When Yordan Alvarez unleashed hell and fury on a 99-mph fastball from lefty Jose Alvarado, sending something faster than a comet to the farthest reaches of Minute Maid Park in Houston on Saturday night, the 2022 season was effectively over.
Yes, it was only the sixth inning and Alvarez’s three-run homer had provided only a 3-1 lead. But even most die-hard Phillies fans understood that a Houston victory was inevitable.
And that sickly feeling for Mariners fans, who lived through a similar postseason moment with Alvarez in late innings, twice, resonated.
With their eventual 4-1 win and their fourth Champagne celebration of the postseason, the Astros closed the book on the 2022 season and officially started the offseason in preparation for 2023.
Here are a few important dates to consider.
Nov. 6 — The day after the final out of the World Series, players who have expiring major-league contracts become free agents. The Mariners have five players on the 40-man roster who will become free agents:
- Matthew Boyd, LHP
- Curt Casali, C
- Adam Frazier, IF
- Mitch Haniger, OF
- Carlos Santana, 1B/DH
The Mariners have a five-day window to negotiate with their expiring free agents on a possible reunion before other teams can make official offers.
This is also the first day that teams can make trades involving major-league players or “the most wonderful day of the year” for Jerry Dipoto, Mariners president of baseball operations
Nov. 7 — The finalists for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Awards will be announced at 3 pm PT on MLB Network. Three finalists for the Most Valuable Player Award, Cy Young Award, Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award and Manager of the Year Award in each league will be announced.
Obviously, Mariners rookie phenom Julio Rodriguez will be a finalist for the AL rookie of the year. He’s the favorite to win the award, having already earned similar honors from multiple publications and outlets. A reminder that voting for all BBWAA awards is submitted before the postseason begins. So Jeremy Pena’s magical run in the postseason won’t help the rookie shortstop unseat Rodriguez as the expected winner.
Manager Scott Servais is also a strong candidate to be a finalist if not the overall winner for the manager of the year award after leading the Mariners to their first postseason berth in 21 years. Seattle was 29-39 on June 20 and eight games back in the race for the third wild-card spot. The Mariners rebounded in astounding fashion, winning 22 of their next 25 games, including 14 straight games going into the All-Star break. Seattle finished the season with a 90-72 record.
Nov. 7 — The Major League Baseball Executive of the Year Award winner will announced at a welcome dinner a night before the annual general managers meetings. Dipoto should’ve garnered some consideration for the award with the 2022 team ending the franchise’s infamous postseason drought and several of his decisions being key in the team’s success, including the acquisitions of third baseman Eugenio Suarez before the season, the blockbuster trade that brought Luis Castillo to the Mariners at the deadline and the development and performances of homegrown talent like Rodriguez and pitchers Logan Gilbert and George Kirby.
Nov. 8-10 — The GM meetings begin officially in the morning at the swanky Conrad Hotel and Resort in the newly opened Resorts World property in Las Vegas. While the annual MLB Winter Meetings generate much of the attention, the less publicized GM meetings have become hotbeds of activity.
A year ago, Dipoto and the Reds engaged in multiple talks about acquiring Suarez, Castillo and Jesse Winker, and they all eventually became Mariners in future trades.
Always a fan of working early in the trade market, Dipoto and newly named general manager Justin Hollander are expected to be quite active over the short set of meetings. Agents for all of the top free agents on the market will be there for face-to-face meetings with interested clubs.
Nov. 10 — The fifth day after the World Series is the end of the “quiet period” for free agents. Their representatives can start negotiating or even sign with any team. It’s also the last day for a club to tender a “qualifying offer” to free agents.
Of the Mariners five free agents, only Haniger fits the criteria for being eligible for a qualifying offer.
Under the collective-bargaining agreement between the Major League Baseball Players Association and Major League Baseball, the Mariners can make a qualifying offer to Haniger because he was on their roster for the entire 2022 season.
The qualifying offer is a one-year contract for a salary that is the mean of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players.
The salary for a player receiving a qualifying offer would be $19.65 million for 2023. It’s the highest qualifying-offer salary since the system was enacted in 2011.
