The 2018 Major League season is officially over with the Red Sox winning yet ANOTHER championship (give it a rest, Boston). The end of the season means that all players eligible for Major League free agency are officially free agents. You can see a list of notable free agents here. Among the players eligible include Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar, who hit .231/.279/.313 last season. He will turn 32 and has been one of the worst hitters in baseball over the last four seasons, but he hit .297/.345/.392 after the All-Star break and teams may like his versatility and his glove. Free agents are not eligible to sign with a new club until Friday, November 2.
The Royals will also have until Wednesday, October 31 to decide on two options. Pitcher Jason Hammel has a $12 million mutual option with a $2 million buyout that will almost certainly be declined. Hammel had a 6.02 ERA in 127 innings for the Royals and was demoted to the bullpen mid-season. Wily Peralta has a $3 million club option with a $25,000 buyout that seems likely to be picked up. Peralta posted a 3.67 ERA in 34 1⁄3 innings with 35 strikeouts, although with a 23.5% walk rate and a 4.73 FIP.
The Royals will also have to decide whether to tender a contract to arbitration-eligible players by November 30. The Royals have six players eligible for arbitration, none of which are a sure bet to be tendered - Brandon Maurer, Cheslor Cuthbert, Nate Karns, Jesse Hahn, Brian Flynn, and Peralta, if his option is not picked up. The Royals will also have to make 40-man roster decisions for the Rule 5 draft, which will be held the final day of the Winter Meetings. Those meetings will be in Las Vegas this year, from December 10-13.
Not transaction-related, but another event to look for this off-season is the MLB All-Star tour of Japan. The tour this year will include Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield, who spent last off-season in Japan on a game show, and pitcher Scott Barlow. That tour will take place November 8-15 across Japan.
Tribe reliever Dan Otero will join the MLB roster for the upcoming Japan All-Star Series, which takes place from Nov. 8-15 across Japan. pic.twitter.com/IDEVZNbWZs— Jordan Bastian (@MLBastian) October 29, 2018
Other off-season dates to remember
November 6-8 - General Manager’s Meeting in Carlsbad, California
November 14-15 - Owner’s Meetings in Atlanta, Georgia
November 26-29 - MLBPA Executive Board Meeting in Irving, Texas
November 30 - Non-tender deadline
Decemer 9 - Hall of Fame Today’s Game committee vote announced
December 10-13 - Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, Nevada
January 2019 (TBA) - BBWAA Hall of Fame vote announced
January 11 - Salary arbitration figures exchanged
Mid-February (TBA) - Pitchers and catchers report to spring training
February 23 - Royals spring training opener vs. Texas Rangers
March 28 - Royals regular season opener vs. Chicago White Sox