Key dates: A look ahead to the Tigers offseason schedule

The 2015 season for the Detroit Tigers came to close Sunday afternoon with a shutout of the Chicago White Sox on the south side of the Windy City.

For a majority of Tigers fans, it is a relief that the pain and stress is all gone until next April when they begin the 2016 campaign in South Beach to take on the Miami Marlins in a rare interleague series on Opening Day.

For now though, it’s time for Tigers General Manager Al Avila and his associates to get down to business and explore all possibilities to fix this team in a quick snap. Who will fill out the rotation? Which pitcher(s) will help bolster the bullpen? Is the Tigers left fielder in-house or on the market? All viable questions for Avila and Co.

The postseason begins Tuesday night and baseball fans will not see Detroit in there for the first time since 2010. For those like myself who anxiously await every move the Tigers make this offseason, here is how the next roughly five months will pan out for Al Avila and the team.

  • Major league teams have up to five days after the conclusion of the World Series* to exercise any options for their players. The Tigers only have one, and it’s closer Joe Nathan, who made one appearance on Opening Day in 2015 and then was put on the shelf for the year and required potentially career-ending Tommy John surgery. It is a $10 million option, or a $1 million buyout for Nathan. (*Game 7 of the World Series is November 4, if necessary). It is after this five day period that all clubs can begin negotiating with free agents.
  • During that same five-day period for player options, clubs can also make qualifying offers to any impending free agents if they choose to do so. For the Tigers, this includes catcher Alex Avila, outfielder Rajai Davis, starters Alfredo Simon and Randy Wolf, as well as reliever Tom Gorzelanny. If any offers are made, the players then have up to one week to accept said offers.
  • November 9-12 signals the meeting of General Managers down in Boca Raton, Florida. This is typically the calm before the storm that is the annual Winter Meetings in Major League Baseball. GMs get together and exchange contacts and other nonsense, and begin extreme preliminary talks regarding their clubs.
  • December 7-10 are when the Winter Meetings will take place, this year in Nashville, TN. This is when the teams will really begin to conduct business and often teams are given the title of “Offseason champions” for their busy work at these meetings. December 10 also is the date for the Rule 5 Draft in Major League baseball, which is a second tier draft that helps balances rosters.
  • On Jaunary 12 of next year, the arbitration process for teams and the players they have team control over. This includes outfielder J.D. Martinez, shortstop Jose Iglesias, utility man Andrew Romine, and relievers Al Alburquerque and Neftali Feliz, although Feliz is a different situation and is likely to be non-tendered and not be on the 40-man roster. The dollar figures for each side are decided three days later and because an agreement is rarely reached initially, the arbitration hearings will take place throughout the first few weeks of February. (For the Tigers year-by-year roster breakdown, click here.)

After all of that off-the-field business regarding the team, players can voluntarily begin reporting to spring camp in Lakeland, Florida in late February. The mandatory report for all players in the organization is the first day of March, followed by the first exhibition against Florida Southern the next day.

The reboot begins now, Tigers fans.