It would represent a significant raise for Haniger, whose salary was $7.75 million in 2022 in his final year of arbitration. The $19.65 million is more than the combined $14.87 million he made over six seasons in Seattle.
If a player declines a qualifying offer and opts for a free agency, his team would receive a compensatory pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. The position of that draft pick is based on the financial commitment of the player’s free-agent contract and if his former team is receiving revenue sharing from or paying MLB’s competitive balance tax (CBT).
Both sides have been quiet about Haniger’s future. He’s stated he’d like to return to the organization. But he’s also looking for some financial stability after finally reaching free agency.
This is also the deadline for MLB teams to return all players on the 60-day injured list back to the 40-man roster. Expect the Mariners to start making roster decisions in the days leading up to the deadline. Seattle currently has two players on the 60-day injured list: catcher Tom Murphy and reliever Casey Sadler.
Nov. 14 — The winners of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award for the American League and National League will be announced at 3 pm PT on MLB Network. Rodriguez will likely join Kyle Lewis (2020), Ichiro Suzuki (2001), Kazuhiro Sasaki (2000) and Alvin Davis (1984) as other Mariners rookies to win the award.
Nov. 15th — The deadline for any free agent who has received a qualifying offer from his former team to either accept or decline it.
The winners of the American League and National League Manager of the Year awards will be announced at 3 pm PT on MLB Network. A year ago, Servais finished second in the voting with Tampa’s Kevin Cash taking the honors.
Nov. 16 — The winners of the American League and National League Cy Young awards will be announced live on MLB Network at 3 pm PT.
Nov. 17 — The winners of the American League and National League Most Valuable Player awards will be announced live on MLB Network at 3 pm PT.
While Rodriguez won’t likely be a finalist, he could finish in the Top 10 in voting. It will be an interesting subplot considering his future salary and length of contract with the Mariners will be dependent on future MVP voting results.
Nov. 18 — The deadline for MLB teams to tender contracts to club-controlled and arbitration-eligible players for the 2023 season.
The Mariners currently have 12 arbitration-eligible players. Here is their year of arbitration and projected possible salary from MLB Trade Rumors algorithm:
- Tom Murphy (third year): $1.9 million
- Diego Castillo (second year): $2.9 million
- Paul Sewald (second): $3.6 million
- Ryan Borucki (second): $1.1 million
- Casey Sadler (second): $1.025 million
- Dylan Moore (second): $2 million
- Erik Swanson (first): $1.4 million
- Luis Torrens (second): $1.2 million
- Ty France (first): $4.7 million
- Abraham Toro (first): $1.4 million
- Kyle Lewis (first): $1.2 million
There are some very interesting situations with this group of arbitration-eligible players. The Mariners will have to make a decision on whether Murphy or Torrens will serve as backup catcher to Raleigh. Diego Castillo could be a non-tender candidate. It’s unlikely the Mariners would want to pay him and Sewald a combined $6 million in a season. Do the Mariners also want to pay Toro more than $1 million as a utility player if they decide to keep Moore on the roster?
It’s also the deadline for teams to place any players eligible for the Rule 5 draft to the 40-man roster for protection. A player signed at age 18 or younger must be added to the 40-man roster within five seasons or become eligible. A player who signs at 19 or older (college draft picks) must be added to the roster within four years. Obviously, a plethora of players will become Rule 5 eligible, but how many in the Mariners organization are worthy of protection in fear of them being taken in the draft by another team?
A few possibilities include:
- Isaiah Campbell, RHP
- Prelander Berroa, RHP
- Travis Kuhn, RHP
- Robert Perez Jr., 1B/OF
Dec. 5-7 — MLB Winter Meetings at the Hyatt Regency in San Diego.
Dec. 6 — The inaugural MLB Draft Lottery will be held in San Diego and also the 2023 World Baseball Classic Media Day. The Mariners could have more than 10 players committed to WBC teams going into spring training.
Dec. 7 — Rule 5 Draft in San Diego.
Feb. 24 — Mariners open Cactus League play vs. the Padres at Peoria Stadium.
March 30 — Opening day of the 2023 baseball season. The Mariners host the Guardians at T-Mobile Park.