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Young arms could flourish with veteran backstop

Marlins may target experienced catchers if Realmuto gets dealt
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The Marlins wrapped up the Winter Meetings on Thursday without making a deal for J.T. Realmuto, but they gained more clarity on what the market is for their All-Star catcher.

The field is down to about six teams, MLB.com has confirmed, and Miami keeps working toward finding a match for arguably the best catcher in the game. The Mets, Braves, Dodgers, Rays, Reds and Padres are considered the primary front-runners.

MIAMI -- The Marlins wrapped up the Winter Meetings on Thursday without making a deal for J.T. Realmuto, but they gained more clarity on what the market is for their All-Star catcher.

The field is down to about six teams, MLB.com has confirmed, and Miami keeps working toward finding a match for arguably the best catcher in the game. The Mets, Braves, Dodgers, Rays, Reds and Padres are considered the primary front-runners.

The Marlins have not budged on their demands for Realmuto, who is entering his second year of arbitration.

While the Marlins are open to the best overall package, there is an important factor that fits into the equation. Who would replace Realmuto behind the plate in Miami?

It's a topic president of baseball operations Michael Hill addressed a couple of days ago at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.

Video: Michael Hill on Winter Meetings, market for Realmuto

"I think you have to look at all of that," Hill said. "That's part of this process that you work through."

The Marlins are aware they are not going to replace Realmuto's overall production, but they'd like to have a veteran to handle a young staff.

"The trades that we made [last year], we brought back over 18 pitchers," Hill said. "The success of our pitching is really going to impact our overall organizational success. You want to make sure that no matter what happens, you're covering an important part of your club. And that you have a person who is going to take care of your pitchers as you continue to build. That means your pitchers continue to mature and turn into the championship pieces you think they can be."

Not that the Marlins are necessarily targeting a catcher to be the centerpiece of a potential Realmuto trade, but if one is included, it would help fill a void. Otherwise, Miami would have to explore free agency or make another trade.

Video: Mattingly on Miami's young roster at Winter Meetings

Of the six teams believed to be the most aggressive, each has a veteran option who could be part of a trade: Tucker Barnhart (Reds), Tyler Flowers (Braves), Kevin Plawecki (Mets), Mike Zunino (Rays), Austin Hedges (Padres) and Austin Barnes (Dodgers).

The internal candidates for the Marlins are Chad Wallach, who is on the 40-man roster, and Bryan Holaday -- Realmuto's primary backup in 2018. But Holaday is a non-roster invitee and not guaranteed a roster spot.

Both also are viewed as backups.

The catcher of the future is Will Banfield, ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 8 prospect. But Banfield just turned 19 in November, and he still is a few years away from being big league ready.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto

Marlins depart Meetings without a deal for J.T.

MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

LAS VEGAS -- Sleep deprivation comes with the territory for Major League executives at the Winter Meetings. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill fielded calls and texts at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday regarding J.T. Realmuto.

Even after he tried to get some sleep, Hill's phone was buzzing again at 4:30 a.m. But despite four days of seemingly non-stop discussions, the Marlins exited the Winter Meetings on Thursday without a deal in place for their All-Star catcher.

LAS VEGAS -- Sleep deprivation comes with the territory for Major League executives at the Winter Meetings. Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill fielded calls and texts at 2:30 a.m. on Thursday regarding J.T. Realmuto.

Even after he tried to get some sleep, Hill's phone was buzzing again at 4:30 a.m. But despite four days of seemingly non-stop discussions, the Marlins exited the Winter Meetings on Thursday without a deal in place for their All-Star catcher.

That still could change at any time over the next few days, or even weeks. Or nothing at all may happen. Such is the nature of trying to make trades.

"As it pertains to J.T., these meetings are an opportunity to share ideas with your peers," Hill said. "From that standpoint, there's been a ton of discussion on a myriad of items."

Video: Clock ticking at Winter Meetings for Realmuto deal

Realmuto rumors dominated the Winter Meetings, with a wide range of scenarios surfacing over the past four days. The 27-year-old was linked to everything, including a potential three-team deal with the Mets and Yankees.

There was plenty of speculation on Monday night, when it was reported that a proposal was discussed that would have sent Realmuto to the Mets, and Noah Syndergaard to the Yankees, with an unrevealed package of prospects going to the Marlins.

That report was quickly shot down and described as overblown.

Video: Ken Rosenthal: Mets pushing the hardest for Realmuto

But there was no denying a high number of teams explored various ways to acquire Realmuto. The Mets, Yankees, Dodgers, Reds, Braves, Rays and Phillies were all mentioned as possible landing spots for the All-Star catcher.

Realmuto has two years of arbitration remaining, and the Marlins insist they can stand pat in terms of dealing their best player.

"I think it's coming into form of where things are," Hill said. "This is not something that we have to do, so we didn't come to these Meetings thinking we had to do anything with J.T. Realmuto."

BIGGEST REMAINING NEEDS
1. Left-handed bat: When not discussing Realmuto, the Marlins spent the week weighing possible ways to bolster an offense that ranked last in the Majors in runs, homers, doubles and slugging percentage. Now that they no longer have Justin Bour and Derek Dietrich, adding lefty power is at the top of their list.

"We're focused on offense and will continue to focus on offense," Hill said. "We'll see what the rest of the offseason holds in terms of taking care of those."

Video: Mattingly on Miami's young roster at Winter Meetings

2. First base: The search continues for a first baseman, and Miami is open to filling the spot either through trade or a free agency. Free agent Matt Adams fits the profile.

Video: Matt Adams set to enter free agency in 2019

3. Bullpen: The Marlins dealt Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals in October for international bonus pool money. Although Barraclough had his struggles closing, he had experience pitching high-leverage innings. The Marlins are in the market for a veteran reliever who has either closed or pitched in late innings.

