With the World Series now over, all eyes in the baseball world turn to the 2023-24 offseason. For a summer sport, the business of baseball is really a year-round activity.
With numerous deadlines and important dates sprinkled throughout the winter months, what are the key dates we need to remember as the Philadelphia Phillies, along with 29 other front offices, prepare for the 2024 season?
Let's take a look at the calendar of important dates to know over the course of the Phillies 2023-24 offseason.
Five days after the World Series ends - Free agency opens, contract option decisions due
Teams can sign free agents beginning five days after the World Series ends, whenever that is. It's not a fixed date until someone hoists the trophy and gets soaked in beer and champagne.
If the Rangers wrap up the World Series in five games, the Free Agency will kick off early next week. If the Diamondbacks extend the Fall Classic, we could be waiting until the end of next week.
The Phillies' offseason free agent activity will likely depend on what happens with Aaron Nola, who Dave Dombrowski said is their number one offseason priority. If they manage to retain the services of the career Phillie, they won't need to go out and land a big name front-of-the-rotation starter. If he leaves, expect them to be very active in finding a replacement.
They'll also need to shore up the bullpen and work on filling out the fringes of the roster.
Also, decisions on contract options are due by this time. The only player with an option for next season is infielder Scott Kingery. The Phillies' former second-round pick spent all year in Triple-A without getting so much as a sniff at the majors. Now 29 years old, the $13 million team option for 2024 seems steep for a minor-league depth piece, while his $1 million buyout looks much more appealing.
Qualifying offers have to be extended by this date as well. The estimated qualifying offer value this offseason will be "very close to $20.5 million," per Joel Sherman of the New York Post. The only players the Phillies have that might receive a qualifying offer are Aaron Nola (likely) and Rhys Hoskins (depending on what the Phillies decide to do at first base).
Roster protection deadline - Nov. 14
In order to protect eligible minor league players from the Rule 5 Draft, the Phillies have to add them to the 40-man roster by 6 p.m. ET on Nov 14. While this typically includes top prospects, it doesn't have to.
Players who have been in the minor leagues for 4-5 seasons and aren't on a MLB 40-man roster are eligible for the Rule 5 draft. Carlos de la Cruz, No. 6, and Samuel Aldegheri, No. 28, are the only two Phillies prospects on MLB Pipeline's top 30 eligible for the Rule 5 draft this year.
Non-tender deadline - Nov. 17
The non-tender deadline is just a few days after the roster protection deadline. Arbitration-eligible players on the 40-man roster learn if they'll be tendered a contract for 2024. If they're "non-tendered," they become a free agent.
When a player is non-tendered, it's usually because the raise that player is expected to receive through arbitration is more than the team wants to pay. Or it could simply be that the team wants to make space on the 40-man roster.
The Phillies have eight players who are arbitration-eligible this offseason. Alec Bohm, Ranger Suárez, Jeff Hoffman, and Gregory Soto are the four from that list who are all but assured of being back in red pinstripes next season.
Winter Meetings, Rule 5 Draft, Draft Lottery - Dec. 3-6
The Winter Meetings are the big event of the offseason. Plenty of news and signings come out of the four-day meetings. Last year's locale was sunny San Diego. This year, the gathering will take place in Nashville from Dec. 3-6.
Signings, trades, and rumors of signings and trades are always plentiful during this event. Every team's front office attends, as do agents. While some deals are made during the meetings, a lot more groundwork is laid for future deals.
Two other special events will be held during the Winter Meetings.
The MLB Draft Lottery is scheduled for Dec 5. The Phillies are not invited to that party, as they made the playoffs again, so aren't eligible for the lottery. Their pick in the first round is already set at No. 27.
The Rule 5 Draft will take place Dec. 6 and mark the unofficial end of the Winter Meetings.
In the Rule 5 Draft, teams can select minor league players from other organizations for $100,000 a pop and place them on their own 40-man roster. These selections must be assigned to the drafting team's 26-man roster.
Last year, the Phillies took pitcher Noah Song from the Red Sox, but eventually returned him after an unsuccessful rehab stint in the minors.
Arbitration filing deadline - Jan. 12
Arbitration-eligible players who didn't settle at the non-tender deadline will have to settle their salary for the 2024 season by Jan. 12 or risk going to an arbitration trial. When the deadline passes, the team and the player must file a salary number. If the numbers don't match, the decision is left up to a neutral arbiter.
Negotiations can continue up until the trial, which usually happens in February, but teams typically discontinue talks after the deadline.
International signing period opens - Jan. 15
The international signing window opens on Jan. 15. This is when teenagers, usually from Latin America, sign contracts with organizations.
Last year, the Phillies mined the international shortstop supply by signing Starlyn Caba for $3 million. Caba is the team's No. 13 prospect, per MLB Pipeline. William Bergolla Jr., who the Phillies signed in 2022 for over $2 million, is now their No. 10 prospect, per MLB Pipeline.
Phillies pitchers and catchers report - Feb. 13-15
Finally! This three-day period marks the end of the offseason as pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training. All teams begin reporting during this time. The middle of February is usually when the rest of the players show up to camp, although the official date hasn't yet been announced.