December 1, 2009
At the stroke of midnight Eastern Standard time the first deadline of the off-season passed. Up until this time teams could offer arbitration to their pending free agents. After this deadline teams can still negotiate with their free agents but are not bound to an arbitration hearing if the sides cannot come to an agreement.
With the ratification of the last Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) two important changes came into play with regards to this deadline. Previously if a team did not offer salary arbitration to their free agent they were not allowed to resign the player until April 30th the next year.