With the release of free-agents on November 3rd, the off-season is in full swing. Here are the important dates you need to know for the upcoming months. Yesterday was the deadline for teams to extend qualifying offers to their outgoing free agents. One year for $15.8M. The Rays did not do that.
The Rays do not have a protected top-ten draft pick either, so do not expect them to sign a player who received a qualifying offer from their former team. The penalty is losing your highest unprotected pick.
If not for the Brad Miller acquisition we might be beleaguered by Ian Desmond receiving a QO from the Nationals, but alas that will now be the Dodgers' price to pay (or whoever, I'm just guessing).
On to the rest of the important dates!
November 7: Exclusive negotiating rights end and free agents are now allowed to sign deals with new teams.
That's today! John Jaso, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Grady Sizemore are now unrestricted in free agency. The former two are made up for by the presence of Logan Morrison and the aforementioned Brad Miller - acquired on Thursday. The Rays may still entertain bringing Jaso or Sizemore back into the fold, but they are officially free to sign elsewhere.
November 9-12: The General Manager Meetings take place in Boca Raton, FL.
President of Baseball Operations Matt Silverman has already said they anticipate it being an "active" off-season, so we will need to keep our ears to the ground next week! Trade candidates include anyone willing to take Rene Rivera, Desmond Jennings, or James Loney off our hands. The GM Meetings are not typically when most moves are made, but the environment normally leads to some good conversations.
November 10: The Rawlings Gold Glove awards announced on ESPN.
CF Kevin Kiermaier and 3B Evan Longoria are nominated, with the former a favorite to win the award. Kiermaier would become the second outfielder in team history to claim a Gold Glove recognition, following Carl Crawford in 2010.
November 13: The deadline for players to accept qualifying offers.
More of an FYI, not our problem.
November 20: The deadline to protect eligible prospects from the Rule 5 Draft.
Last year the Rays failed to protect C Oscar Hernandez, who was successfully kept on the Arizona Diamondbacks 25-man roster all season (thanks to injury). This off-season he is in the Arizona Fall Stars game with Rays prospects SS Daniel Robertson and LF/1B Jake Bauers. You can watch that on the MLB Network at 8:00.
December 2: The non-tender deadline.
If the Rays have not traded Rene Rivera or Desmond Jennings by this point, some serious considerations need to be made as to how useful either player might be to the Rays plans in 2016.
December 7-10: The Winter Meetings take place in Nashville, Tennessee.
This is when the hot stove reaches its rolling boil. This year's extravaganza will be held in a non-MLB city, which is fascinating in and of itself, although the Double-A Nashville Sounds do enjoy a strong fanbase. Anyway, it should be fun to see if the Rays have anything in store.
Feb. 1-21: Salary arbitration hearings take place.
The Rays now have 12 players eligible for arbitration with the acquisition of Logan Morrison. He's projected to ~$4.1M in his final year of his rookie contract. The Rays have not announced when pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training, but it is typically toward the end of February.