When Does MLB Free Agency Begin?

Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics
Los Angeles Angels v Oakland Athletics / Michael Zagaris/GettyImages

The MLB offseason is upon us, as teams reshape their rosters and players decide where they will play next season. With that in mind, we're here to let you know the key dates of the 2023-24 offseason, including the start of free agency.

Free agency actually officially opened on November 6th. On Nov. 2, all eligible players (those with six-plus years of service time) who aren't under contract for 2024 became free agents. Their current teams had exclusive negotiating rights for the first five days, then the free-for-all began.

Most contract option decisions (team and player) were due on Nov. 6, which was also the date for teams to tender qualifying offers to their eligible free agents. A qualifying offer is a one-year contract worth the average of the top 125 salaries in the game. For the 2024 season, that would be $20.5 million.

On Nov. 6, free agency officially opened, and players are now able to negotiate with any team in baseball. Unlike the NBA and the NFL, MLB doesn't have a hard salary cap, so free agents don't have to rush to gobble up the remaining money on the table quickly. It is rare to see a string of quick contracts signed as players are able to weigh multiple options from multiple teams. It's not unusual for top players to take weeks or even months to find their next home.

So MLB's free agent period is officially open and there are a ton of great players on the market, including Shohei Ohtani.