Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
The Official Site of the Milwaukee Brewers
news

Brewers News

Brewers, Nelson agree to terms, avoid arbitration

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- The Brewers scratched an item off their winter to-do list Wednesday by signing right-hander Jimmy Nelson to a $3.7 million contract, avoiding arbitration with a pitcher who missed all of last season while rehabbing from right shoulder surgery.

Nelson's salary is the same as last year, which is standard for an arbitration-eligible player coming back from a missed season. But beyond the standard incentive package, a source confirmed that the Brewers agreed to include a $50,000 bonus should Nelson win the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

LAS VEGAS -- The Brewers scratched an item off their winter to-do list Wednesday by signing right-hander Jimmy Nelson to a $3.7 million contract, avoiding arbitration with a pitcher who missed all of last season while rehabbing from right shoulder surgery.

Nelson's salary is the same as last year, which is standard for an arbitration-eligible player coming back from a missed season. But beyond the standard incentive package, a source confirmed that the Brewers agreed to include a $50,000 bonus should Nelson win the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award.

Two weeks ago, Nelson told MLB Network that he was in the midst of a standard offseason and eager to report to Maryvale Baseball Park -- the Spring Training home of the Brewers -- as a full participant. Last year at this time, he was still in the very early stages of recovering from his September 2017 shoulder surgery.

"So far, so good. Just knocking off some rust," Nelson said. "I'm excited to get back to throwing and kind of go into Spring Training with some sense of normalcy."

Nelson willl be part of a deep group of starting pitchers in camp, with Jhoulys Chacin, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies, Brandon Woodruff, Corbin Burnes, Freddy Peralta, Junior Guerra, Adrian Houser and more vying for innings.

With Nelson's salary set, six Brewers players remain eligible for arbitration: catcher Manny Pina, outfielder Domingo Santana, infielder Travis Shaw and right-handers Guerra, Davies and Corey Knebel.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Jimmy Nelson

Brewers could eye upgrade with catcher Ramos

Milwaukee had 'very good' meeting with free-agent backstop
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- Second base is the most obvious need, but it's not the only position at which the Brewers are exploring potential upgrades this week.

Brewers officials had what a baseball source characterized as a "very good" meeting on Monday with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who is on hand with his representatives at the Winter Meetings to meet with teams. Per his policy of not discussing specific trade or free-agent targets, Brewers GM David Stearns declined to talk about the meeting on Tuesday evening, or even confirm it happened. But Stearns did reveal that he's met with multiple free agents at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino this week.

LAS VEGAS -- Second base is the most obvious need, but it's not the only position at which the Brewers are exploring potential upgrades this week.

Brewers officials had what a baseball source characterized as a "very good" meeting on Monday with free-agent catcher Wilson Ramos, who is on hand with his representatives at the Winter Meetings to meet with teams. Per his policy of not discussing specific trade or free-agent targets, Brewers GM David Stearns declined to talk about the meeting on Tuesday evening, or even confirm it happened. But Stearns did reveal that he's met with multiple free agents at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino this week.

Ramos, 31, an All-Star last season during a year split between the Rays and Phillies, carries injury risk but would represent an upgrade over Milwaukee's in-house trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and 23-year-old prospect Jacob Nottingham.

Ramos slashed .306/.358/.487 with 15 home runs in 382 at-bats in 2018, while Brewers catchers combined to slash .237/.294/.363 for a .657 OPS that tied for 11th of 15 National League teams.

The Mets also reportedly have met with Ramos, whose other suitors include the A's and Twins. But Ramos' camp is said to have sensed "serious interest" from the Brewers, in spite of Milwaukee's current payroll constraints.

Video: Stearns explains Brewers' Winter Meetings strategy

Stearns has acknowledged that the budget, by virtue of significant salaries for Ryan Braun, Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich next season and rising salaries for a large group of arbitration players led by first-time eligible Travis Shaw, is tighter than in the GM's first three offseasons with the club. But Stearns emphasized that owner Mark Attanasio has always been open to stretching the budget when the baseball-operations team believes in an opportunity, and Attanasio continues to encourage spending "when we see value."

The Brewers' current catching corps is already under control for 2019. Kratz signed for $1.2 million to avoid arbitration, and the Brewers tendered Pina a contract to take him into arbitration as a first-time eligible.

Asked about what he prioritizes in a catcher, Brewers manager Craig Counsell said, "I think different guys bring different things. … We've got two guys that I think are very sound defensively. I think obviously offensively, it's a position that they hit as [frequently] as Christian Yelich hits, so offensively they have an important job as well, so you need some offense from that position as well. They have a large job, and there's many ways to be good at it."

Video: Counsell reflects on 2018 run, excited for 2019

Whether it's Ramos or other free agents of interest to the Brewers, Stearns and Counsell said they both sense players view Milwaukee differently in light of the team's 2018 success.

"We used to have a hard time getting on the radar of some players," Counsell said. "Now we're on the radar of every player."

One milepost in the transition from rebuilding team to free-agent destination came in January, when Cain signed a five-year, $80 million contract. Even if the Brewers don't have the flexibility this winter to pursue the top if the market, they are at least on the radar of the next tier of players.

"I think over the last two years, I've certainly felt a change in our desirability compared to the first year or two," Stearns said. "Lorenzo Cain wanted to come here last year. I think that was a good example of it. And this year, we have a number of players who have directed their representatives to reach out directly to us to see if there is a fit."

Is there an advantage to meeting a free agent face to face?

"I think any time we have an opportunity to get in front of a player and the player has the opportunity to get in front of us … we're able to explain the attributes we think the organization has and we get to understand the player a little bit, as well," Stearns said. "Sometimes a player has very specific fits. Sometimes it's helpful to hear about that directly from the player to determine whether there's a match there or not."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Erik Kratz, Wilson Ramos

Everything you need for Thursday's Rule 5 Draft

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

LAS VEGAS -- Every year, the Winter Meetings unofficially conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. It might not be the headline-grabber of a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing, but every year, teams do find talent via this avenue. And recent history shows that many of the players selected are coming to a big league stadium near you next season.

This year's Rule 5 Draft takes place in Las Vegas on Thursday at noon ET, with a live audio stream on MLB.com. By virtue of finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2018, the Orioles get the first pick, followed by the Royals and White Sox.

LAS VEGAS -- Every year, the Winter Meetings unofficially conclude with the Rule 5 Draft. It might not be the headline-grabber of a blockbuster trade or free-agent signing, but every year, teams do find talent via this avenue. And recent history shows that many of the players selected are coming to a big league stadium near you next season.

This year's Rule 5 Draft takes place in Las Vegas on Thursday at noon ET, with a live audio stream on MLB.com. By virtue of finishing with the worst record in baseball in 2018, the Orioles get the first pick, followed by the Royals and White Sox.

:: 2018 Rule 5 Draft coverage ::

There are hundreds of eligible players, and teams are going through those lists and scouring past reports, as well as any from the Arizona Fall League or winter ball, to help determine whether they want to make any selections.

The Draft order
Below is this year's Rule 5 Draft order, based on the reverse order of the 2018 regular-season standings. A team must have room on its 40-man roster to make a pick, so each team's 40-man status is noted in parentheses.

2018 Rule 5 Draft order

Names to watch
As the Draft approached, several names were being mentioned as potential picks in the Major League phase. A's shortstop Richie Martin and Twins lefty Tyler Jay, two first round picks in the 2015 Draft, have come up often in conversations, though not necessarily in the Orioles' top spot.

How it works
Players first signed at age 18 must be added to 40-man rosters within five seasons or they become eligible to be drafted by other organizations through the Rule 5 Draft process. Players signed at age 19 or older have to be protected within four seasons. Clubs pay $100,000 to select a player in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft. If that player doesn't stay on the 25-man roster for the full season, he must be offered back to his former team for $50,000.

