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The 2021-22 Offseason Begins


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The Braves wrapped up their first World Series title in 26 years tonight, beating the Astros 7-0 to secure a six-game victory. Atlanta’s title wraps up a 162-game season that featured increased fan attendance as the season progressed, a comparatively normal campaign after 2020’s shortened season.

With the 2021 season in the books, the league and its fans turn their attention to another offseason of uncertainty. This time, it’s potential labor strife that looms. With the current collective bargaining agreement set to expire in a little less than a month’s time, there’s seemingly real potential for a work stoppage. The state of discussions between MLB and the Players Association figures to dominate industry headlines over the coming weeks, but the offseason is slated to follow its typical routine at least until the current collective bargaining agreement expires on December 1.

The CBA (or lack thereof) could throw the sport’s post-December 1 calendar into a state of flux. There’s as much uncertainty about how this offseason will progress as any in recent history, then, but here’s how things are currently scheduled to pan out:

November 3: The beginning of a five-day period where teams and players must decide whether to exercise or decline contract options and opt-out clauses for the 2022 season. Eligible free agents cannot sign with anyone but their current team for five more days.

November 7, 4:00 pm CST: The deadline for teams to issue qualifying offers (one-year, $18.4MM contracts) to eligible free agents. For a breakdown of the draft choices teams would forfeit by signing a qualified free agent, see here.

November 8: Free agency officially opens.

November 8-11: General managers’ meetings, hosted in Carlsbad, California.

November 17: Deadline for players tagged with a qualifying offer to accept or reject the QO.

November 19: Deadline for teams to add players to the 40-man roster to keep them from selection in the Rule 5 draft.

December 1, 11:59 pm: Expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement. If MLB and the MLBPA do not agree on a new CBA by then, the league may institute a lockout that freezes teams’ ability to make transactions until negotiations are resolved.

December 2: The deadline for teams to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players.

December 6-9: Winter meetings scheduled to take place in Orlando, Florida.

December 8: Rule 5 draft.

December 15: Conclusion of the 2020-21 international amateur signing period. Typically scheduled to run from July through June, the 2020-21 and 2021-22 international signing periods were delayed to run from January through December as part of MLB’s COVID-19 rules changes.

January 14, 2022: Date for teams and arbitration-eligible players to exchange filing figures. Teams and players are still free to settle and avoid arbitration after this date, although many clubs elect to proceed with a “file-and-trial” strategy — essentially deciding to proceed to a hearing with any players with whom a settlement is not reached by then.

January 15, 2022: The scheduled start of the 2021-22 international amateur signing period. The 2021-22 period is scheduled to run through December 15, 2022.

February 26, 2022: First games of Spring Training.

March 31, 2022: Opening Day.