With all due respect to the two deserving entrants in this year’s World Series, not to mention other postseason teams (even the Dodgers, with their participation trophy), when you’re a fan of a team that missed the playoffs, October can kind of drag a bit. Sure, it’s fun to watch other good teams battle it out in the tournament, but really what we want is to get on with the offseason and see your team make some moves that give you hope for the future to blot out the disappointment of the recent past.
Well, here we are. The World Series ended not quite 72 hours ago, and the clock is now ticking on the postseason calendar. With attribution to Chad Jennings of the Athletic, here are the key dates, which I’ll follow up with some specific discussion about how they relate to the Giants.
- November 2-6: Free agency begins. The World Series ended on Nov. 1, and by rule, players whose contracts have ended become free agents the day after the World Series. Teams get an exclusive five-day window to negotiate with their own free agents before other teams can talk to them. This window ends this year on November 6. There are several other related decisions that also happen during this five-day window. First, contract options (team and/or player) are decided. Second, teams can extend qualifying offers to their free agents. Third, players who finished the season on the 60-day Injured List must be returned to the 40-man roster (or DFA’d, as the case may be).
- November 5-16: Awards season. During this nine-day period, the Gold Glove (Nov. 5) and Silver Slugger (Nov. 9) Awards will be announced. Chad would like you to know that the baseball writers do not vote for either of those. Also, from Nov. 13-16, the awards that are decided by the baseball writers association (BBWAA) will be announced one day at a time in this order: Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young, Most Valuable Player.
- November 7-9: GM Meetings. These are not to be confused with the much more eventful Winter Meetings, which will happen in December, but sometimes there are tidbits of news, and the execs consult on things like rule changes. There is sure to be some discussion of the controversial postseason format, which has led to complaints over the two years it’s been operating.
- November 14: Rule 5 deadline. This is the date by which teams must add minor leaguers to their 40-man roster or risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft.
- November 17: Non-tender deadline. By this date, players who are eligible for arbitration must be either offered a contract or arbitration. If they are not, they are “non-tendered,” meaning that they become free agents. There is also some date, usually in mid-to-late January, by which players offered arbitration must either settle with their teams on a contract or go through an arbitration hearing.
- December 4-7: Winter Meetings. This is the big event, and often big free agent signings and/or trades are announced. For example, last year Jon Heyman and Susan Slusser announced that the Giants had signed Aaron (“Arson”) Judge. That actually did happen (the announcements, not the signing), but the Giants also signed Mitch Haniger during the Winter Meetings. Also concurrent with the Winter Meetings is the Rule 5 Draft and the MLB draft lottery.
What These Dates Mean for the Giants
The Giants have some specific business that will need to get done in the next couple of days.
- Player options: One item has already been crossed off the list: Ross Stripling, to no one’s surprise, will exercise his player option and stay with the Giants next year. He will make $12.5 mil, and he’d already been candid about the fact that he didn’t pitch well enough in 2023 to earn more money elsewhere, so welcome(?) back, Ross. The other decisions remaining involve Michael Conforto ($18 mil player option for 2024), Sean Manaea ($12.5 mil player option), and Alex Cobb ($10 mil team option). Conforto and Manaea, both Scott Boras clients, could go either way. Neither had such a great year with the Giants that it’s a slam dunk that they’ll opt out, especially Conforto–$18 mil is a lot of money. On the other hand, it’s a weak free agent market particularly for position players, so perhaps Conforto tests it anyway. If Manaea opts out, the Giants would have the option of giving him a qualifying offer (he’s never received one, while Conforto has), but that seems unlikely. As for Cobb, it seemed a no-brainer that the Giants would pick up his option after his first All-Star season, but then the decision was complicated by the announcement that Cobb needs hip surgery that has a minimum six-month recovery period, meaning that he couldn’t pitch for the Giants until June at the earliest.
- 40-man roster moves: Six Giants’ free agents immediately dropped off their 40-man roster the day after the World Series: Scott Alexander, John Brebbia, Brandon Crawford, Jakob Junis, Joc Pederson, and Alex Wood. Roberto Perez (remember him?) was on the 60-day IL but is also a free agent, so he’s gone from the list as well, and Mark Mathias was DFA’d. Anthony DeSclafani, Thomas Szapucki, and Cole Waites remain on the 60-day IL and will have to be added back to the 40-man (or DFA’d) by the end of Monday. If all three of them are added back, the 40-man roster would stand at 37. They will need more spots to protect Rule 5 players, not to mention adding free agents, so some of those 40-man guys shouldn’t get too comfortable.
