The 2021-22 offseason has officially begun. Below is the usual offseason primer, with all of the key dates to keep in mind. The biggest key date is December 2nd, when the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. That could alter the offseason in a big way, especially with free agency signings, extensions, and the Winter Meetings.
Teams must reinstate players from the 60-day injured list no later than five days after the end of the World Series, getting their rosters down to 40-men. The deadline this year is on Sunday. The Pittsburgh Pirates have seven players on the 60-day injured list and one open spot on the 40-man.
Here are the players who are on the IL: Steven Brault, Blake Cederlind, Chase De Jong, Dillon Peters, Jose Soriano, Duane Underwood Jr., and Bryse Wilson.
Teams must also make decisions on option years no later than 11:59 PM EST on Friday night. The Pirates have decisions to make on the following players:
Felipe Vazquez – $11M club option, $1 M buyout
I’m not sure if the Pirates have to pay anything either way in this, but expect Vazquez to be removed from the roster officially this offseason.
November 19th marks the deadline for teams to set their 40-man rosters for the 2021 Rule 5 draft. Teams can make changes to the 40-man roster after November 19th, although they can’t add any new internal players to the roster between November 19th and the 2021 Rule 5 draft, held on December 9th. Of course, this is all assuming things will be working as normal by this point.
The Pirates still have Rule 5 eligibility to fulfill for Jose Soriano. He could also be offered back to the Angels if they didn’t want to use a 40-man spot on him all winter. Considering any issues with the CBA might slow and delay player additions this offseason, he might not be difficult to roster throughout the offseason.
Arbitration Eligible Players
Teams have until December 2nd to tender offers to their arbitration eligible players for the 2022 season. The Pirates have 11 players who are eligible for salary arbitration this year. Here are the players, and their projected arbitration prices, according to MLBTR:
- Chasen Shreve – $2.3MM
- Chad Kuhl – $3.0MM
- Ben Gamel – $2.9MM
- Wilmer Difo – $1.1MM
- Colin Moran – $4.0MM
- Chris Stratton – $2.2MM
- Steven Brault – $2.2MM
- Jacob Stallings – $2.6MM
- Kevin Newman – $2.2MM
- Michael Perez – $900K
- Bryan Reynolds – $4.5MM
Once offers are tendered, the two sides (the team and the player) will work to reach an agreement. If no agreement can be reached, the two sides file for arbitration, during the first two weeks of January. Once they file for arbitration, the two sides exchange salary figures on January 14th, and have their salary arbitration hearing during the first three weeks of February. The sides can reach a deal outside of the arbitration process at any time before the actual hearing, even immediately before the scheduled hearing.
If the negotiations do reach the hearing, both sides will argue their case for the salary they submitted, and the three person arbitration panel will determine which salary is more appropriate for the player. All decisions made by the panel are final, although the club and the player are free to re-negotiate the deal.
December 2nd is also the same date that the current Collective Bargaining Agreement expires. That will provide an interesting twist to the non-tender coverage if the league is under a lockout. I can’t imagine it will change a team’s plans on whether they’d keep a player for a planned 2022 season.
November 3rd marks the beginning of a five-day period in which teams retain exclusive negotiating rights with their players who qualify for free agency. The Pirates have three players who qualify for free agency: Trevor Cahill, Yoshi Tsutsugo, and Shelby Miller. Pending free agents can have general discussions with other clubs during this five-day period, but can’t discuss contract details or sign with a new team until November 8th.
The big topic during this period will be the qualifying offers for the pending free agents. Teams have five days to decide if they will make a qualifying offer to departing free agents. This year the offer is $18.4 M for one year. If the player accepts that offer, the team gets him for the 2022 season on that deal. If the player declines and signs with another team, the former team gets a draft pick in the 2022 draft.
I would assume that system would remain in place for at least one more year, though I wonder if the qualifying offer system will be adjusted in future years under a new CBA.
International Free Agency
The 2021-2022 International Signing Period begins on January 15th, 2022, and runs through December 15th. This is another area where the system could change with a new CBA. However, most of the deals on the international side are worked out far in advance, and it would be a surprise to see MLB imposing any changes for this signing period. John Dreker is the man to follow for all Pirates international news.