This past week MLB and the MLBPA agreed to a new collective bargaining agreement, which will keep baseball up and running through 2021. Free agent compensation rules remain unchanged this offseason. The new draft pick rules do not take effect until next offseason.

Now that the CBA is complete, the annual Winter Meetings will take place as scheduled this coming week. There had been rumblings MLB teams would skip the Winter Meetings had the two sides not agreed to the new CBA. Thankfully it won't come to that.

Here are the 2016 Winter Meetings details:

Where: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland
When: December 4-8

The Winter Meetings technically begin Sunday, but things usually don't start happening until Monday. MLB Network provides non-stop television coverage, and, of course, we here at will provide around-the-clock analysis.

Here's a primer on the Winter Meetings:

What events take place at the Winter Meetings?

The Winter Meetings are actually a Minor League Baseball event. Major league teams just tag along. Minor-league clubs get together to network, attend workshops, seek out potential employees, discuss industry trends, and handle business matters.

Here are the main events:

  • PBEO Job Fair: The PBEO Job Fair is an opportunity for job seekers to meet with team representatives and even interview. Here's the agenda and registration info. The vast majority of the available positions are entry level with minor league teams, but hey, it's a way to get your foot in the door.
  • Baseball Trade Show: The trade show is a blast. Vendors from around the country show off their products. There's everything from equipment to concessions to bobbleheads. Here's the trade show information and here is Matt Snyder's trip through the 2015 trade show.
  • Bob Freitas Business Seminar & Workshop Series: Features guest speakers from both inside and outside baseball, plus informal workshops.
  • Today's Game Era Hall of Fame class announced: Harold Baines, Albert Belle, Will Clark, Orel Hershiser, Davey Johnson, Mark McGwire, Lou Piniella, John Schuerholz, Bud Selig and George Steinbrenner are on the ballot this year.
  • Awards gala: Includes the presentation of Bowie Kuhn Award, various Scout of the Year awards, and the Baseball America Organization of the Year award, among other things.

These are the official items on the Winter Meetings agenda. They're why the Winter Meetings exist in the first place. It's an extremely important week for minor-league baseball.

Rumors! Trades! Signings!

Ben Zobrist signed with the Cubs at the 2015 Winter Meetings. USATSI

Of course, almost all baseball fans associate the Winter Meetings with the hot stove season, and for good reason. All 30 front offices -- it's not just the general manager or president of the baseball operations; they have their assistants there, as well as trusted scouts and statistical analysis folks -- are in one place, and deals are inevitable. It's a chance to meet face-to-face and negotiate.

Historically, the Winter Meetings are the four busiest days of the offseason. There are non-stop rumors in the Twitter era, so much so that it's tough to separate the legitimate rumors from the noise. Teams and agents both use the media to push their agenda. No doubt about it. Inevitably, trades and free agent signings take place. Lots of them. Several a day. It's a lot of fun.

Also, all 30 MLB managers meet with the media during the Winter Meetings to give a "state of the team" press conference. It's usually the first time they're asked about the new player their team just signed, things like that.

The Rule 5 Draft

The annual Rule 5 Draft takes place on the final day of the Winter Meetings. It serves as the unofficial end of the Winter Meetings, really. Once the Rule 5 Draft is over, everyone heads home. Any player selected in the Rule 5 Draft must remain on their new team's active 25-man major league roster for the entire 2017 season, or be placed on waivers and offered back to their former team.

Players on the 40-man roster are not eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft. It's a way to give minor-leaguers blocked in their current organization a chance at the big leagues. Here is this year's pool of eligible players:

  • Players drafted out of high school in 2012 or earlier.
  • Players drafted out of college in 2013 or earlier.
  • Players signed as international free agents in 2012 or earlier.

There are some exceptions based on age, but generally speaking, those are the eligible players. J.J. Cooper of Baseball America put together a list of the best available players, if you're interested. Teams seems to be getting better and better at finding quality players in the Rule 5 Draft these days. Joe Biagini, Odubel Herrera, and Hector Rondon are among the recent Rule 5 Draft success stories.

Can fans attend the Winter Meetings?

A scene from the 2015 Winter Meetings. Can you spot the Hall of Famer? USATSI

Officially, the Winter Meetings are closed to the public. You can't just walk in and attend the trade show or workshops, for example. Those are for teams.

You are, however, free to roam the hallways of the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center and watch everything that goes on, which I assure you is not nearly exciting as it sounds. You'll see some famous faces walk by -- mostly team executives, but some players also stop by as well -- but you won't see, say, Nationals GM Mike Rizzo and White Sox GM Rick Hahn sitting in the lobby hammering out a Chris Sale trade. That happens behind closed doors, in the team suites.

If you're an ambitious job-seeker looking to hand out some resumes at the Winter Meetings, by all means, go for it. I wish you luck. If you're just a fan just wanting to stake out the lobby and hallways, it's probably not worth the trip, especially if you're not close by.

Speaking from experience, being on-site at the Winter Meetings is not as riveting as it may seem. You can follow all the rumors and deals just as well from home.