For this year, that means an international or high school Draft pick signed in 2014 -- assuming he was 18 or younger as of June 5 of that year -- has to be protected. A college player taken in the '15 Draft is in the same position.

The success rate of the Major League phase has gone up over the past four years. In that period, 42 of the 66 players taken in this phase have seen big league time with the team that acquired them. Some have attributed this to the rise of advanced analytics, which allow teams to know more about players who previously seemed more like needles in a haystack.

There is also a Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft, with the costs rising from $12,000 to $24,000 for a Triple-A pick (anyone not protected on a big league or Triple-A roster is eligible). The Double-A phase has been eliminated. Players selected in this portion of the Rule 5 Draft aren't subject to any roster restrictions with their new organizations.

Recent gems
There were 18 players taken in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft last year, and 11 of them saw time in the big leagues with the team that drafted them or traded for them immediately following the draft. Another three players made it to MLB after they were sent back to their original team. In 2016, 18 players were taken, and 10 spent time in the big leagues.

Of last year's group, Brad Keller had the most success with the Royals, finishing with a Wins Above Replacement of 3.6, the only positive tally in that statistical category among the 11 who played in the big leagues in 2018. It's one of the best rookie seasons for a Rule 5 pick in recent memory. It's right up there with Odubel Herrera's rookie campaign with the Phillies in '15. The outfielder compiled a 4.0 WAR that year, made the All-Star team in '16 and signed a five-year, $30.5 million extension with the Phillies almost two years to the day after being taken in the Rule 5 Draft. He's been a big league regular for four seasons now.

Other recent success stories include reliever Joe Biagini, who landed on the Blue Jays' postseason roster in 2016 after a solid first year in the big leagues, and Matt Bowman, who had a strong '16 campaign after his Rule 5 Draft selection in '15.

All-time best picks
The way the Rule 5 Draft works has changed over time. So while everyone's all-time list would undeniably start with Roberto Clemente, it's almost as if a "modern era" type qualifier is needed. Looking at 1990 through last year, here's how Rule 5 Draft picks line up in a top five, ranked by career WAR.

1. Johan Santana, LHP, 50.7
2. Shane Victorino, OF, 31.2
3. Josh Hamilton, OF, 28.1
4. Dan Uggla, 2B, 17.5
5. Joakim Soria, RHP, 17.5

Keep an eye on Herrera, though. He's at 10.7 WAR already after four years. And Keller's rookie WAR was better than anyone on this list.

Top available prospects
There are 78 players on teams' Top 30 Prospects lists who were not protected and are thus eligible to be selected and given the chance to stick on a 25-man roster. There are nine first-round picks from the 2014 and '15 Drafts available this year, led by '14 No. 2 overall pick Tyler Kolek, the Marlins right-hander who returned from Tommy John surgery at the end of '18. Jay, who was taken No. 6 overall by the Twins out of the University of Illinois, is the highest-drafted player from '15 who is available to teams on Thursday.

30 intriguing Rule 5 prospects

Here's a list of all 30 teams' Top 30 Prospects who are eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 Draft:

Arizona Diamondbacks
7. Marcus Wilson, OF
23. Alex Young, LHP
24. Cody Reed, LHP

Atlanta Braves
22. Travis Demeritte, OF
28. Josh Graham, RHP

Baltimore Orioles
29. Luis Gonzalez, LHP

Boston Red Sox
10. Josh Ockimey, 1B
21. Jhonathan Diaz, LHP
23. Roldani Baldwin, C
27. Roniel Raudes, RHP

Chicago Cubs
17. Trevor Clifton, RHP
20. Jhonny Pereda, C
26. Erling Moreno, RHP

Chicago White Sox
26. Spencer Adams, RHP

Cincinnati Reds 
22. Michael Beltre, OF

Cleveland Indians 
20. Oscar Gonzalez, OF

Colorado Rockies
19. Breiling Eusebio, LHP
23. Roberto Ramos, 1B
25. Brian Mundell, 1B
27. Dom Nunez, C

Detroit Tigers
19. Jose Azocar, OF
24. Tyler Alexander, LHP
29. Derek Hill, OF

Houston Astros
17. Riley Ferrell, RHP
24. Jonathan Arauz, SS

Kansas City Royals
23. Elvis Luciano, RHP
28. D.J. Burt, SS
29. Foster Griffin, LHP
30. Ofreidy Gomez, RHP

Los Angeles Angels
15. Leonardo Rivas, SS
18. Luis Pena, RHP
28. Joe Gatto, RHP

Los Angeles Dodgers
19. Drew Jackson, SS
24. Cristian Santana, SS
29. Andrew Sopko, RHP

Miami Marlins
18. Christopher Torres, SS
26. Brayan Hernandez, CF
30. McKenzie Mills, LHP

Milwaukee Brewers
10. Jake Gatewood, 1B
17. Cody Ponce, RHP
28. Carlos Herrera, RHP

Minnesota Twins
16. Lewin Diaz, RF
22. Tyler Jay, LHP

New York Mets
19. Luis Carpio, SS
21. David Thompson, 3B
25. Ali Sanchez, C
27. Patrick Mazeika, C

New York Yankees
27. Dermis Garcia, 1B/3B

Oakland A's
12. Richie Martin, SS
27. James Naile, RHP

Philadelphia Phillies
12. Daniel Brito, SS
16. Jose Gomez, SS
27. Tom Eshelman, RHP

Pittsburgh Pirates
19. Gage Hinsz, RHP
24. Brandon Waddell, LHP
28. Domingo Robles, LHP

San Diego Padres
None

San Francisco Giants
8. Sandro Fabian, OF
18. Juan De Paula, RHP
23. Jordan Johnson, RHP

Seattle Mariners
17. Art Warren, RHP
21. Rob Whalen, RHP
23. Ian Miller, OF
26. Anthony Jimenez, OF
27. Luis Liberato, OF
29. Ronald Rosario, OF
30. Anthony Misiewicz, LHP

St. Louis Cardinals
11. Max Schrock, 2B
14. Junior Fernandez, RHP
23. Wadye Ynfante, OF

Tampa Bay Rays
None

Texas Rangers
17. Pedro Gonzalez, OF
30. Edgar Arredondo, RHP

Toronto Blue Jays
25. Forrest Wall, OF
28. Jordan Romano, RHP

Washington Nationals
13. Telmito Agustin, OF
24. Tomas Alastre, RHP
25. Jose Marmolejos, 1B/OF
29. Drew Ward, 3B/1B

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

MVP meetup among Crew's auction items

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- Meet the MVP or grill the manager? These Brewers experiences are among dozens of unique items up for bid in Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings charity auction.

This year's auction will support the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Museum, two important institutions that educate future generations of young people through honoring significant moments and individuals of baseball's past.

LAS VEGAS -- Meet the MVP or grill the manager? These Brewers experiences are among dozens of unique items up for bid in Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings charity auction.

This year's auction will support the Jackie Robinson Foundation and the Negro Leagues Museum, two important institutions that educate future generations of young people through honoring significant moments and individuals of baseball's past.

Bid now in Brewers charity auction

For "Meet the MVP," the winning bidder and a guest will meet National League Most Valuable Player Award winner Christian Yelich and watch batting practice from the field prior to a mutually agreed upon 2019 home game. The winner will also take photos on the field with Yelich and receive an autographed baseball and bat from him. Two tickets for that night's game are included.

"Media Member for a Day" offers similarly unique access. The winning bidder and a guest will sit in on manager Craig Counsell's pregame media availability in the dugout and postgame media availability in the interview room, watch batting practice from the field, have dinner in the media dining room and meet the team's broadcasters, and they will also sit in the press box for the game with their own official Brewers media credential. As a bonus, the winner gets an autographed baseball from Hall of Fame broadcaster Bob Uecker.

