The 2015 baseball season is officially over following the Kansas City Royals’ World Series Game 5 victory over the New York Mets early Monday morning, meaning it is now time to turn up the hot stove.
There’s no doubt this will be an offseason that Orioles fans will be watching closely. This team could change dramatically.
Free agency begins in earnest. The Orioles’ six free agents -- left-handed starter Wei-Yin Chen, first baseman Chris Davis, right-handed reliever Darren O’Day, outfielder Gerardo Parra, infielder/outfielder Steve Pearce and catcher Matt Wieters -- will officially be removed from the team’s 40-man roster at 9 a.m. Monday, thus officially becoming free agents.
The Orioles have exclusive negotiating rights with those six players for the next five days, until Friday at 11:59 p.m. local time. Other teams can express their interest in those players, but can’t talk money until Saturday, when they officially are free to talk terms with the other 29 teams. The Orioles have had extension discussions with some of their six pending free agents since their season ended, but not with all of them, according to industry sources.
The O’s also have the ability to make qualifying offers to five of their six free agents -- Parra is not eligible to receive one because he was a trade-deadline acquisition. They have five days, until Friday night, to make the other five an offer for a one-year, $15.8 million contract.
Players made qualifying offers -- Davis and Chen will most certainly be tendered offers and Wieters could be issued one as well -- have seven days to accept or decline the offer.
If they decline the offer -- none of the previous 22 players made a qualifying offer have accepted it -- the Orioles will receive a compensation draft pick next June if that player signs elsewhere. Also, the team signing those players must forfeit their highest draft pick in 2016.
The Orioles also currently have 11 arbitration-eligible players. Last season, the Orioles tendered contracts to all of their arbitration-eligible players, but this year that might not be the case.
There are certainties to be tendered -- third baseman Manny Machado, right-hander Chris Tillman, closer Zach Britton and right-hander reliever Brad Brach among them -- but that’s not the case for everyone. Raises for all 11 might not be in the Orioles’ payroll plan.
Utility man Ryan Flaherty, right-hander starter Miguel Gonzalez, infielder Paul Janish, outfielder David Lough, left-handed reliever Brian Matusz, outfielder Nolan Reimold and recently-claimed right-hander Vance Worley are all also arbitration eligible. Teams have until Dec. 2 to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.
Teams also have until Nov. 20 at 11:59 p.m. local time to add players to their 40-man rosters to protect them from the Rule 5 draft, which will occur on Dec. 10 on the final day of the winter meetings in Nashville.