Let the offseason begin

The World Series is in the books. The Boston Red Sox are your 2013 champions, bringing an end to quite an entertaining Fall Classic that left us with no shortage of dramatic plays and close calls to discuss around the water cooler.

The Red Sox were the most complete team in the postseason, and they earned the title. It marks quite a turnaround from a disastrous 2012 season and is yet another reminder that you never know what’s going to happen in this game.

In case you missed it, we also got one of the best postgame interviews of the season last night, courtesy of Koji Uehara’s son Kaz. I had to watch back that clip a good three or four times before my laughter had died down to the point I was ready to move on.

Ready for very early 2014 World Series odds? Of course you are. Here are the top five favorites to take home the title next season, per Pregame.com:

Dodgers: 5-1
Tigers: 8-1
Nationals: 8-1
Cardinals: 10-1
Red Sox: 12-1

Strangely enough, two of those five teams don’t currently have a manager. That shouldn’t be the case much longer, however, as the Nationals will announce Matt Williams as their new skipper sometime in the very near future, likely tomorrow.

We’ll have to see whether Williams and general manager Mike Rizzo are ready to announce the Nats’ coaching staff at that press conference, or whether they’re still trying to piece the staff together. It’s expected that Randy Knorr will return as bench coach, but what about pitching coach Steve McCatty, who has a great rapport with many of the hurlers on the Nats’ roster? What about hitting coach Rick Schu? What about Trent Jewett (who also interviewed for the managerial opening), Tony Tarasco and Jim Lett?

We’ll see how many familiar faces remain on the staff, and how much new blood Williams is allowed to bring in. He’ll likely want some of his own guys on his coaching staff; it just remains to be seen what roles they’ll serve.

Now that the offseason is here, we can start looking ahead to how things will play out over the next 14 weeks or so until pitchers and catchers report for the start of spring training.

The first step in the offseason is teams determining whether to extend a qualifying offer to any of their free agents. The qualifying offer, which is the average salary of the top 125 players in baseball, will be $14.1 million for the 2014 season. If a team extends a player a qualifying offer, and he turns it down and signs elsewhere, that team receives a compensatory draft pick.

The Nats only have two free agents - Dan Haren and Chad Tracy - and neither is expected to receive a qualifying offer. If the Nats didn’t extend a qualifying offer to Edwin Jackson last year when it was clear he’d be turning it down and getting a multi-year contract elsewhere, they won’t extend one to Haren.

Teams now have until Monday to tender free agents with qualifying offers, and come Tuesday, free agents that haven’t been given a qualifying offer are free to sign with any team. Come 12 days from now, players tendered with a qualifying offer have to either accept or decline the one-year, $14.1 million deal.

Then, we dig in and wait for all the action to begin. And wait. And wait.

We could see some moving and shaking at the general manager and owners meetings in Orlando from Nov. 11-13. Typically, however, those meetings are more for laying the groundwork for potential future deals.

You’ll see a trade go down at the GM/owners meetings from time to time, but don’t circle those dates on your calendar expecting major moves to happen.

Then come the Winter Meetings from December 9-12, also in Orlando. Here is where we’ll see a lot more movement in terms of free agent signings, trades coming together and serious movement toward structuring the roster.

We’ll also see a lot of reporters wandering around the hotel lobby refreshing Twitter and sending frantic text messages, including yours truly. Boy, I’m getting giddy just thinking about it.

That sarcasm come through OK?

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