The auction is live on MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction through Thursday, when it will conclude at 9 p.m. CT. Items include special baseball experiences, including meetings with some of the game's biggest stars, along with unique items donated by MLB and the 30 clubs.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

5 takeaways from Counsell's Meetings Q&A

Brewers manager lobbies against regulating the shift, talks 2019
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- Let's just say Brewers manager Craig Counsell is not among the proponents of limiting or outright banning the shift.

Counsell, whose club has shifted more often than any other National League team in each of the past three seasons, mounted a spirited defense of the practice on Tuesday during his annual question-and-answer Winter Meetings media session. Here are five takeaways from that talk:

LAS VEGAS -- Let's just say Brewers manager Craig Counsell is not among the proponents of limiting or outright banning the shift.

Counsell, whose club has shifted more often than any other National League team in each of the past three seasons, mounted a spirited defense of the practice on Tuesday during his annual question-and-answer Winter Meetings media session. Here are five takeaways from that talk:

1. Let them shift
According to recent reports, Major League Baseball is considering action to limit or eliminate extreme defensive shifts in an effort to encourage more action and speed the pace of game. Before a questioner could complete his sentence, Counsell said he simply doesn't see it happening.

"You can say I was wrong, I just can't see it happening," Counsell said. "I'll just say, I don't see the sense in banning the shift at all. I don't see how it improves the game. I think it's a strategic part of the game that is one of the things that makes our game fun. Let's find strategies to win baseball games. That's why we love the game, because we spend hours [dissecting it]. That's why you guys have jobs, because we talk about strategy all the time.

"So if you want to eliminate all the strategies, I don't know, you guys better think about that."

Was he suggesting that baseball writers should update their resumes?

"That's what I'm saying," Counsell answered with a laugh. "The beauty of the game is all the strategies that we can employ and players can employ. I do think we can make a concerted effort on the downtime in the game. I would love for us to try to attack the dead time in games. But attacking strategies to win baseball games, man, I just don't see that as improving the game."

Video: Counsell reflects on 2018 run, excited for 2019

2. Losing hurt
In a national radio interview recently, Counsell said the initial disappointment of losing Game 7 of the National League Championship Series morphed into anger. He was asked what he meant by that.

"I think there's initial -- look, we had a lot of fun in the month of October," Counsell said. "And you do like to reflect on that. But then when there's a little space that you realize how close you were, how difficult it is to get there, how difficult it was to get to that game, how much work it's going to take to get back to that situation ... there's always a little bit of you that feels like, 'Man, we've got a lot of work to do to get to that point again.' And it is. It's disappointment. It's ultimately what drives you. But it makes you a little bit mad. That's how it made me feel. It really did. I was a little mad. Probably once the World Series started I was a little bit angry, that's the truth."

That feeling abated after the conclusion of the World Series. In November, Counsell got away from baseball for a bit during a family safari in South Africa. He raved about the experience.

3. Losing Johnson hurt, too
Counsell acknowledged that pitching coach Derek Johnson's departure to the rival Reds was a negative, even though the Brewers have confidence in highly regarded Chris Hook after promoting Hook from a position in the Minor League system.

"I think for the pitching program that we had, I think we were getting to a point where we felt like we were pretty locked into some really positive things. Now our challenge is to build on them," Counsell said. "But at the same time, we're going to have to start over a little bit with Chris. And so the challenge will be just for him to get up to speed as fast as we can.

"Now, the positive is that Chris has worked with and has developed a fair number of our pitchers already. So he comes in with a really advanced start from that perspective. And so that's why I feel that we can make a very quick transition and get up to speed quickly. It's going to be a challenge for Chris. But we think he's really prepared for it."

Video: Hader wins 2018 NL Reliever of the Year

4. The bullpen is on his mind
The strength of the 2018 Brewers was their dynamite bullpen, anchored down the stretch by hard-worked Corey Knebel, Jeremy Jeffress and Josh Hader. Counsell, his coaching staff and the front office have been thinking about ways to ensure they are just as good in 2019.

"Look, it's a question that we haven't answered [as an industry], the volatility," Counsell said. "The sample [for relief pitchers] is not that big, and so sometimes luck can play a little bit of a part of results. The luck shows up more for a reliever because there's less innings, it doesn't even out as much some years. I think their health is something that we're trying to do a better job at understanding and what does that lead to performance."

Counsell said club officials encouraged relievers to get their usual rest before beginning offseason workouts, even though the season ended several weeks later than before. If that means some of those established relievers report to Spring Training slightly behind, so be it. They do not need as much time to prepare for competition than their starting rotation counterparts. "I think it's just going to be really important for us to be kind of cautious at the start, and make sure we know exactly where the guys are as they come in to spring," Counsell said.

5. Patience is a virtue
Counsell said he's not surprised that the Brewers haven't made a Major League acquisition this offseason.

"No. I really am not," he said. "I think it has to happen at the appropriate time and deals come together when deals come together. And so I don't think -- you just don't look for a name to make a transaction. Our best deals came together in January of last year. They could come together in February this year. So there's no timetable put on them. We don't have a game until … late March. So we'll have enough players by then."

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Brewers taking it slower at these Meetings

Stearns doesn't foresee quite as many discussions as in years past
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

LAS VEGAS -- Perhaps we didn't listen closely enough, but David Stearns said it before the grounds crew had time to put away the postseason bunting at Miller Park. It would be a "different" kind of offseason for the Brewers, the general manager said, meaning a much quieter one compared to his frenetic overhaul of the roster in his first months on the job, or his double-barrel blockbuster that brought Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to Milwaukee last winter.

Now, with the Winter Meetings upon us and four non-roster invitees representing the extent of Milwaukee's offseason acquisitions, that premonition is reality. The Brewers are not completely idle, but with 12 of their 14 most valuable players by wins above replacement returning next year, only one big hole on the roster (second base) and significantly less payroll flexibility than Stearns' other offseasons, it is fair to say that they are on the low end of teams' aggressiveness at the moment.

LAS VEGAS -- Perhaps we didn't listen closely enough, but David Stearns said it before the grounds crew had time to put away the postseason bunting at Miller Park. It would be a "different" kind of offseason for the Brewers, the general manager said, meaning a much quieter one compared to his frenetic overhaul of the roster in his first months on the job, or his double-barrel blockbuster that brought Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich to Milwaukee last winter.

Now, with the Winter Meetings upon us and four non-roster invitees representing the extent of Milwaukee's offseason acquisitions, that premonition is reality. The Brewers are not completely idle, but with 12 of their 14 most valuable players by wins above replacement returning next year, only one big hole on the roster (second base) and significantly less payroll flexibility than Stearns' other offseasons, it is fair to say that they are on the low end of teams' aggressiveness at the moment.

"I wouldn't say that anything is particularly imminent for us, but we do understand that things can move quickly at this time of year," Stearns said. "This was a sort of standard 'Day 1 of the Winter Meetings' kind of day. You have a lot of conversations, you have some meetings, and then you try to move things forward over the week the best you can.

"We came into this week understanding that with our approach to this offseason, things could be a little bit different than they have in the past for us. We've been a team that at times has been aggressive at the Winter Meetings, and while I wouldn't say we're not going to make a deal, I don't see us with quite as many discussions progressing to a certain point as maybe we've had in years past."

MVP meetup among Winter Meetings auction items

Other takeaways from Day 1:

• The Brewers are "keeping in touch" with agent Tom O'Connell regarding Wade Miley, their most notable free agent on the pitching front, and are open to bringing Miley back, Stearns said. First, Miley will gauge his value on the open market after bouncing back from early-season injuries to post a 2.57 ERA in 80 2/3 innings and emerge as Milwaukee's second-most valuable starter.

"He deserves to see, and then we'll have a discussion and determine if there's a right fit," Stearns said.

• Second base is the Brewers' clearest need, manager Craig Counsell acknowledged during an appearance on MLB Network. But the team still plans to be patient in that search because it is a buyer's market at that well-stocked position in terms of free agency and trades. Among the free agents who have drawn interest from the Brewers, according to a report from The Athletic, is left-handed-hitting Daniel Murphy.

