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Here’s your official 2017-2018 offseason schedule

What’s happening when?

MLB: Winter Meetings Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas City Royals have quite an offseason ahead of themselves.

After winning the World Series in 2015, the Royals went 161-163, missing the playoffs both last year as well as this year. They must decide whether or not to rebuild, and if so, just how thoroughly. Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Lorenzo Cain, Jason Vargas, Alcides Escobar, and Mike Minor—a full 24% of their opening day lineup—will all become free agents simultaneously once the season ends, and the Royals must make important decision on each of them.

In addition, the Atlanta Braves general manager position is open, and they are very conspicuously lusting after Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. He must decide whether to stay or go, and that decision may perhaps be the biggest one of them all.

But the baseball offseason moves at a glacial pace. There are a bunch of events that will happen in the offseason. This is your one-stop shop to finding out what is where.

Free Agency

  • Quiet Period: begins November 2
  • Options decisions: Typically by November 4
  • Deadline to make Qualifying Offer to players: November 6
  • Full Free Agency: begins November 7
  • Qualifying Offer Acceptance Period: November 16
  • Non-tender deadline: December 1

Yes, free agency, the Thing that has loomed over the Royals for years and whose time has now come. Free agency is a bit tricky because the exact date changes depending on when the World Series ends. It’s laid out in Article XX-B of the Basic Agreement.

While you can peruse the exact rules, I’ll spare you the gory details if you aren’t interested. At the conclusion of the World Series, baseball enters what the Basic Agreement deems the ‘Quiet Period.’ During this five-day timeframe, eligible players are granted free agency, and those players may only sign a contract with their previous team, though they may negotiate with other teams as well.

At midnight of the fifth day following the last game of the World Series, all free agents who did not re-sign with their previous team during the Quiet Period may sign with any other team (including their previous team, even if they are unable to work out a deal during the Quiet Period).

In addition, each club can offer a one-year Qualifying Offer (QO) to any of their to-be free agents. The QO is equal to the top 125 salaries of the previous season, and it will be $17.4 million for the 2018 season. Players have a week after the Quiet Period to decide whether or not they will sign the QO; this period is termed the ‘Acceptance Period.’

Arbitration-eligible players must also be tendered a contract or else become a free agent. The Royals have four arbitration-eligible players and you can see their salary estimates here. The Royals will likely tender Kelvin Herrera and Nate Karns but may have a tougher decision on Brandon Mauerer and Mike Morin. The deadline to tender a contract to an arbitration-eligible player is December 1.

Positional Awards

  • Gold Glove: November 7 (nominees announced on Twitter on October 26)
  • Silver Slugger: November 9

Gold Glove nominees will be revealed on Twitter in late October, and will kick off many articles on who was snubbed and who should win the Gold Glove. The awards themselves will be revealed on ESPN show, kicking off another round of articles about who should have won. Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Alex Gordon, and Lorenzo Cain all have a chance at winning a Gold Glove, or at least nabbing a nomination.

The Silver Slugger award exists. They will be revealed on the MLB Network.

Individual Awards

  • Rookie of the Year: November 13
  • Manager of the Year: November 14
  • Cy Young: November 15
  • Most Valuable Player: November 16

All of these awards, for both the American League and the National League, will be announced on MLB Network. No Royal is in the running for any of these awards, though a few Royals (Hosmer, Cain, Scott Alexander, or Jake Junis) may accrue a vote or two.

General Manager Meetings

  • November 13-16 in Orlando, Florida

What are the GM Meetings, you might say? Well, they’re pretty much just your standard-issue corporate conference. According to the New York Post, the purpose of the GM Meetings is

To discuss the state of the game as well as build camaraderie among the clubs.

...But if that were all that transpired, then we wouldn’t care anywhere as much about these get-togethers. When they aren’t at meetings, GMs (and owners, in some instances) will convene with each other to exchange trade ideas, and spend time with player representatives, most of whom will be on site, to learn more about their free-agent clients.

But since the function of the GM Meetings is to discuss other matters, and because it’s relatively early in the offseason, there isn’t a huge amount of movement that happens during the meetings themselves. Rather, this is where foundations are sometimes laid for deals that occur later in the winter. Which brings us to...

Winter Meetings

  • December 10-14 in Orlando, Florida
  • Rule 5 Draft: December 14

Ah yes, the Winter Meetings. This is where deals really gain steam.

If the GM Meetings are a business conference, the Winter Meetings is baseball comic-con. Executives, agents, media, job-seekers, and exhibitors will come together for everything baseball. There are exhibitions, workshops, a job fair, and varying banquets.

There’s even a Gala! No, really, check out this registration brochure. This year’s Winter Meetings will celebrate the 10th anniversary of its annual Women in Baseball Leadership Event. Which is nice and all, but maybe someone should hire Kim Ng as a general manager? I’ll be she’ll even be there!

Capping off the Winter Meetings will be the Rule 5 Draft, a bizarre little piece of baseball procedure. It’s meant to prevent a team from stockpiling too many talented minor leaguers who could otherwise play in the Major Leagues, as each team gets the chance to ‘draft’ a player from a different team. Not all MiLB players are eligible, though, and the added twist—all drafted players must stay on the 25-man Major League roster the entire season or else the drafting team forfeits the player back—prevents it from becoming a huge foofaraw.

After the Winter Meetings and the Rule 5 draft, that’s it as far as official offseason events. It is a cold, hard two months until pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training in mid-February. And then optimism abounds. At least until opening day.