So, as always, I mourn the passing of another season and wistfully long for the start of a new one. After all, as horrible as the 2011 Twins season was, it was still a pretty good impersonation of real baseball, and real baseball is better than any of the other hobbies I have (I can only crochet so many dishcloths, scarves, and baby blankets before I go nuts).
That's not to say that I don't like the stuff that happens in the off-season. I kind enjoy keeping up with all the rumors and dates that go with the hot stove. But the fact that these rumors and dates kind of happen in a spotty fashion kind of bums me out. This is how it usually shakes out:
- An important date nears.
- Fans and media speculate the snot out of a bunch of ideas about what's going to happen.
- The date comes.
- Whatever happens happens.
- Fans and media analyze the snot out of a bunch of ideas about what just happened.
- Everyone waits until the next thing is about to happen.
So while all this rumoring and speculating and analyzing is a lot of fun, I still prefer the consistency of being able to follow a ballgame.
However, hot stove is where we're at, so hot stove is what we're doing. Let's preview the 2011-2012 Twins Off-season. I kind of explained the same kind of stuff to the best of my ability last year. I did lay out some definitions in there, so check it out if you need further info. If you need any further info (or clearer info), check out the links I put at the bottom of this post.
By order of important date:
October 30. Two days after the World Series was the free agent filing date. Teams have an exclusive negotiating window until end of day Wednesday. If the teams and players don't agree to a new contract within that window, on November 3, the players become free agents and may begin signing with any team.
Also, teams had until Sunday to decide whether to exercise team options. The Twins' only potential team option was a $12.5M deal for Joe Nathan, and they already decided to pay the $2M to buy out the option. Popular opinion, including mine, is that the Twins made the right move with Nathan. As much as I love him and want him to be a Twin forever and ever, $12.5M is an awful lot of money for a closer -- it is, after all, only a role, not a position. There's every reason to believe that the Twins with try to sign Nathan for less money, and it might be possible that they can as the free agent list of closers is pretty significant.
November 14 - 22. Announcements of the post-season awards: NL and AL Rookie of the Year, AL Cy Young, NL and AL Manager of the Year, NL Cy Young, AL MVP, and NL MVP. I'm pretty sure there won't be any Twins gathering any hardware this year.
November 23. Deadline for teams to decide whether to offer the type A and type B free agents (as graded by Elias Sports Bureau) arbitration. The reason to offer these guys arbitration is so that the team receives draft pick(s) as compensation if they turn it down (type A's fetch a first- or second-round pick from the signing team plus a sandwich pick, and type B's fetch a sandwich pick for the original team). The risk, or reward if the player is all that and a bag of chips, is that the player will accept the arbitration offer and the team has to sign him for one year at fair market value. The free agent players have until December 7 to decide whether to accept the arbitration offer.
Free Agents:I assume that the Twins will offer arbitration to Cuddyer and Kubel, but not Capps.
Matt Capps (type A)
Michael Cuddyer (type A)
Jason Kubel (type B)
December 5. The deadline for teams to outright players off the 40-man roster prior to the Rule 5 draft (I talk about that below).
December 5 - 8. MLB Winter Meetings of General Managers ending with the Rule 5 draft. A bunch of GMs and team executives wheeling and dealing and talking trades and other suchandso and even more media members hanging out in lobbies trying to get scoops on the trade and suchandso talking.
The Rule 5 draft occurs on the last day of the Winter Meetings. This is where teams may draft certain young players not on a team's 40-man roster. The only catch is that the drafting team must either put the player on the 25-man roster for the next season, or work out a trade with the original team in order to send him to the minors. For further explanation of "certain young players," I suggest you read Seth Stohs' article in the TwinCentric Minnesota Twins GM Handbook (linked below).
Pre-Arbitration Eligible Players on the 40-Man Roster (as of 10/30) (teams can not draft these guys with Rule 5 -- they may or may not even be eligible age-wise if they were to be taken off the roster; I didn't feel like figuring that part out)December 11. The current collective bargaining agreement between Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association expires. I haven't done a lot of research on how close they are to a new agreement, but I'm encouraged by the lack of news and buzz about it. As far as I'm aware, the only major sticking point left to work out is slotting of June amateur draft picks (kind of a cap on the signing bonuses for draftees). My gut tells me they'll be fine and come to an agreement in plenty of time; in fact, I've seen a few articles on the web that state that they're close and could have a plan within a week (from now) or so. Which is good, because, while the NBA is currently struggling, and the NFL just recently struggled, baseball has a history of some nasty, monumental struggles.
December 12. Deadline for teams to either tender a contract or not to their arbitration-eligible players. These players are under team control, but are entitled to a salary increase. If the team decides to tender a contract, they have until their arbitration hearing date (around the end of January or the beginning of February) to come to terms with the player. If the team declines to offer a contract, the player becomes a free agent.
Arbitration Eligible Players:I speculate that the Twins will not tender Mijares and Slowey. Although they could and then try to trade them.
February. Pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training (actual date not officially announced yet).
April 6. Opening Day at Balitmore
No Particular Date. Of course, at any time, the Twins may trade players under their control (yes, even Joe Mauer could be traded if he agrees to waive his no-trade clause and a team is willing to take on his contract -- 'tain't likely, though), but for now, they don't have to worry.
Players Under Contract:
Helpful Resources: I got a lot of information from this article on MLBTradeRumors.com and from this page on MLB.com.
I learned a lot of great stuff from the TwinsCentric Minnesota Twins GM Handbook. Not only does it go into details similar to what I have above, but it also grades players for 2011, reviews organizational depth charts, lists trade and free agent targets, and offer the authors' blueprints for 2012. Excellent stuff; I encourage you to buy one for yourself.