"My general thought is patience is always a good way to go about things, especially in a setting like the Winter Meetings where impatience can yield some unfortunate results," Stearns said. "So yes, we're going to be patient. Patience doesn't mean that if there's a deal we like, we aren't going to act. But we are in no hurry to force anything."

Video: Counsell on adding infielder before offseason ends

• Two players emerged who will not be the Brewers' Opening Day second baseman: Whit Merrifield, who is likely to remain with the Royals, said Kansas City GM Dayton Moore; and Brewers prospect Mauricio Dubon, who will begin 2019 at Triple-A San Antonio coming off left ACL surgery, said Stearns, who had previously ruled out top prospect Keston Hiura for the big leagues on Opening Day in favor of more Minor League experience.

"Mauricio, we're going to want him to begin the year at Triple-A," Stearns said. "There's not a timeframe for him to stay at Triple-A. We'll let his performance and development dictate that. But coming off a knee injury, we are going to allow him to get his legs back under him."

Asked whether a monster Spring Training could change that plan, Stearns said, "No. That's set."

• While he acknowledged contact with Miley's representative, Stearns again declined to say the same about free-agent third baseman Mike Moustakas, a Scott Boras client. The Brewers plan to move Travis Shaw back to third base, Stearns reiterated Monday. But the team remains open to asking Shaw to return to second base in the event Moustakas or another third baseman becomes available.

• The Brewers have "an extensive history" in terms of scouting Japanese free-agent left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, Stearns said, without revealing whether the Brewers would make a bid for the Boras client.

"Clearly he's had a very impressive career in Japan," Stearns said. "He's being posted at a relatively young age. Generally those types of players command a large amount of money and can pretty much dictate where they want to go based on not only finances but market, proximity to home, community and those types of things."

Video: Possible landing spots for Yusei Kikuchi

• MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi included the Brewers among three potential landing spots for Indians ace Corey Kluber if he's traded. The Indians are believed to covet a young stud outfielder in a deal, and the Milwaukee has one in No. 2 prospect and 2018 Brewers Minor League Player of the Year Corey Ray. The Indians' suite happens to be just down the hall from the Brewers'.

"I enjoy seeing those guys every year. I worked with a lot of them," said a similing Stearns, who once worked in Cleveland's front office.

Deolis Guerra, who signed a non-roster deal with the Brewers a few days ago, will get a legitimate shot to win a bullpen spot. Guerra was in the big leagues with the Pirates and Angels from 2015-17.

• New hitting coach Andy Haines is on hand for the Winter Meetings, an opportunity to get to better know not only Stearns and Counsell, but the rest of the Brewers' front office, including scouts and members of the research and development groups.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Hiura makes AFL's Top Prospects team

MLB.com @wboor

Braxton Davidson's dramatic walk-off homer in the 10th inning back on Nov. 17th lifted the Peoria Javelinas to back-to-back Arizona Fall League titles and signified the end of the AFL season.

However, here at MLB Pipeline, coverage of the AFL is constant. Following the on-the-field play, we have released our top 10 breakout prospects, the top 25 prospects of the AFL and our All-Arizona Fall League Team.

Braxton Davidson's dramatic walk-off homer in the 10th inning back on Nov. 17th lifted the Peoria Javelinas to back-to-back Arizona Fall League titles and signified the end of the AFL season.

However, here at MLB Pipeline, coverage of the AFL is constant. Following the on-the-field play, we have released our top 10 breakout prospects, the top 25 prospects of the AFL and our All-Arizona Fall League Team.

Of course, there's always room for more accolades and that's just what we have below as the Arizona Fall League announced its 2018 Top Prospects team on Monday morning.

The team, selected by league managers and coaches, recognizes players who distinguished themselves against other top prospects throughout the AFL. Voters were asked to consider not only a player's AFL performance, but also their Major League projectability.

Catchers

Daulton Varsho, D-backs No. 5 prospect: Varsho, who put together four multihit efforts over a five-game span, hit .262 and drove in nine runs in 18 games.

Keibert Ruiz, Dodgers No. 2 prospect (No. 39 on Top 100): Ruiz played in just 13 games, but left a strong impression on the league's managers and coaches. The 20-year-old hit .286 with six RBIs and also drew six walks while striking out just twice.

Video: Top Prospects: Keibert Ruiz, C, Dodgers

First Base

Tyler Nevin, Rockies No. 11 prospect: Nevin hit a career-best .328 over 100 games during the regular season and carried that momentum with him into Arizona. Nevin got off to a fast start in the AFL, opening play with a 10-game hitting streak. From there, it was more of the same. The 21-year-old was the AFL's only .400 hitter and ran away with the batting title, slashing .426/.535/.593 and also finished third in the league with 20 RBIs.

Video: SRR@PEJ: Nevin recovers nicely to end the 3rd

Evan White, Mariners No. 5 prospectWhite, who collected 14 RBIs over 18 games, hit .257 with a pair of homers in the AFL. White put together a nine-game hitting streak from late October to early November and also stole two bases after stealing just four during the regular season.

Second Base:

Keston Hiura, Brewers No. 1 prospect (No. 30 on the Top 100): Hiura's ability to hit was no secret -- something his 70-grade hit tool clearly indicated. However, just because it was known that Hiura can hit doesn't mean that watching him do so was any less impressive. The Brewers top prospect went to Arizona to work on his defense and while he made strides in that department, it was his offense that led to him MVP honors. Hiura, who hit .323, led the league in hits (31), RBIs (33) and total bases (54). He also hit the only grand slam of the AFL, put together 11 multihit games and turned in two five-RBI performances.

Jahmai Jones, Angels No. 4 prospect: Jones, coming off a season during which he hit just .239 over 123 games, hit .321 with two homers and 11 RBI in 19 AFL contests.

Third Base:

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays No. 1 prospect (No. 1 on Top 100): Guerrero entered the AFL as the most talked-about prospect and certainly didn't disappoint. Guerrero picked up a trio of hits on Opening Day and kept the hits coming as he began the season with a 13-game hitting streak. The 19-year-old also impressed on the league's biggest stage, hitting a 117 mph double in the Fall Stars Game and concluded his stint in Arizona with a .351 batting average.

Video: Chisholm on Vlad Jr.'s Fall League performance

Yu Chang, Indians No. 6 prospect: Chang, who also played in the 2017 Fall League, put together a strong offensive showing. The shortstop hit .337, thanks in large part to a stretch where he strung together eight multihit efforts over 12 games. Chang also finished tied for third in total bases (45) and fourth in hits (29).

Shortstops:

Cole Tucker, Pirates No. 5 prospect: Tucker's .370 average certainly jumps off the page, but the 22-year-old impressed defensively as well. Tucker's 11 multihit games tied for the league lead (Hiura) and his 30 hits left him tied for second. Tucker also impressed off the field, reguarily staying after the game to take photos and sign autographs and was honored with the league's sportsmanship award.

Video: Cole Tucker talks about his Fall League experience

 Lucius Fox, Rays No. 9 prospect: Fox, who hit .326 over 21 games, put together an eight-game hitting streak in mid-October and tied for second in the league with 10 multihit games. Fox also drew 16 walks and stole seven bases.

Outfielders:

Luis Robert, White Sox No. 4 prospect (No. 44 on Top 100): Robert missed a little bit of time with a minor injury during the AFL, but still hit .324 over 18 games. The winner of the week five Player of the Week Award, Robert put up a 14-game hitting streak from Oc. 9 to Nov. 9. The hitting streak was the longest in the AFL since 2014.

Cristian Pache, Braves No. 6 prospect (No. 68 on the Top 100): Pache hit .279 and turned in four straight multihit games in late October, but the 20-year-old may have been even more impressive defensively. Pache showed off his 60-grade arm and his 70-grade speed on numerous occasions in the outfield and also used that speed to steal three bases.

