9 key 2020-21 offseason dates for Braves

Credit: Atlanta Braves

Braves manager Alex Anthopoulos addresses the 2020 team and expectations going forward.

Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos said following the team’s exit from the NLCS that Atlanta’s “goal is to win every year.”

The evaluation process has begun on two key roster spots: the middle of the lineup and the bullpen, where the team may see some defections via free agency. Here’s a look at the key baseball dates before the start of the 2021 season:

Oct. 28: Free agency. Atlanta has more than a dozen players, among them are relievers Mark Melancon and Shane Greene, whose contracts expire the day after a champion is crowned. (Players however, cannot sign with a new team until five days later.)

Three days after the World Series concludes, the Braves have to make a decision on Darren O’Day. The Braves hold the option to pay the reliever $3.5 million next season or pay his $500,000 buyout.

Nov. 9-12: Award season. 2020 Award winners for both leagues will be announced as following:

  • Nov. 9 - Rookie of the Year
  • Nov. 10 - Manager of the Year
  • Nov. 11 - Cy Young Award winners
  • Nov. 12 - Most Valuable Players

Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is a leading contender in the MVP category. Should he win, he would be the first Braves player to capture the award since Chipper Jones in 1999. Freeman was awarded the Players Choice award.

Dec. 2: Going to arbitration. Atlanta has a handful of players — including infielders Dansby Swanson and Johan Camargo — eligible for salary arbitration. (Players with three or more years but less than six years of league service are eligible to seek a raise.) Those not tendered a contract become free agents.

Dec. 6-10: Annual winter meetings. A usual hotbed for trade activity, the meetings are scheduled to be held in Dallas at the Omni Dallas Hotel. Likely to be a virtual event.

Dec. 10: Rule 5 Draft. Prospects must be added to 40-man roster by Nov. 20 to avoid selection by another club. The Braves last season protected outfielder Cristian Pache, catcher William Contreras, left-handers Tucker Davidson and Phil Pfeifer and righty Jasseel De La Cruz.

Jan. 15, 2021: Arbitration deadline. Final day for Braves to agree to salary terms with arbitration eligible players.

Feb. 16 or Feb. 17: Pitchers and catchers. Braves players are expected to report to the team’s spring home in North Port, Fla., for first workouts.

Feb. 27: Spring training begins. The Braves have an exhibition slate that includes 33 games from Feb. 27 to March 30. Braves’ CoolToday Park will host 17 games in its second season. The first home game will be March 1 against the Nationals.

April 1: Opening Day 2021. Atlanta opens the regular season in Philadelphia, the fourth time in five years the three-time division winners open on the road. The Braves’ home opener will be April 9 against the Phillies. (Truist Park is the home of the 2021 All-Star Game on July 13.)