offseason timeline

Sunday: First day that free agents can open negotiations with any team. It's also the last day for teams to offer free agents the qualifying offer, worth $18.9 million for one year, in order to receive draft-pick compensation if the player signs elsewhere. Nelson Cruz and Jake Odorizzi, two of the Twins' nine free agents, are not eligible for qualifying offers because they were offered it in the past, Odorizzi last fall and Cruz in 2014 by the Orioles. The qualifying offer, worth the average of MLB's 125 highest salaries, is now valuable enough that it's possible that Cruz or Odorizzi would accept it if offered again.

Nov. 11: Last day for free agents to accept or decline the qualifying offer. Declining it would mean a team signing that free agent would surrender a draft pick next summer, and his old team would receive a compensatory pick.

Nov. 20: Any eligible minor-leaguer (three years out of college or four years out of high school) who is not on a team's 40-man roster by this day can be chosen in the Rule 5 draft in December.

Dec. 2: Teams must offer contracts for 2021 to returning players by this day, or they become free agents. With payrolls likely to shrink this winter, it's widely believed that an unusually high number of veterans, considered too expensive for their likely contracts in arbitration, will be "non-tendered," which makes them free agents able to sign with a new team.

Dec. 10: Rule 5 draft, in which teams may claim eligible nonroster minor leaguers from other teams. Those players must remain in the major leagues for the entire 2021 season or be offered back to their original team. The Twins in the past have acquired such players as Shane Mack, Scott Diamond and Ryan Pressly in the draft, and traded for Rule 5 pick Johan Santana.

Jan. 15: Teams may begin signing international prospects if they have reached their 16th birthday, a process delayed six months by the pandemic. Also, unsigned arbitration-eligible players and their teams must exchange salary figures by this day. Hearings to determine salaries begin the following week.