The World Series is over, the Texas Rangers are champions, and now the Orioles’ offseason truly begins.

The path through the winter will be interesting in Baltimore. The Orioles are past their rebuild, exhibited by their 101-win season in which they claimed their first American League East championship since 2014. There are ample prospects remaining in the pipeline to go with the young stars already at the major league level.

The question becomes: How does Baltimore build from here?

The beginnings of an answer can become clear as soon as today. With the conclusion of the World Series, the baseball world can enter into trade discussions. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, but it’s a foray through which Baltimore could find itself an experienced starting pitcher to bolster a rotation that faded in a three-game postseason sweep to the eventual champions.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Here’s an outline of key dates this offseason and what will be on the Orioles’ schedule at each juncture.

Kyle Gibson, who signed with the Orioles during last year's Winter Meetings, will soon become a free agent. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

Trades, options and free agency

The end of the World Series means trade discussions can resume immediately — officially one day after the Fall Classic. There are two other World Series-dependent developments that also occur: Within five days of the World Series, all options must be exercised and qualifying offers must be extended to players.

And, then five days after the Series, free agency begins.

The first matters little to Baltimore. There are no players with options in their contracts for 2024, so there will be no decisions on that front. However, the Orioles could technically extend a qualifying offer to one of several pending free agents, such as Adam Frazier and Kyle Gibson.

Emphasis on technically.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

A qualifying offer means the pending free agent would receive a one-year contract offer worth the mean salary of MLB’s 125 highest-paid players (approximately $20.5 million, according to MLB.com). Frazier and Gibson — signed to one-year deals worth $8 million and $10 million, respectively — won’t command a salary of that price.

The qualifying offer protects teams from losing a key player in free agency through draft compensation. That is, if a player leaves despite a qualifying offer, his original team is due a draft pick and his new team loses a draft pick. The deadline for a player to accept his qualifying offer is Nov. 15.

Baltimore won’t have to worry much about qualifying offers — unless the Orioles spend big on a free agent who received one.

The free agent market will be interesting to watch for the Orioles. They don’t need to make a big splash for a position player, considering most of their main contributors will return, but general manager and Executive Vice President Mike Elias has yet to hand out a contract guaranteeing a player more than one year with his club. Will this be the year that changes?

Gunnar Henderson is a front-runner for American League Rookie of the Year. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Awards

Members of the Orioles, from Gunnar Henderson to manager Brandon Hyde, are in line to receive recognition for their stellar years.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

The first major award announcement comes Sunday at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN, when the network unveils the Gold Glove winners. Baltimore has three finalists for the award: catcher Adley Rutschman, first baseman Ryan Mountcastle and left fielder Austin Hays.

Henderson is a front-runner for the American League Rookie of the Year award, with an announcement scheduled for Nov. 13. Hyde could win American League Manager of the Year (Nov. 14), and right-hander Kyle Bradish has an outside chance to win the AL Cy Young Award (Nov. 15). Finally, the MVPs for the National and American leagues will be announced Nov. 16.

In addition, the contemporary committee Hall of Fame voting results will be announced Dec. 3. There’s Orioles interest: Hank Peters and Davey Johnson are in consideration.

Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias talks on the phone before the start of the Orioles and New York Yankees game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 08, 2023 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Mike Elias has not signed a player to a long-term contract during his time as Orioles general manager. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Meetings

Although free agency begins five days after the World Series, it doesn’t typically pick up until after several more steps. The general manager meetings Nov. 7-9 are the first step toward movement, with front office executives meeting to discuss leaguewide issues, pick up intel on players and contracts, and begin jockeying for the best players.

More movement arrives at the Winter Meetings, which are in Nashville, Tennessee, Dec. 4-7. Last year, the Orioles signed Gibson during the Winter Meetings. That was their one major move during the week, although Elias has said he considers it “an information-gathering event, first and foremost.”

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Baltimore left the Winter Meetings with more on the wish list, and it will likely do the same this year, too. In early December, the free agent and trade market is only just beginning.

While there, though, the Orioles could dip into the Rule 5 draft market for the 18th straight year. The last time Baltimore didn’t select a player in the Rule 5 draft was 2005, and if there’s ever a time to break the streak, it would be this year, when the major league roster isn’t in need of a longtime minor leaguer who must remain on the active roster at least 90 days.

Outfielder Austin Hays, a Gold Glove finalist, is eligible for arbitration this offseason. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

More deadlines

One of the earlier deadlines this offseason comes Nov. 17: the nontender deadline. Clubs must tender contract offers to players on the 40-man roster with fewer than six years of major league service time by this date. The details of the contract, however, don’t need to be worked out.

For the players not eligible for arbitration, it’s straightforward. They’ll make league minimum. But Baltimore has a slew of arbitration-eligible players — a level reached once a player has three or more years of service time — including outfielders Anthony Santander, Cedric Mullins and Hays.

All three, and others, are due for pay raises through the arbitration system. While the Orioles will signal their intention of signing those players for 2024 by the Nov. 17 deadline, they have until Jan. 12 to agree to a deal with those players.

The Baltimore Banner thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Should the players and club differ on their proposals, arbitration hearings will be held from Jan. 29 to Feb. 16, with an independent review board determining whether the team’s or player’s proposed deal is worthy.

Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, Florida, will again serve as the Orioles' spring training home. (Ulysses Muñoz/The Baltimore Banner)

Baseball returns

After a long winter of roster machinations, the Orioles return to the field for their first spring training game Feb. 24 in Sarasota, Florida. And on March 28 the Orioles welcome baseball back to Baltimore at Camden Yards against the Los Angeles Angels.

There’s much to do before then. But it’s with another 162-game slog in mind that Elias and Baltimore’s front office will work all winter.

andy.kostka@thebaltimorebanner.com

Andy Kostka is an Orioles beat writer for The Baltimore Banner. He previously covered the Orioles for The Baltimore Sun. Kostka graduated from the University of Maryland and grew up in Rockville.

More From The Banner