Ryan McKenna, Orioles No. 12 prospect: McKenna hit .315/.410/.457 over 127 games during the regular season, his best season since the Orioles picked him in the fourth-round of the 2015 Draft, and continued the breakout campaign in Arizona, where he hit .344/.474/.590.

Sam Hilliard, Rockies No. 9 prospectHilliard played in just 16 games, but the small sample size didn't keep him from producing. Hilliard had multiple hits in nearly half (seven) of the games he played and finished with two homers and a .328 average.

Daz Cameron, Tigers No. 8 prospectCameron stole 24 bases in the regular season and then swiped nine bases, which tied him for fourth, during the AFL. The son of former Major Leaguer Mike Cameron hit .342 over 20 games.

Nick Heath, Royals: Heath posted a .427 on-base percentage and once he got on base, he made the most of the opportunities. The Royals prospect led the AFL in stolen bases (13) and runs scored (21), while batting .338 over 21 games.

Designated Hitters:

Peter Alonso, Mets No. 2 prospect (No. 58 on the Top 100): Alonso tied for the Minor League home run lead with 36 during the regular season and then tied for the AFL lead with six. In addition to his six homers, Alonso also hit seven doubles and often showed off his power with eye-popping exit velocities.

Video: EAST@WEST: Alonso lays out for impressive diving stop

Will Craig, Pirates No. 16 prospectCraig tied with Alonso and Davidson for the home run title, while also hitting .304 over 21 games.

Starting Pitchers

Nate Pearson, Blue Jays No. 4 prospect (No. 90 on the Top 100): Pearson racked up 23 strikeouts in 20 1/3 innings and although his ERA sat at 6.20, he did spin three scoreless outings. What's more, Pearson garnered plenty of attention during the Fall Stars Game when his fastball was clocked at 104 mph.

Video: EAST@WEST: Pearson flashes 101 mph+ with regularity

Erick Leal, Cubs: Leal nearly finished the AFL with a perfect 0.00 ERA, but gave up seven runs (six earned) in his final start. The right-hander began the AFL with a 19 1/3-inning scoreless streak and finished 2-1 with a 2.66 ERA over six starts.

Relief Pitchers:

Melvin Adon, Giants No. 19 prospect: Adon, a hard-throwing right-hander, was consistently missing bats out in Arizona. Adon notched 21 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings and limited opponents to a .163 batting average against. He was particuarily tough on right-handers as they managed to hit just .091 against him.

Justin Lawrence, Rockies No. 16 prospect: Lawrence tied for the AFL lead with three saves and used a nasty fastball-slider combo to strike out 13 batters in 10 2/3 innings.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.

Every team's current franchise icon

MLB.com @williamfleitch

In this thrilling Hot Stove season, let's remember to spare some sympathy for the D-backs. Their trade of Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals was a good one, a smart, prudent move for a franchise in transition, one that brought back an impressive haul considering Goldschmidt has only one year left on his contract.

But that doesn't make all those fans who bought Goldschmidt jerseys over the last half-decade feel that much better. He is, after all, their guy, a franchise icon who has been the face of the organization since breaking into the league in 2011. The future may be bright in Arizona … but it's tough to say goodbye to your hero.

In this thrilling Hot Stove season, let's remember to spare some sympathy for the D-backs. Their trade of Paul Goldschmidt to the Cardinals was a good one, a smart, prudent move for a franchise in transition, one that brought back an impressive haul considering Goldschmidt has only one year left on his contract.

But that doesn't make all those fans who bought Goldschmidt jerseys over the last half-decade feel that much better. He is, after all, their guy, a franchise icon who has been the face of the organization since breaking into the league in 2011. The future may be bright in Arizona … but it's tough to say goodbye to your hero.

Video: Paul Goldschmidt gets formally introduced

Thus, today, we look at the franchise icons for each team -- the guy who, if he were traded, would break the hearts of the local fans. Some of them, to be fair, stretch the definition of "icon"; you'll notice that more frequently with clubs that are in the midst of a rebuild. And while few of these players are likely to be going anywhere anytime soon, and some guys might seem "untradeable," consider that if Paul Goldschmidt -- probably the best position player in D-backs history -- can be traded, well, then nearly anyone can.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Russell Martin, C
The Blue Jays have moved on from the obvious names here -- your Jose Bautista, your Edwin Encarnacion, your Josh Donaldson -- but Martin is still around from those winning teams … and he is Canadian, after all.

Orioles: Mark Trumbo, DH
No tougher team in baseball to find a current franchise icon for than the Orioles (particularly with Adam Jones being a free agent and thus not eligible). The hope is that in a decade, they have several.

Rays: Blake Snell, LHP
Rays fans have gotten used to having to say goodbye to their icons in recent years. Perhaps the current AL Cy Young Award winner will stick around for a while.

Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia, 2B
Even with Mookie Betts as the MVP … Pedroia is Red Sox for life.

Yankees: Aaron Judge, RF
Already, two years in, Judge is one of the most popular Yankees of the last 30 years.

Video: Must C Crushed: Judge rips 2-run HR in Wild Card Game

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
Lindor is the centerpiece of everything this franchise is about.

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
Perez will still be here when the next Royals team contends ... whenever that is.

Tigers: Miguel Cabrera, 1B
Miggy will go into the Hall of Fame as a Tiger, though he still has plenty of years in Detroit left to come.

Video: DET@BAL: Cabrera belts 3-run homer to deep right

Twins: Jose Berrios, RHP
Finding the next icon after Joe Mauer may take a while, but the young right-hander is off to a promising start.

White Sox: Jose Abreu, 1B
A constant at first base for the last five years, Abreu is still a decent bet to be traded this season given that he's eligible for free agency next offseason.

AL WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, CF
Trout has two more years left on his contract, as you might have heard. That's about to become the biggest story in the sport.

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
The Astros have all sorts of roster decisions to make in the next few years, but it is hard to see Altuve going anywhere, especially after the five-year extension he signed before last season.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
Chapman already feels like a player that the A's will want to open their new stadium around (should they get it).

Mariners: Felix Hernandez, RHP
Though it's looking like he'll never get that postseason start, he's still King Felix.

Rangers: Elvis Andrus, SS
Andrus is already No. 11 in lifetime WAR for the Rangers, and he still has four years of contract left to go.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Freddie Freeman, 1B
Freeman was there before the team broke through, and he'll still be the centerpiece now that they have.

Marlins: J.T. Realmuto, C
If Realmuto does get traded, as has been rumored, it's hard to say who would fill this spot. Martin Prado?

Mets: Jacob deGrom, RHP
Even if you see more Thor helmets at Citi Field, reigning NL Cy Young Award winner deGrom is the center of everything with this franchise right now. Imagine how Mets fans would react if he were traded. Heavens.

Video: ATL@NYM: Young fan goes wild cheering for deGrom

Nationals: Max Scherzer, RHP
It wouldn't be shocking if it were Juan Soto in a couple of years … or still Bryce Harper, for that matter (though that's looking less likely).

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
The September Hoskins had in 2017 will keep him beloved in Philadelphia for years to come.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Christian Yelich, OF
Yelich's MVP campaign quickly got him here, though it would be bizarre to ever see Ryan Braun in another uniform.

Cardinals: Yadier Molina, C
Molina says he will retire when his current contract is up.

Tweet from @dgoold: "Three more years, that's it," Yadier Molina says. He's repeating his plan to complete his contract and then retire. #cardinals #stlcards

We'll believe it when we see it.

Cubs: Anthony Rizzo, 1B
Kris Bryant is the MVP … but no one spans this whole era of Cubs baseball like Rizzo does.

Pirates: Starling Marte, OF
Marte got back to his old self last year. Can you believe he's 30 already?

Reds: Joey Votto, 1B
The goal is to get the 35-year-old Votto back into the postseason before it's time to retire.

