Key dates in Phillies' key offseason ahead

Key dates in Phillies' key offseason ahead

The World Series is underway, and all players with expiring contracts will become free agents at 9 a.m. the day after the Red Sox and Dodgers finish up.

Here's a list of key dates in a crucial upcoming offseason for the Phillies:

5 days after World Series ends

Exactly five days after free agency is declared, players are free to sign with new teams. 

15 days after World Series ends

The deadline for free agents to accept the one-year qualifying offer from their former team. 

Aside from Wilson Ramos, the Phillies have no soon-to-be free agents of note. Just veterans unlikely to be back like Asdrubal Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Aaron Loup. 

We took an early look in August at what it might take to re-sign Ramos. The picture has changed a bit with his continued health issues in the month of September.

Nov. 6-8 — GM Meetings

The general managers' meetings in California. Not quite as sexy as the Winter Meetings five weeks later, but this is where the feeling-out process for trades can begin. It's also where league issues are discussed. 

Nov. 4-15 — Awards season

Gold Gloves on Nov. 4.

Executive of the Year on Nov. 5.

Silver Sluggers on Nov. 8.

Rookies of the Year on Nov. 12.

Managers of the Year on No. 13.

Cy Youngs on Nov. 15.

MVPs on Nov. 15.

• Aaron Nola should finish third in the NL Cy Young race, behind Jacob deGrom and Max Scherzer.

• The Phillies will not have any Gold Glovers or Silver Sluggers.

• Ronald Acuña Jr. or Juan Soto will be NL Rookie of the Year, likely Acuña. In many other years, Walker Buehler would have gotten it.

• Curious to see if Gabe Kapler gets Manager of the Year votes. Obviously a wretched collapse, but he'll get credit nationally for the 14-win increase.

Nov. 30 — Non-tender deadline

This is the deadline for teams to decide whether to go through the arbitration process with eligible players or let them walk.

The Phillies are a young team so they have a host of interesting cases.

• Nola will be making 10 times more in 2019 than he did in 2018. Nola was at $573,000 this past season and has a first-year arbitration projection of $6.6 million.

• What happens with Cesar Hernandez ($8.9M projection) and Maikel Franco ($5.1M)? The non-tender deadline being Nov. 30 means we could see a trade of one or both players in the days or weeks before. 

If the Phillies can't find a suitable offer, it makes sense for a team with deep pockets to extend them contracts and hope to work out a trade later.

More on all the arbitration-eligible Phillies here.

Dec. 9-13 — Winter Meetings in Las Vegas

The baseball equivalent of draft day in the NBA or NFL. This is when most of the big trades go down and when groundwork is laid for future deals or free-agent signings.

By the end of the week of the Winter Meetings last year, the Phillies had signed Pat Neshek and Tommy Hunter and traded Freddy Galvis. A few days later, the Carlos Santana signing became official.

Dec. 13 — Rule 5 draft

Jan. 11 — Arbitration figures exchanged

Feb. 1-20 — Arbitration hearings

Feb. 22 — Phillies' first major-league spring training game

March 28 — Regular season opener at home vs. Braves

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Bryce Harper Mania is everywhere, even in Phillies' clubhouse

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Bryce Harper Mania is everywhere, even in Phillies' clubhouse

CLEARWATER, Fla. — You have Harper Mania. Your neighbor has Harper Mania. The caller on the radio show has Harper Mania. The guy getting his coffee and a turkey shorti at Wawa has Harper Mania.

Everyone is going just a little crazy waiting to see if Bryce Harper is going to be a Phillie.

Even the players.

“I saw a helicopter circling over here the other day and we were joking, saying it would be funny if he just landed here and got out,” Andrew McCutchen said Saturday.

Harper Mania reached a boil Friday night when Phillies owner John Middleton’s private jet — Air Middleton — touched down in Las Vegas. Middleton traveled to Harper’s hometown for a second face-to-face meeting — the first was in mid-January — as talks between the Phillies and the free-agent slugger intensified.

The Phils are widely considered the favorite to sign Harper, but you know relentless agent Scott Boras will work every last market and mystery team until his client makes a decision. The Phillies would love to see this thing resolved — one way or the other — in the next handful of days. When it’s over, Harper is expected to top the $300 million that Manny Machado got from San Diego earlier this week and maybe the record $325 million guarantee that Giancarlo Stanton received from Miami in a contract extension in November 2014.

Players like McCutchen — he signed with the Phils in December — are already fantasizing a little about what Harper could do for the Phillies.

“It changes the team,” he said. “It changes a lot for whatever team that he’s on. We feel like we have a really good team here. The Phillies have done a good job of getting some guys over here, getting (Jean) Segura, getting (J.T.) Realmuto, getting (David) Robertson. It’s a great team here and he’s only going to make it better. It would be amazing.”

McCutchen believes the Phillies have the talent to make a playoff run.

“I haven’t played a game yet but with the names of the guys we have around, I think we definitely have the ability to do that,” he said. “We have the talent here. We just have to put it together as a team.”

Adding Harper would enhance the club’s chances of making the playoffs. But good teams need more than talent.

McCutchen locked his hands together to create a tight bond.

“You can have a great, talented team but if you don’t have this, you’re not going to win,” he said, stressing the bond. “I don’t know if there’s ever been one team that won a championship that didn’t have that. It's always the final piece of the puzzle.”

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Jet belonging to Phillies owner John Middleton is in Bryce Harper's hometown of Las Vegas

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Jet belonging to Phillies owner John Middleton is in Bryce Harper's hometown of Las Vegas

CLEARWATER, Fla. — John Middleton’s private jet is on the ground in Las Vegas, a person in that city told NBC Sports Philadelphia on Friday night.

Las Vegas is the hometown of free-agent slugger Bryce Harper.

It is just a meeting and no deal will be signed Friday night, a source tells NBC Sports Philadelphia. No other details were immediately available, but the Phillies have had ongoing discussions with Harper since first visiting with him and his agent, Scott Boras, in Las Vegas on January 12.

The Phillies went into this offseason hoping to sign one of the game’s top free agents. They hosted Manny Machado in Philadelphia in December, but he ended up signing a 10-year, $300-million contract with the San Diego Padres this week.

Machado’s signing with the Padres left Harper as the Phillies’ primary focus.

Several clubs in addition to the Phillies have pursued the slugging outfielder. One of those clubs is the Washington Nationals, the team Harper came up with. The Nats made news early Friday when owner Mark Lerner said in an interview that the club had “moved on” from Harper. A comment like that would lead one to believe that the Nationals have pulled out of the Harper sweepstakes. However, in the same interview, Lerner said the “door was always cracked a little bit.” So maybe the Nationals are not out of it.

Harper is clearly seeking to top Machado’s deal and probably the $325 million guarantee that Giancarlo Stanton got from the Marlins in a 13-year extension. Stanton is now with the Yankees.

The Padres pursued Harper before signing Machado. The Giants have expressed interest. There has been talk of a mystery team. While it is unclear how many teams are still in pursuit of Harper, it is clear where the Phillies stand — or in this case, where they are parked.

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