec. 5-8 - Winter Meetings @ Wyndham Anatole, Dallas, Texas

This is a key date. The winter meetings are when many of the trades and free agent moves are either initiated, or taken to the next level by player agents and general managers. A lot of lounge-area meetings take place, with players themselves often making an appearance to meet with a prospective club's representatives.

Dec. 7 - Last date for former club of player who declared free agency under Art. XX (B) to offer salary arbitration. If Club does not offer, then it loses all rights to negotiate with and sign the free agent until May 1st of the next season

This is the final day for the M's to offer arbitration to their own free agents, such as Shigetoshi Hasegawa, Jeff Nelson, Jamie Moyer, and possibly Eddie Guardado if both sides decline their options. This date is NOT the final date to offer arbitration to pure arbitration eligibles with three to five years of ML service. If a club does not offer arbitration to their free agents, they are not entitled to draft compensation from the club that signs that free agent.

Dec. 8 - Major League Rule 5 Draft @ Dallas, Texas

Players who signed their first contracts at age 18 four seasons ago, as well as players who signed at age 19 three seasons ago, and are not on the 40-man roster, are eligible to be selected in Major League Rule 5 Draft.

Dec. 19 - Last date for player, who declared free agency under Art. XX (B), to accept an arbitration offer of former club. If player rejects offer to go to arbitration, his former club may still negotiate with and sign him until Jan. 8 of next season

A player with six or more years of ML service time who filed for free agency after an expiring contract has until this date to accept the arbitration offer from their former club.

Dec. 20 - Last date to tender contracts.

This is the final date for clubs to tender contracts to those free agents who were offered arbitration by December 7.

Jan. 5-15 - Salary arbitration filing period

These 11 days are used for the official transactions of arbitration filing to take place. Just a formality.

Jan. 8 - Last day until May 1 for free agents who rejected arbitration offers to re-sign with their former teams

Pretty cut and dry. If a free agent is offered arbitration by his former club from the previous year and rejects, he is not eligible to re-sign with that club until May 1.

Jan. 18 - Exchange of salary arbitration figures

Player and club exchange single salary offers. This is basically where the club offers a lower number than the player asks for and the two sides either go to arbitration and let the arbiter decide, or meet somewhere in the middle.

Feb. 1-21 - Salary Arbitration hearings

If arbitration-eligible player and club have not agreed to a contract by January 31, previously scheduled hearings will be heard for these three weeks. This is not the dates for free agents who were offered arbitration by their former clubs - this date is for arbitration-eligible players with 2+ to five years of service time only.

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