Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings will take place from December 4- 8, 2016, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, which is situated just south of Washington, D.C. on the Potomac River. Baseball executives, agents, some players, vendors, members of the media and job seekers are among the estimated 3,000 people who gather at the winter meetings for baseball’s biggest offseason event of the year.
The grand convention includes workshops and a daily trade show, as well as a job fair for anyone interested in a career in the baseball industry. On the last day of the winter meetings, the annual Rule 5 draft will take place.
The excitement surrounding the winter meetings centers on club executives discussing trades with other executives, and contracts with player agents. These are the subjects that feed the rumor mill and stoke the flames of the hot stove season.
The Tigers have made it known that they will listen to offers for any players that will help them to get younger and reduce payroll as they alter their team business model going forward. Detroit has been one of the more active teams during the winter meetings in recent years.
At the Winter Meetings one year ago, the Tigers signed pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Mark Lowe, and acquired Justin Wilson from the New York Yankees for two minor league pitchers. A year earlier, they acquired Shane Greene for Robbie Ray. The previous December, Ray was acquired in a trade for Doug Fister.
It was at the Winter Meetings in 2007 that the Tigers acquired Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis from the Florida Marlins for six players. In 2009, Detroit traded Curtis Granderson and Edwin Jackson for four players, including Austin Jackson and Max Scherzer. All these deals happened around the winter meetings.
December 2, two days before the meetings begin, is the date for clubs to tender contracts to their non free agent players in order to keep them under club control for another season. The Tigers non-tendered Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz on this date in 2015. Utility man Andrew Romine could be on the non-tender bubble this year.
December 1 will mark the expiration of the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA). The luxury tax, elements of the free agent compensation scheme, and other basic details of the agreement that provide the foundation for contracts between teams and players will expire on that date, absent an agreement to extend them.
Players and owners apparently have an understanding about at least some of the details regarding qualifying offers and free agent compensation this offseason, but there is still some uncertainty about how things will work under a new CBA, and this could stall the signing of some of the top tier free agents.
The Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) holds its annual meeting at this time, including a meeting of the Hall of Fame committee where the three Veterans’ Committees select members for induction into the Hall. They also select winners of the annual Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting, the Taylor C. Spink Award for baseball writing, and the King of Baseball Award for an outstanding minor league player. They also honor the Scout of the Year at a special banquet.
The official MLB meetings themselves are no big deal, as the General Managers’ meetings and Owner’s meetings took place in November. Those meetings often lay the groundwork for trades or free agent signings that are finalized at the winter meetings. There are several committee meetings and minor league meetings that take place. The full agenda for the meetings and events is posted here.
A four day job fair is hosted by Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities (PBOE or @PBOEJobfair on Twitter). Recent college graduates seeking internships and employment opportunities with minor league clubs conduct on site interviews, and up to 500 workers are hired each year to fill job postings. Admission is $200 plus $50 for annual PBOE membership.
A baseball trade show takes place for three days featuring vendors who provide everything from uniforms to playing equipment to stadium and concessions equipment and entertainment products.
The 2015 winter meetings were in Nashville, Tennessee, and the 2017 winter meetings will be in Orlando, Florida. Every major league team, as well as 160 minor league clubs, will have representatives at the meetings.
The Rule 5 draft is held on the last day of the winter meetings. Not all teams will participate, and some general managers head out early to catch a plane while those that have roster spots to fill stick around and see what players are available. The Tigers acquired Jeff Kobernus and Kyle Lobstein through trades at the Rule 5 draft in 2012.