The Detroit Tigers (probably) won’t be signing Bryce Harper or Clayton Kershaw, and they won’t be trading Miguel Cabrera for a half dozen blue chip prospects this offseason. Still, the Tigers figure to be busy over the winter as they continue their rebuild. Here are some important dates to remember before Opening Day 2019.
October 23, 2018: The World Series begins with the Boston Red Sox hosting the National league champions at Fenway Park. The series will conclude no later than October 31, with Games 3, 4, and 5 (if necessary) in the National League team’s home park.
The day after the conclusion of the World Series: All players with at least six years of service time who are not under contract for the 2019 season will become free agents. Minor league players with six years of service will become minor league free agents if not added to a 40-man roster.
The Tigers’ free agents include Victor Martinez (who has announced his retirement) Jose Iglesias, Francisco Liriano, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Without those players, the Tigers’ roster will have 38 players, counting those on the disabled lists.
At the same time: Teams are required to move all players on the 60-day disabled list to the active roster. This means that Miguel Cabrera, Artie Lewicki, and John Hicks will fill three 40-man roster spots being vacated by departing free agents, at least temporarily. Iglesias is also on the DL, but will become a free agent.
For five days following the World Series, there is a “quiet period” when clubs can talk to free agents, but may not sign free agents from other clubs until the quiet period has expired.
Teams have five days after the World Series to exercise any club options for the next season, or to make a qualifying offer of $17.9 million for the 2019 season to their own potential free agents if the team is going to receive any compensation should those players sign with another team. Players have an additional 10 days to accept or decline qualifying offers. The Tigers will not be making any such offers, and have no options to exercise.
November 5- 15, 2018: The Baseball Writers Association of America will announce the finalists for the the Rookies and Managers of the year, Cy Young, and Most Valuable Player Awards on November 5. The winners will be announced from November 12-15. Can you think of any Tigers who might get an award? (crickets)
November 6, 2018: The Gold Glove and Silver Slugger award winners will be announced.
November 6- 8, 2018: General managers meetings take place in Carlsbad, Calif.
November 20, 2018 is the deadline for clubs to turn in their 40-man reserve lists with the names of players who will be protected in the Rule 5 draft. Players who were drafted out of college in the 2015 draft, or those drafted out of high school or signed as international free agents under the age of 19 in 2014, are eligible.
Every player added will need a spot on the team’s 40 man roster, which means that roster cuts will be made to make room. Teams also need an open spot on their 40-man roster if they are going to select a player in the Rule 5 draft. Bless You Boys will have full coverage as decision day approaches.
November 30, 2018: Clubs must tender contract offers to players on their rosters who are not under contract for the 2019 season, or they will become free agents. Possible non-tenders for the Tigers could include James McCann, Louis Coleman, Pete Kozma, and Alex Wilson, who are all eligible for arbitration. The club may attempt to reach agreement on a contract for these players before heading down the arbitration path, as they did with Blaine Hardy last season.
December 9- 13, 2018: The MLB Winter Meetings will take place in Las Vegas, Nev.
December 13, 2018: The Rule 5 draft will take place on the final day of the Winter Meetings, starting at 9:00 a.m. Eastern.
January 11, 2019: Clubs and arbitration-eligible players must exchange salary figures. In addition to Wilson, McCann, Kozma, and Coleman, the Tigers’ arbitration-eligible players include Nicholas Castellanos, Shane Greene, Michael Fulmer, Matt Boyd, Daniel Norris, Blaine Hardy, and Drew VerHagen. This list will be confirmed once the Super-Two eligibility is confirmed.
February 1- 20, 2019: Arbitration hearings will be held for those eligible players who do not come to terms with their clubs before their hearing date.
February 14, 2019: Pitchers and catchers report to spring training (give or take a day).
February 23, 2019: Spring training games begin with the Tigers taking on Southeastern University. You can see the Tigers’ entire 2019 spring training schedule here.
March 28, 2019: Opening Day! The Tigers begin a four game series at Toronto. Here is the Tigers’ 2019 regular season schedule.
April 4, 2019: The Tigers’ home opener against the Kansas City Royals at Comerica Park.
Also good to know
Castellanos, Wilson, and Coleman are the three Tigers players who are under club control for just one more season before being eligible for free agency, which makes them candidates to be traded during the offseason.
The Tigers have several players who have marginal value that could be released or outrighted to the minor leagues. If a player has been outrighted previously in his career, or if he has six seasons of minor league service, he can refuse the assignment and become a free agent. Otherwise, he can be assigned to a minor league club.