The White Sox off-season began in earnest on Thursday with the declined options of Ken Griffey Jr. and Toby Hall. There was a flurry of this kind of activity around baseball thanks to the unwritten Don't Make Any Announcements During the Playoffs rule. In general, the announcements made immediately after the World Series, like the Royals-Marlins trade, were done during the playoffs. Thursday was just the post-series news dump.
For Toby Hall's sake, being included in that dump doesn't bode well for his future with the Sox. I made a point of noting that the declined option did not preclude him from returning, but it sure isn't a positive indicator.
We've passed the post-World Series news dump, the unofficial start to the hot stove league. So, what's in store over the next few days, weeks and months?
MLB Off-Season Timeline
- GM Meetings -- Nov. 3-6, 2008 -- Not much happens here. The GMs get together, drink some margaritas and do a little bowling. They can't sign players yet, and they rarely do more than compare notes. This is just a feeling out session before the Winter Meetings when the real action happens.
- Deadline to file for Free Agency -- World Series +10(?) days -- I'm not 100% sure on the deadline. It doesn't really matter.
- Free Agency Opens -- World Series + 15 days (in two weeks) -- The first day eligible players are allowed to sign with new teams
- Final day to protect players -- Nov. 20, 2008 -- The final day to add players to the 40-man roster in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft.
- Last day to offer salary arbitration -- Dec. 1, 2008 -- Orlando Cabrera is the only player the Sox figure to offer arbitration, as offering Uribe would mean they would have to pay him a minimum of $3.7M were he to accept.
- Last day to for declared free agents to accept arbitration -- Dec. 7, 2008 -- This should only apply to Orlando Cabrera.
- Winter Meetings -- Dec. 8-11, 2008 -- A flurry of trades, a bunch of signings, and even more false rumors. Culminates in the Rule 5 draft on the final day.
- Non-tender deadline -- Dec. 12, 2008 -- Final day to tender offers to arbitration eligible players.
Kenny Williams seemed to back up my theory that the Sox wont be active on the free agent market with some quotes to the press Thursday. In an article on ChiSox.com titled White Sox to begin youth movement, Williams was quoted profusely.
"You are going to experience the most vanilla, beige, vague person this winter," said Williams with a laugh. "It just gets, the people keeping track of the daily scorecard, it's difficult to navigate our way through.
"We'll continue to explore any and all options out there. But I think it really hurt us, in terms of our fan excitement and perceptions, for our  offseason to be viewed as a failure versus some of the little wins we had. We will try to avoid that as much as possible."