- Free agents and trades: It seems unlikely that the Giants are negotiating with any of their own free agents during this five-day exclusive window, but I guess you ever know. If they bring any of those six back, my money would be on Brebbia. Also, teams can make trades at any time now–the moratorium after the Aug. 1 in-season trade deadline is over.
- Awards: Patrick Bailey is a finalist for the NL Gold Glove at catcher. By some metrics, he has a good case, but it’s unusual for a rookie to win a Gold Glove.
- Rule 5 additions: The Giants have an enormous list of minor leaguers who would be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year. See below for details on how to enter this year’s MyRule5Guy™ contest!
- Arbitration-eligible players: As of this moment, the Giants have six: J.D. Davis, Thairo Estrada, Tyler Rogers, Austin Slater, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Mike Yastrzemski. This is a tough list for a variety of reasons, and we’ll discuss it in more detail as that Nov. 17 date comes closer. Not tough: Estrada and Rogers not only deserve contracts, they arguably both deserve extensions. We’ll see what happens next with them and the others.
While there’s no particular “deadline” on this item, new manager Bob Melvin is surely sorting through his options for building out next year’s coaching staff. Some of the decisions may have to wait until: a) current coaches interview elsewhere; b) the Padres decide which coaches they’ll allow to go with Melvin and c) coaches from other teams interview elsewhere (I’m thinking of the idea that Stephen Vogt could be hired as a bench coach/manager-in-training, but he’s been interviewed for several managerial openings, including with the Giants). It will be interesting in particular to see how many of the current coaches are retained–Kai Correa, Mark Hallberg, and Alyssa Nakken, along with Ron Wotus, also received manager interviews as internal candidates, and pitching coach Andrew Bailey has been rumored to want to move to the East Coast, where his family lives. Rumors about the coaching staff have also included beloved former Giant Matt Williams (currently the Padres’ third base coach), Padres’ bench coach/associate manager Ryan Christenson, and former Giants Pat Burrell and Ryan Vogelsong for hitting and pitching coaches, respectively.
We will see how it all plays out. Former manager Gabe Kapler raised a lot of eyebrows with his “new school” approach to building a coaching staff back in 2019-20, a staff that included a lot of very young and fairly inexperienced hires, but players gave that staff a lot of credit during the magical 2021 season. I could see a combo of younger coaches staying plus more old-school types (which Williams, Burrell, and Vogelsong absolutely would be) to help both improve the reportedly “soft” culture in the clubhouse and connect with alienated Giants fans.
MyRule5Guy™ Contest is Underway!
As noted above, one of the dates coming quickly in November is when teams must add minor leaguers to the 40-man roster or risk losing them in the Rule 5 Draft. Last year we had a contest to see if we could pick which prospects the Giants would protect, and our ContestGuy™, HaakAway, has set it up for us again. Though the Giants have a lot of minor leaguers potentially eligible for the Rule 5 Draft this year, HaakAway has picked out the most likely/familiar names from among that longer list.
It’s easy to enter. Just click on the link below and check as many names as you would like: There’s also an “Other” choice where you can fill in a name(s). You’ll get an email confirming your entry, and you can use the link in that email to edit your entry until up to the deadline. Because teams must make their decisions by November 14, the deadline for entering the contest will be midnight on Nov. 13 (a week from Monday).
Last year the Giants added four minor leaguers to the 40-man roster, three of whom I correctly guessed. The fourth player I guessed, Nick Avila, did get taken in the Rule 5 Draft (and later returned to the Giants after spring training), so I’m giving myself bonus points for a shrewd pick.
By this time next week, we’ll know a few more things, certainly about the options/roster moves, possibly about the coaching staff, and probably not that much about free agent signings–though you never know. It’s not like the NBA, where the literal second free agency opens, player deals are announced. This will take awhile. I’m glad as a Giants fan to be moving into the next phase and hopefully putting the bad vibes of the 2023 season in the rear-view mirror. Lefty out.