Shane Victorino is a World Series champion and the Phillies have a Top 10 draft pick. That about sums up baseball season here in the Delaware Valley. Perhaps, then, some congratulations are in order, because today is officially the first day of the rest of our lives. Today, everybody is undefeated, and our focus can shift exclusively to 2014.
So what now?
Glad you asked:
1) The free agent signing period begins on Tuesday. Between now and then, teams and players may express interest to each other, although technically they are not supposed to actually engage in negotiations. We're pretty much in the "Do you like me, check yes or no" phase of free agency. But things will get hot and heavy pretty quick. The so-called "quiet period" ends at 11:59:59 p.m. on Monday night. After that, it's TV-MA.
2) Also by 11:59:59 p.m. on Monday night teams must decide whether to extend qualifying offers to their prospective free agents. The only two players who this could realistically apply to are Roy Halladay and Carlos Ruiz, but I don't think either will get an offer from the Phillies. Players have until Nov. 11 to accept a qualifying offer, at which point they would be signed to a one-year, $14.1 million contract for 2014. That's a lot of money, and it would probably make sense for both Halladay and Ruiz to accept. Consider that the richest contract awarded to a catcher last offseason was a two-year, $17 million deal to Russell Martin, who was younger and more productive than Ruiz in his walk year. Halladay will be hard pressed to get a team to guarantee him $14 million given the state of his shoulder.
3) The MLB general managers meetings are Nov. 11-13 in Orlando. In the five that I've covered, I don't think the Phillies have generated even a tidbit of hard news.
4) The Phillies do not have to decide whether to tender arbitration-eligible players a contract until Dec. 2. Kyle Kendrick will be their most expensive player in that category, but GM Ruben Amaro Jr. has already said that Kendrick will be returning. That probably means paying him north of $7 million next year. I would expect John Mayberry Jr. to be non-tendered or traded, although the Phillies could convince themselves to agree to a cheap one-year deal with him before the deadline, much like they did last year with Kevin Frandsen (who, at first glance, does not have an obvious role on next year's team).
So your important dates are Nov. 5 (this coming Tuesday), Nov. 11, and Dec. 2.
One other thing: teams must decide whether to exercise any options by Tuesday. The Phillies do not have any decisions to make, but those made by other teams will affect the amount of talent at certain positions of need in free agency, particularly relievers (Jose Veras, Casey Janssen, Matt Belisle). The Rays would seem a good bet to exercise Ben Zobrist's $7 million option. Likewise the Athletics with Coco Crisp's $7 million option. But given both teams' revenue situation, you never know.