NL WEST

D-backs: Archie Bradley, RHP
One last cry for Goldschmidt.

Dodgers: Clayton Kershaw, LHP
Will L.A. be able to get Kershaw that World Series title, the only career achievement that continues to elude him?

Video: NLCS Gm7: Kershaw puts finishing touches on pennant

Giants: Buster Posey, C
Madison Bumgarner is obviously right there with him … but it's more inconceivable to imagine them trading Posey than Bumgarner, no?

Padres: Wil Myers, OF
You could argue for Eric Hosmer, but Myers has more of a track record in San Diego.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
Arenado's contract status, and whether the Rockies contend this year, could be the driving storyline of the second half of 2019.

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

How might Crew fill needs at Winter Meetings?

GM Stearns seeks upgrades and depth at second base and rotation
MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- The excitement of October at Miller Park has made way to the quietest start to an offseason in Brewers GM David Stearns' fourth winter at the helm. Will that change when the baseball world converges in Las Vegas for the annual Winter Meetings?

Stearns has been active at the Meetings before, swinging trades that landed Freddy Peralta from the Mariners in Nashville, Tenn. in 2015 and Travis Shaw from the Red Sox in 2016 in Washington D.C. He was not outwardly active last year in Orlando, but one week later the Brewers signed free-agent starter Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year contract that paid big dividends in 2018, as the team played to a Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

MILWAUKEE -- The excitement of October at Miller Park has made way to the quietest start to an offseason in Brewers GM David Stearns' fourth winter at the helm. Will that change when the baseball world converges in Las Vegas for the annual Winter Meetings?

Stearns has been active at the Meetings before, swinging trades that landed Freddy Peralta from the Mariners in Nashville, Tenn. in 2015 and Travis Shaw from the Red Sox in 2016 in Washington D.C. He was not outwardly active last year in Orlando, but one week later the Brewers signed free-agent starter Jhoulys Chacin to a two-year contract that paid big dividends in 2018, as the team played to a Game 7 of the National League Championship Series.

Video: Be proud of what we've accomplished, but stay hungry

Since then, it's been quiet. The Brewers have made only a couple of minor outside moves since the last pitch of their season, most recently on Friday signing veteran catcher Tuffy Gosewisch to a Minor League deal with an invite to big league Spring Training camp.

"Discussions have certainly picked up and I do think there's a fair amount of industry activity that's ongoing," Stearns said at the end of last week. "That's healthy this time of year. That means the industry is talking and there's likely going to be some activity over the next two or three weeks."

When reached again Friday as the Brewers closed the final work week before Las Vegas, Stearns said there were no imminent signings or trades.

"We've talked throughout the early part of this offseason that we do view it as a little bit of a different offseason than what we've had in the past," Stearns said. "We have the ability to be patient and evaluate all markets."

Club needs
The Brewers have one big hole: Second base. That position opened Nov. 30, when the club opted to non-tender Jonathan Schoop rather than pay him a raise in arbitration over the $8.5 million the 27-year-old earned during a 2018 season split between the Orioles and Brewers. Since Stearns said he prefers to move Shaw back to third base, the Brewers are likely to choose from a deep pool of free agents at second base, or make a trade. The organization's other internal options are utility-types Hernan Perez, Tyler Saladino and Nate Orf, or middle-infield prospect Mauricio Dubon, who is coming back from ACL surgery.

• Depth in 2B market gives Brewers options

Video: Brewers' options to replace Schoop at second base

The club's other needs are less acute; Stearns could seek an upgrade over the in-house catching trio of Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and Jacob Nottingham, and like most clubs, the Brewers are likely to add depth to their pitching staff.

"It's probably not going to surprise you that we like our pitching," Stearns said. "We've liked our pitching even when external opinion hasn't. We think we have a number of guys who can continue to take steps forward in their development this year. We return essentially our entire pitching staff -- obviously, losing Wade [Miley] is the one exception there. But we feel like we have numbers. You're always going to look to get better, but I don't view it as a necessity. If we go into the season with this group, I think we'll all be very confident."

Whom might they trade?
Slugging first baseman and outfielder Eric Thames is a trade chip after his early-season thumb injury and Jesus Aguilar's emergence conspired to limit Thames to 16 home runs in 247 at-bats last season, after he hit 31 homers in 469 at-bats the year before. He will earn $6 million in 2019 in the last guaranteed season of his deal, which includes a club option for 2020.

The Brewers could also open payroll space by exploring a trade of starter Chase Anderson, who will earn $6.5 million next season and has club options for 2020 and '21.

And just like last winter, outfielders Domingo Santana or Keon Broxton could be dealt. Both are now out of options, and Santana's value is presumably lower since he is coming off a disappointing season and is now arbitration-eligible for the first time.

Prospects to know
Any significant trade talks over the past year have started with No. 1 Brewers prospect Keston Hiura or No. 2 prospect Corey Ray (Milwaukee's first-round Draft picks in 2017 and '16) or 24-year-old right-hander Corbin Burnes, who was the organization's top pitching prospect before he graduated this past season. Stearns has resisted dealing any of those players, even though it meant letting some opportunities go.

Video: Hiura on takeaways from a great Fall League season

The new top Brewers pitching prospect, Zack Brown, would be tough to trade, but No. 12 Brewers prospect Marcos Diplan could be had in the right deal. Acquired from the Rangers in the Yovani Gallardo trade, Diplan's stuff is better than his results last season after a promotion to Double-A Biloxi.

Rule 5 Draft
The Brewers were down to 36 players on the 40-man roster after a series of non-tenders last week, so the opportunity is there to make a Rule 5 Draft pick. The Brewers made two picks in Stearns' first Winter Meetings at the helm, but neither Colin Walsh nor Zach Jones made it through the season with Milwaukee, and the Brewers have not made a notable selection since.

Payroll summary
As we wrote in a pre-Winter Meetings Inbox this week, the Brewers' payroll picture is a lot different this year than last year at this time, now that Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich are in the fold. The Brewers committed more than $150 million to Cain, Yelich and Chacin in the wake of last year's Winter Meetings, which represented unprecedented spending for the franchise. That includes more than $30 million in 2019 salaries, part of the approximately $73 million already committed to the 11 players with contracts for next season. The seven players still arbitration-eligible could add another $20 million, plus several million more for the pre-arbitration players who will sign in Spring Training.

Add that all up, including expected spending on players with options, injured players and in-season acquisitions, and the Brewers have more than $100 million in payroll commitments, with second base still to settle. Barring some payroll-saving moves, that does not leave Stearns with much wiggle room.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers

Here are Winter Meetings FAQs to know

MLB.com @castrovince

In most industries, meetings are a bore and chore. They consist of PowerPoints, "action items" and "check-ins," and the end result, usually, is just an agreement to "circle back" to everything at yet another meeting at a later date. Meetings are a necessary evil, a means to an end, an annoyance on your Outlook calendar.

But just as the concept of "touching base" takes on a different connotation in the baseball world than the business world, so, too, do meetings themselves. The phrase "Winter Meetings" has a titillating tenor to it. It conjures up images not of action items but actual action. We think of it as the event where the baseball world convenes and big deals get done.

In most industries, meetings are a bore and chore. They consist of PowerPoints, "action items" and "check-ins," and the end result, usually, is just an agreement to "circle back" to everything at yet another meeting at a later date. Meetings are a necessary evil, a means to an end, an annoyance on your Outlook calendar.

But just as the concept of "touching base" takes on a different connotation in the baseball world than the business world, so, too, do meetings themselves. The phrase "Winter Meetings" has a titillating tenor to it. It conjures up images not of action items but actual action. We think of it as the event where the baseball world convenes and big deals get done.

They are, in short, meetings you can actually get excited about.

With the 2018 Winter Meetings about to begin at Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino on Monday, here's a primer on what this annual event is all about.

