The Winter Meetings, baseball's annual hot stove extravaganza, have been canceled as an in-person event due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, MLB announced Friday. All events will take place remotely instead. The annual offseason owners meetings have also been canceled as in-person events and will be held remotely.

The 2020 Winter Meetings were scheduled to take place Dec. 6-10 at the Omni Dallas Hotel and Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Texas. The Winter Meetings are typically the busiest four days of the offseason, with lots of trades and free agent signings and rumors. Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, and Stephen Strasburg all signed during the Winter Meetings last winter.

The annual Rule 5 Draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings and it will presumably be held remotely this year. The Rule 5 Draft is a mechanism to give players opportunities at the MLB level and prevent teams from burying prospects in the minors. Players selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team's MLB roster all season, or be returned to their former team.  

Truth be told, the Winter Meetings are a minor league event. MLB just tags along. Winter Meetings events include the Baseball Trade Show, the PBEO Job Fair, and educational workshops. But, when you put all 30 general managers plus agents in one place, deals inevitably get done. The Winter Meetings are a fun time for baseball fans.

MLB canceled the annual GM Meetings as an in-person event a few weeks ago. They will instead be held remotely. The GM Meetings are held each November and typically cover off-the-field matters (rule changes, etc.), but there's usually one or two deals struck that week. The annual owners meetings cover business matters.

Here are the offseason dates you need to know. Free agency is set to open this coming Sunday.