The Texas Rangers are World Series champions. Everytime I type that or say that it puts a smile on my face. Texas winning the World Series does bring about the start of the offseason. Major League Baseball has several checkpoints during the winter that are important to fans to remember. These dates will help explain why certain moves are made at specific times. It is a guide to help fans get through these long winter months without baseball and be able to remain tuned into what is going on in baseball.
A fan's guide to the MLB offseason
November 6th- Free agency officially starts
Starting on Monday morning free agents can officially start negotiating contracts with any team in baseball. The five-day quiet period officially ends and contracts can start to be negotiated and agreed upon. This week expect to hear news about players signing for 2024 and beyond.
November 6th- Qualifying Offers/ Option Decisions
Any player that has an option on their contract for 2024 whether it be a mutual, team, or player option must be decided by this date. Texas already did that by exercising Jose Leclerc's option and Andrew Heaney decided to exercise his option for 2024. There are no other options for the team.
Qualifying offer deadline is also on November 6th at 4pm. The QO for this season will be $20.325 million. The only player Texas might consider the QO on is Mitch Garver, but I think there would be fear that he would accept since that is much more than he is likely to receive on the free agent market. I don't expect Texas to use the QO unlike last year when Martin Perez was offered the QO and accepted.
November 7th-9th GM Meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona
Less than a week after winning the franchise's first World Series in Phoenix, Arizona Chris Young will head back to Arizona for the GM Meetings. He will be there in Scottsdale and will be meeting with his fellow general managers and lay groundwork for potential future trades and develop a roadmap for how the rest of the offseason will unfold for the Texas Rangers. Last year at the GM meetings he worked out a trade with Atlanta to send Kolby Allard to the Braves in exchange for Jake Odorizzi. It would not be shocking if something got done over these three days.
November 14th- Deadline for players to make a decision on the Qualifying Offer
This will be a nothing day for the Texas Rangers as it is expected that they will not extend any players the QO for the 2024 season.
November 14th- Rule 5 Draft Deadline
Texas will make moves around this deadline. They will have to add players to the 40-man roster that they do not want exposed to the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings. These are minor league players that have been in the organization either three years if they are from college or four years if they were drafted out of high school or signed at that age or younger. Currently Texas has 34 players on the 40-man roster. I would expect maybe a move or two to get that number lower because they want to also have space for any free agents or trades that they make this offseason.
Prospect Times has the list of players that are Rule 5 eligible for the first time here at this link. I believe Texas will look to add five players to the 40-man roster: Dane Acker, Jose Corniell, Justin Foscue, Marc Church, and Antoine Kelly. Lot of pitching. Foscue was Texas' 2020 first round pick and is knocking on the door of making his debut after spending much of 2023 at Round Rock. Acker spent most of 2023 at Frisco and will likely move up to Round Rock at the start of the 2024 season and be an option to make spot starts next season. Corniell after a slow start was one of the Rangers' success stories in 2023 and pitched very well for Hickory and will likely start 2024 in Frisco. Marc Church hit a wall at Round Rock, but still has lots of potential and would likely be drafted if he was not protected. Finally, Antoine Kelly will be added. It was a surprise when he was not added to the 40-man and active roster in September. He became a hard-throwing left-handed reliever. He pitched much better this season and earned a late-season promotion to Round Rock. He will certainly be a bullpen option for Texas as soon as Opening Day or early in the season.
November 14th-16th The Owners' meetings
All of the owners will get together over these three days to discuss issues facing the league. The biggest issue that they will be resolving is the relocation vote for Oakland to officially move to Las Vegas at a yet-to-be-determined date. It is fully expected that this vote will pass the vote of the owners.
November 17th- Non-Tender deadline
This deadline is for players that have not officially reached free agency. It is for players either in their arbitration years or pre-arbitration years. Teams have to tender a contract to each of these players. This is when teams decide to jettison players who did not perform well in the previous season. If a player is non-tendered he immediately becomes a free agent. This is always one of the more interesting days because there are always high-profile players who underperform and are placed into the free agency pool. Cody Bellinger last year was among those players. He bounced back and had a tremendous season for the Chicago Cubs and will get paid as a result this offseason.
December 3rd through 6th The Winter Meetings
The Winter Meetings will take place this season in Nashville. GMs, owners, coaches, media, players, agents, and basically the entire business of baseball will drop into Nashville for these four days in December. It is annually a time for free agents to sign contracts and trades to be consumated. it is among the busiest days of the entire year for MLB transactions. If Shohei Ohtani still has not signed expect it to happen during these four days. It will be chaotic and it will help set expectations for what the 2024 season will bring.
December 5th -The 2024 MLB Draft Lottery
Texas having won the World Series will not be involved in the draft lottery this season. They will be drafting at the end of the first round.
December 6th- Rule 5 Draft
We will find out on this day if Texas has lost anyone to the Rule 5 draft. If their 40-man roster is not already full they can participate in the draft. If they did take anyone that players would have to stay on the active roster for the entire 2024 season or be offered back to the club he was drafted from. I would not expect Texas to pick anyone. They certainly could lose players to the draft depending on who they protect and who they expose.
January 12th- Arbitration Figures deadline
This is the date by which players in their arbitration years must exchange numbers with the team. If they cannot come to an agreement on a figure then the case will be heard by an arbitration judge. It is not a pleasant process as the team has to make their case why a players is not worth the amount he submitted and the player and his agent normally will make the case why he is. The judge will then decide who is right and that is the number he will get paid in 2024. Texas has not had a player take them to arbitration since Lee Stevens in 2000.
Texas will have several players arbitration eligible this year. Jonah Heim, Nathaniel Lowe, Adolis Garcia, Brock Burke, Dane Dunning, Jonathan Hernandez, Brett Martin, and Josh Sborz, I would fully expect Texas to come to agreements with each of these players if they are still on the roster at this point. That is something to follow as we go throughout this offseason is whether all of these players are tendered contracts for 2024.
January 15th- International Signing Period begins
Texas is always active in the international signing period. Their big fish in 2023 was Sebastian Walcott.The 16-year old Jamaican shortstop shot up the prospect rankings throughout 2023 as he started in the Dominican Summer League and then quickly was brought to Arizona to play in the complex league. He finished up the season playing for Hickory in High-A. It was a meteoric rise for the now 17-year old shortstop. Texas will likely add to their minor leagues with more international signings at this time.
January 23rd- 2024 Hall of Fame Announcement
This will hold particular interest for Texas Rangers' fans as Adrian Beltre will be on the ballot for the first time. He is widely expected to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He retired as one of the greatest to play third base both offensively and defensively. He surpassed 3,000 hits in his career and had over 400 home runs. It is expected that he go in as a Texas Ranger. He will be the the third player elected to the Hall of Fame as a Texas Ranger joining Nolan Ryan and Ivan Rodriguez.
January 29th- February 16th Arbitration hearings
If Texas has any players they cannot come to an agreement, then the case will be heard during this period of time. Again. Texas has not had to go to an arbitration hearing since 2000. They will be looking to keep that streak alive through 2024.
February 14th- Pitchers and Catcher report (Estimated)
This is the date we think pitchers and catchers will be reporting to Surprise, Arizona for the start of spring training. It is just over 100 days away from now. The offseason will fly by and before you know it the defending World Series Champion Texas Rangers will be in camp preparing to defend their title.