What is it?
The Winter Meetings are an industry gathering. Representatives from all 30 teams and their various affiliates attend the Winter Meetings. Executives, team staff, media, exhibitors and job seekers converge to network with peers, fill job and internship vacancies, attend workshops, discuss trends and exchange ideas. In some ways, it isn't terribly different from, say, an accountants' conference, because it features a trade show, a job fair, seminars, luncheons, etc.

A key difference is that accountants don't typically gather together in hotel suites and devise ways to trade their clients or sign them to multimillion dollar contracts.

That's why we love the Winter Meetings.

Why does it matter?
Though the ubiquity of texting and e-mailing has altered the dynamics of the Meetings as much as it has altered the fabric of our daily lives, team executives still view the Winter Meetings as a productive place to conduct offseason business.

The convergence of team decision-makers and agents in a single building -- a building many of them will not leave at all for four days -- can accelerate action. It is an efficient environment for deal-making because of the ease of face-to-face dialogue (agents will sometimes fly clients to the Meetings so they can make and listen to pitches in person) and, sometimes, the competitive spirit that kicks in when everybody gets together under one roof.

What happens?
Folks typically arrive on Sunday and depart on Thursday. Team executives usually line up meetings with other clubs and with agents throughout Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. General managers usually have a daily discussion with the local beat reporters to keep them abreast of where things stand, and each Major League manager conducts a press conference where questions about the state of the club are fielded. Reporters mill about the hotel lobby, seeking out team and agent sources, gathering information and, yes, spreading rumors.

When a deal actually gets done, the involved club or clubs hold a press conference in the media work room. If it's a free-agent deal or major trade completed in time for the player to travel to the site, it is not unusual for the player to attend the press conference. That's what happened when the Yankees unveiled Giancarlo Stanton at the 2017 Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., for instance.

What are some notable deals that have gone down there?
In 1975, the always enterprising owner Bill Veeck, having just recently purchased the White Sox, set up a table at the Winter Meetings in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., with a sign that read, "Open for Business." He went on to make six trades involving 22 players that week.

The Winter Meetings aren't always that lively, but plenty of big deals have gone down there over the years. In free agency, Barry Bonds (1992, Giants, $43 million), Kevin Brown ('98, Dodgers, $105 million) and Alex Rodriguez (2000, Rangers, $252 million) all set new records with contracts completed at the Winter Meetings. Brian Cashman's abrupt exit at the Bellagio in Las Vegas in '08 to fly to California to nail down a $161 million deal (at the time, a record for a pitcher) with CC Sabathia was memorable, as was Albert Pujols' mega pact with the Angels that was negotiated at the '11 Winter Meetings and completed just as everybody was packing up.

As far as trades are concerned, the Yankees' 1959 acquisition of Roger Maris, the Orioles' '65 trade for Frank Robinson, the Mets' '84 deal for Gary Carter, the '90 Padres-Blue Jays blockbuster that involved Fred McGriff, Joe Carter, Tony Fernandez and Roberto Alomar, the Tigers' franchise-altering trade for Miguel Cabrera in 2007 and the Red Sox's '16 acquisition of Chris Sale are some of the standout swaps that have taken place at the Winter Meetings.

What else is announced at the Winter Meetings?
On Sunday, a National Baseball Hall of Fame Eras Committee gathers at the Winter Meetings to discuss and vote on that year's ballot, be it the Today's Game (for candidates whose greatest contributions to baseball were realized from 1988 to the present), Golden Days (for candidates whose greatest contributions to baseball were realized from '50-69), or Early Baseball (for candidates whose greatest contributions to baseball were realized prior to '50). Those candidates who appear on 75 percent of ballots cast get inducted into the Hall of Fame the following summer, alongside the Baseball Writers' Association of America selections.

On Sunday, the Today's Game Era Committee elected Lee Smith and Harold Baines to the Hall of Fame.

What is the Rule 5 Draft?
The Rule 5 Draft is the annual grand finale of the Winter Meetings, taking place on Thursday morning as executives prepare to depart. It is an opportunity for teams to take a chance on untapped talent and, while the players involved are little more than lottery tickets, it has uncovered some real gems over the years.

The Rule 5 Draft involves players who were left off their team's 40-man roster and were either A. signed at age 19 or older and have played in professional baseball for at least four years or B. signed at 18 or younger and have played for at least five years. A team that selects a player in the Rule 5 Draft pays $100,000 to the team from which he was selected, and the receiving team must keep the player on the Major League 25-man roster or disabled list (though the player must be active for at least 90 days) for the entirety of the following season. If the player does not remain on the roster, he must be offered back to the team from which he was selected for $50,000. All players on a team's 40-man roster are "protected" from the Rule 5 Draft, and only teams with vacancies on their 40-man at the time of the Draft can participate (in reverse order of the previous season's standings).

Roberto Clemente, Johan Santana, Dan Uggla, Josh Hamilton and Joakim Soria are the most famous examples of impact players who were acquired in the Rule 5 Draft. There are also Triple-A and Double-A phases of the Draft.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns, listen to his podcast and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.

Crew signs catcher Gosewisch to Minors deal

MLB.com @AdamMcCalvy

MILWAUKEE -- After losing Triple-A catchers Jett Bandy and Christian Bethancourt to free agency in the wake of productive seasons, the Brewers moved to restore some depth to the position Friday by striking a Minor League deal with veteran backstop Tuffy Gosewisch that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.

Gosewisch, 35, last appeared in the Majors with Seattle in 2017, when he played in 11 games. He's a .190/.228/.271 hitter in 447 big league plate appearances as a backup for Arizona and Seattle but has turned in solid defensive work in the Minors over parts of 12 seasons.

MILWAUKEE -- After losing Triple-A catchers Jett Bandy and Christian Bethancourt to free agency in the wake of productive seasons, the Brewers moved to restore some depth to the position Friday by striking a Minor League deal with veteran backstop Tuffy Gosewisch that includes an invitation to big league Spring Training camp.

Gosewisch, 35, last appeared in the Majors with Seattle in 2017, when he played in 11 games. He's a .190/.228/.271 hitter in 447 big league plate appearances as a backup for Arizona and Seattle but has turned in solid defensive work in the Minors over parts of 12 seasons.

The Brewers finished last season with three catchers on the Major League roster, all of whom are back for 2019: Manny Pina, Erik Kratz and prospect Jacob Nottingham.

Gosewisch is only the second outside acquisition by the Brewers since their season ended in Game 7 of the National League Championship Series. On Nov. 13, the team signed left-hander Angel Perdomo to a Minor League contract with a Spring Training invitation.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy and like him on Facebook.

Milwaukee Brewers, Tuffy Gosewisch

Every team's Winter Meetings wish list

MLB clubs head to Las Vegas next week for annual summit
MLB.com @_dadler

Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are set to begin on Monday in Las Vegas, and that means Hot Stove season is about to really kick into high gear.

There have already been some big moves this offseason -- the Yankees' trade for James Paxton, the Mets' trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, the Nationals' signing of Patrick Corbin, the Cardinals' trade for Paul Goldschmidt -- but that's only the beginning.

Baseball's annual Winter Meetings are set to begin on Monday in Las Vegas, and that means Hot Stove season is about to really kick into high gear.

There have already been some big moves this offseason -- the Yankees' trade for James Paxton, the Mets' trade for Edwin Diaz and Robinson Cano, the Nationals' signing of Patrick Corbin, the Cardinals' trade for Paul Goldschmidt -- but that's only the beginning.

When the industry gathers at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, it'll be a chance for teams to set deals in motion and maybe make a big splash or two. What might those be this year? MLB.com is previewing the Winter Meetings right here.

