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Monday is the first of two qualifying offer deadlines

Monday’s Say Hey, Baseball is all about the next step in the offseason and free agency.

Tampa Bay Rays v Baltimore Orioles Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images

With the Astros' World Series victory and championship parade behind us, the offseason feels even more official. On Monday, it will take one more step toward truly feeling like it's here, too, as the deadline to submit qualifying offers to free agents is at 5 p.m. ET.

This is the first of two qualifying offer deadlines, the second coming 10 days from now: That's the final day for any free agent who received a qualifying offer to accept or reject it.

Qualifying offers are the same in principle under this new collective bargaining agreement. A free agent who was with his previous team for the entirety of the season can be submitted a qualifying offer, which will bring back some kind of draft pick and will cost the team signing them a pick. That's just the basics, though: The details are far different than they used to be, in terms of which teams get picks and what picks and which picks can be lost.

The idea was to move the system closer to true free agency, where players are no longer burdened by their previous teams in their search for a new job. MLB isn't quite there yet, but free agency is one of the few areas where the MLB Players Association has been able to win victories for its members of late.

We'll have to see if that theory plays out in the real world, since this is the first offseason using the new qualifying offer rules, but it's hard to imagine things will be worse off for the non-elite players who receive qualifying offers than they used to be.