End of World Series marks official beginning of an intriguing offseason for the Orioles

If you're a little groggy this morning, join the club. Yes, the baseball season ended well past midnight as Wednesday night turned into Thursday morning, but the end of Game 7 of the World Series offered an unforgettable finish to a memorable season.

Now that the Chicago Cubs have won their first World Series title in 108 years – since when Teddy Roosevelt was president – they have been released of the curse of the billy goat and the sting of Steve Bartman.


And as everyone wakes up today, the MLB offseason begins in earnest.

Free agents can officially file for free agency beginning today. And today starts a five-day window in which teams can exclusively negotiate with and sign their own free agents.


For the Orioles, it's the opportunity to reach out to free agents such as Mark Trumbo and Matt Wieters to gauge the likelihood of retaining them. The Orioles also have until Tuesday night to make their free agents a qualifying offer for a one-year, $17.2-million contract.

The Orioles will likely make that offer to Trumbo, who will enter free agency coming off the best year of his career. They are still weighing whether to make the offer to Wieters, but it seems unlikely.

Teams make these qualifying offers in order to gain a supplemental draft pick next year, but it also muddles the market on certain free agents attached to the qualifying offer because any other team that signs that player must forfeit its highest unprotected draft pick in 2017.

In the case of Trumbo, it's an easy decision. If he accepts the offer, you retain the majors' home-run leader for another season. But if he walks – which he's likely to do because he faces the prospect of an attractive multiyear deal at age 30 – the Orioles get an extra draft pick.

Wieters' situation is more complicated, especially given that he bucked the trend last season and was among the first three players to accept the qualifying offer. A decision on Wieters could affect the team's remaining offseason plans.

Last offseason, Wieters took the qualifying offer and played a full season to prove he was healthy coming off Tommy John surgery, raising his free agent stock while making $15.8 million.

Though Wieters' offensive numbers weren't great in 2016, he will be the top catcher available on a thin free-agent market, so he's looking at the possibility of a four- or five-year deal.

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Still, the Orioles have to consider the possibility Wieters takes the qualifying offer again if it's made, meaning the team would have invested a combined $33 million in Wieters over a two-year span. That's a lot of money.


The Orioles can also exclusively negotiate with free agents Michael Bourn and Steve Pearce, two players the team might be interested in retaining. If recent history is any indication, don't expect much movement on those fronts early.

After Tuesday, free agents can sign with any team, so that's when the proverbial hot stove starts to simmer.

Other important dates to note this offseason: On Nov. 18 teams must set their 40-man rosters for the upcoming Rule 5 draft (which takes place Dec. 8). Dec. 2 is the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

The Orioles could see a lot of roster movement between now and then. For the first time in a long time, they are not only committed to a lot of money in guaranteed deals to players, but also face the prospect of significant raises for their arbitration-eligible players. That will balloon their payroll before making any offseason additions. So the team could have to make some tough decisions on fringe arbitration-eligible players in order to trim payroll.

This is also the time for the Orioles to entertain extension talks with a variety of players, including right-hander Chris Tillman, who becomes a free agent after the 2017, as well as Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Adam Jones, who all become free agents at the end of the 2018 season. Jonathan Schoop doesn't become a free agent until after 2019, but he is another possible extension candidate.