Here are the biggest needs for each of the 30 MLB clubs entering the Winter Meetings.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays
A rotation with a lot of question marks beyond Marcus Stroman and Aaron Sanchez means Toronto needs arms. And those two starters might even draw trade offers, as they're each under control for only two more seasons. More >

Orioles
New general manager Mike Elias has his work cut out for him, as there's a lot the O's need. Besides a new manager and coaching staff, the biggest needs include a middle infielder to pair with Jonathan Villar, a third baseman and multiple outfielders. More >

Rays
The Rays are casting a wide net this offseason in their search for potential impact acquisitions on the trade and free-agent markets. They're looking to add a veteran starter and a hitter to a young core that won 90 games in 2018. More >

Red Sox
The World Series champs have already brought back Steve Pearce and Nathan Eovaldi. But Craig Kimbrel and Joe Kelly are also free agents, which leaves the bullpen as the top priority. Relievers like Adam Ottavino, David Robertson and Andrew Miller will be on the table. More >

Video: MLB Tonight on Eovaldi re-signing with Red Sox

Yankees
The Yankees want one more starter to go with Paxton and the returning CC Sabathia. They want to preserve their deep bullpen, too, with Robertson and Zach Britton being free agents. There's also the Didi Gregorius-sized hole at shortstop, as he'll be recovering from Tommy John surgery. Manny Machado, anyone? More >

AL CENTRAL

Indians
The Indians could be on the verge of some franchise-altering moves. They've traded All-Star catcher Yan Gomes and could deal starters Trevor Bauer or Corey Kluber or some of their top Minor League prospects to address needs elsewhere on the roster, such as the outfield and their bullpen. More >

Video: Will the Indians trade a pitcher at Winter Meetings?

Royals
The Royals' weakest area in 2018 was the relief corps, so that'll be the focus entering the Winter Meetings. They need arms at the back end of the bullpen, and GM Dayton Moore will likely be looking for some veteran additions. More >

Tigers
The middle infield will probably be the Tigers' chief priority -- they want to add a veteran shortstop and maybe a second baseman, too, to give prospect Dawel Lugo time to develop. Detroit is also looking for bullpen help ... but then again, who isn't? More >

Twins
The Twins want a starter and a closer -- they need to fill that second role after trading Fernando Rodney in August. Plus, they could make a move for a corner infielder/outfielder to complement recent acquisition C.J. Cron. More >

White Sox
The White Sox are thinking big. Bryce Harper big. They have serious interest in the superstar free agent. Beyond that, a starter to bolster the rotation in Michael Kopech's absence may be on the list. More >

AL WEST

Angels
The Angels need more pitching, and they need it for both their starting rotation and bullpen. After a string of pitching injuries over the last few years, the club will likely prioritize durability in its search. Los Angeles could also seek an upgrade at catcher, particularly an experienced option. More >

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros
The Astros' roster is still loaded, but they missed out on two players they were interested in: Goldschmidt and Eovaldi. That gives a clue about what Houston will be pursuing at the Winter Meetings -- a starter and an impact bat. More >

Athletics
The A's offseason agenda remains focused on filling out their rotation and finding a catcher. They have a decision to make on whether they want to bring back second baseman Jed Lowrie, while they also need to acquire multiple starting pitchers. Look for Oakland to ramp up its activity next week after a quiet start to the offseason. More >

Mariners
Jerry Dipoto's been making trades left and right, and his roster revamp isn't done yet. The M's might not swing another blockbuster, but they'll certainly be looking to add pitching, especially with both their ace Paxton and their closer Diaz now on new clubs. More >

Rangers
The Rangers have one thing on the mind: pitching. That means multiple inning-eating starters and depth for a depleted bullpen. Texas might not splurge on an expensive name, but they'll be seeking dependability to help take pressure off their younger pitchers. More >

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves
The Braves have already gone out and gotten Josh Donaldson and Brian McCann. What's next? Perhaps an ace for the pitching staff, and maybe even more. Atlanta might also look for an outfielder like Michael Brantley, or a late-inning reliever. More >

Marlins
The Marlins' burning question entering the Winter Meetings: Will they trade J.T. Realmuto? But that's not the only question. The rebuilding Marlins need to add offense, through short-term free agent deals or trades, all if the price is right. More >

Mets
Brodie Van Wagenen has already made waves with his trade for Cano and Diaz. What will the new Mets GM do at his first Winter Meetings? His next move could be for a catcher (Realmuto?), a right-handed-hitting outfielder (A.J. Pollock?) or another stud reliever (Miller?). More >

Nationals
The Nats didn't wait for the Winter Meetings to snatch the top free-agent starter on the market, Corbin. And that's only one of the additions they've already made. They won't wait on Harper to continue shopping, either -- they feel they might be an arm short in the rotation and the bullpen, and they'll want a left-handed bat, even if it's not Harper. More >

Video: Nats introduce free-agent acquisition Patrick Corbin

Phillies
The Phillies are going big. They want Machado, and they want Harper. They also want a frontline starting pitcher, especially after missing out on Corbin. It should be an exciting Winter Meetings for Philly. More >

NL CENTRAL

Brewers
The Brewers don't have much wiggle room within their payroll, but their most significant need is at second base after the club non-tendered Jonathan Schoop. The club may also seek an upgrade at catcher and depth for its bullpen, but those needs are less pressing than the vacancy at second. More >

Cardinals
The Cardinals just pulled off one of the biggest moves of the offseason with their blockbuster trade for Goldschmidt, but they still enter next week's Winter Meetings with a shopping list. The club's top priority of an impact bat has been resolved, so now the focus shifts to the bullpen, which needs a late-inning left-hander and a closer. They're also in the market for a reserve catcher. More >

Video: Cardinals introduce Paul Goldschmidt following trade

Cubs
The Cubs have been linked to Harper all offseason, and the former Nationals star's free agency will be in the spotlight next week. Besides a potential big splash -- which president of baseball operations Theo Epstein has said would require some payroll creativity to add "dollars of real significance" -- Chicago is seeking additional bullpen depth, a backup catcher and a utility infielder. More >

Pirates
The Pirates already re-signed Jung Ho Kang and added outfielder Lonnie Chisenhall. Expect them to keep an eye on the shortstop market, though GM Neal Huntington has said they're comfortable with rookie Kevin Newman and Erik Gonzalez at the position. They could also add another left-handed bullpen arm. More >

Reds
With a new manager in tow, the Reds project to be aggressive in moving beyond their rebuilding effort after four straight last-place finishes in the NL Central. They need more pitching, both in their rotation and bullpen. They're unlikely to be in the mix for a top free-agent arm like Dallas Keuchel, but could add someone from the tier below him. They also need to find a replacement for Billy Hamilton in center field. More >

NL WEST

D-backs
The D-backs addressed one of their top offseason priorities in acquiring starting pitcher Luke Weaver in the Goldschmidt trade. Now they need to fill the void in center field left by Pollock, who is unlikely to re-sign with Arizona, and may also add bullpen depth. More >

Video: After Goldy trade, how will D-backs fill first base?

Dodgers
The Dodgers have already been linked to a number of top free-agent and trade targets this winter, including Harper, Kluber, Yusei Kikuchi and Jose Abreu, so many will be looking to Los Angeles to see how it retools after a second consecutive World Series defeat. The Dodgers need a veteran catcher to pair with Austin Barnes, and will look to upgrade their bullpen. More >

Giants
New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi enters his first Winter Meetings with the Giants looking to address needs in the outfield, rotation and bullpen. He could possibly deepen the club's talent pool by dealing one of its veterans, with Madison Bumgarner being the most valuable trade chip among them. More >

Padres
The Padres have many holes to address on their roster, including third-base and shortstop jobs that are wide open. Among their biggest priorities is acquiring starting pitching, as no rotation members are currently guaranteed spots for next season. The club could also look to deal from its surplus of Major League outfielders. More >

Rockies
With DJ LeMahieu, Carlos Gonzalez and Gerardo Parra all hitting free agency, the Rockies will prioritize offense this offseason. Their versatile roster affords them the luxury of not having limiting needs at specific positions in their search