"Anything can gain traction at any moment," Hill said. "From our standpoint, I think we have a solid understanding of where our counterparts are. We'll go on our way to try to improve our club."

RULE 5 DRAFT
In the Major League phase, the Marlins selected right-hander Riley Ferrell from the Astros' Triple-A roster. The 25-year-old throws 95-99 mph and has a power slider. He will be given an opportunity to pitch in high-leverage relief situations. In the Triple-A phase, Miami lost outfielder Braxton Lee, who was selected by the Mets. More >

Tweet from @Marlins: With the fourth pick in the MLB phase of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, the Miami Marlins selected RHP Riley Ferrell from the Houston Astros organization. Welcome to Miami, Riley! #OurColores pic.twitter.com/eYLWVh9yVh

GM'S BOTTOM LINE
"For us, as a group, we were able to explore a number of different ways for us to get better. There's still a long way to go in the offseason and still a number of players on the market. But I think our time spent here was well spent because we were able to line some things up. I think we have a great perspective of what the market is to add offense and potentially explore a number of other things that we may want to." -- Hill

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, J.T. Realmuto

Marlins select RHP Ferrell in Rule 5 Draft

Miami loses outfield prospect Lee in Triple-A phase
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

LAS VEGAS -- Utilizing all avenues to acquire new talent, the Marlins selected right-hander Riley Ferrell from the Astros in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

The Rule 5 Draft is the last order of business at the Winter Meetings, which wrapped up with Miami not completing any significant trades. The Marlins also didn't lose any players off their Triple-A roster in the MLB phase, which means lefty reliever McKenzie Mills will remain with New Orleans. In the Triple-A phase, Miami lost Double-A outfielder Braxton Lee, who was taken by the Mets.

LAS VEGAS -- Utilizing all avenues to acquire new talent, the Marlins selected right-hander Riley Ferrell from the Astros in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

The Rule 5 Draft is the last order of business at the Winter Meetings, which wrapped up with Miami not completing any significant trades. The Marlins also didn't lose any players off their Triple-A roster in the MLB phase, which means lefty reliever McKenzie Mills will remain with New Orleans. In the Triple-A phase, Miami lost Double-A outfielder Braxton Lee, who was taken by the Mets.

In Ferrell, the Marlins envision a candidate who will get an immediate chance to pitch in high-leverage innings in the big leagues. The Astros selected the right-hander in the third round of the 2015 Draft out of Texas Christian University.

"He is somebody we had followed out of the Draft," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "He had a history of pitching in high-leverage innings in college and has had success since he's come into professional ball. As we looked at options for us in the Rule 5 Draft, we think we will have opportunity in bullpen."

Tweet from @Marlins: With the fourth pick in the MLB phase of the 2018 Rule 5 Draft, the Miami Marlins selected RHP Riley Ferrell from the Houston Astros organization. Welcome to Miami, Riley! #OurColores pic.twitter.com/eYLWVh9yVh

The cost to take players in the MLB phase is $100,000.

Ferrell must spend the season on Miami's big league roster, unless he is on the disabled list.

MLB Pipeline ranked the 25-year-old reliever as the Astros' No. 17 prospect. He split time in 2018 at the Double-A and Triple-A levels, combining for a 4-3 record with a 4.53 ERA in 43 games. In 51 2/3 innings, Ferrell struck out 67 and walked 34. His fastball has been in the 95-99 mph range, and he mixes in a power slider.

Ferrell enjoyed better success at Double-A, where he posted a 1.90 ERA in 21 appearances. At Triple-A, his ERA jumped to 6.75.

A year ago, Miami made two selections in the MLB phase, taking right-hander Elieser Hernandez from the Astros and right-hander Brett Graves from the A's. Both spent the entire season with the Marlins.

Video: WSH@MIA: Hernandez freezes Turner, strands bases full

On Monday, the Marlins outrighted Graves to Triple-A, along with infielder Yadiel Rivera, to reduce the club's 40-man roster to 38.

The Marlins actually have another player on their 40-man roster who is under Rule 5 restrictions: hard-throwing right-hander Julian Fernandez, who was claimed off waivers recently from the Giants. He missed all of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery and is not expected to be available until at least June. Because Fernandez was a Rule 5 Draft selection a year ago for San Francisco, he still is subjected to Rule 5 guidelines.

Mills, acquired from the Phillies in August for Justin Bour, was left unprotected on the 40-man roster. He is listed as the club's No. 30 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline.

History of the Rule 5 Draft

Lee, acquired by Miami in June 2017 from Tampa Bay in the Adeiny Hechavarria deal, was on the Marlins' Opening Day roster in '18. He ranked as Miami's No. 29 prospect.

The emergence of outfield prospect Brian Miller made Lee expendable.

The Marlins have traditionally been active in the Rule 5 Draft, with their most famous selection coming at the 2005 Winter Meetings. That year, they selected Dan Uggla from the D-backs' system, and he became a three-time All-Star second baseman.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Riley Ferrell, Braxton Lee, McKenzie Mills

Fish outright Rivera, Graves to free roster space

Miami likely to be active in MLB phase of Rule 5 Draft
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

LAS VEGAS -- By clearing roster space on Tuesday, the Marlins will now be able to participate in the MLB phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Miami opened up two spots on its 40-man roster by outrighting infielder Yadiel Rivera and right-hander Brett Graves to Triple-A New Orleans.

LAS VEGAS -- By clearing roster space on Tuesday, the Marlins will now be able to participate in the MLB phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.

Miami opened up two spots on its 40-man roster by outrighting infielder Yadiel Rivera and right-hander Brett Graves to Triple-A New Orleans.

Hot Stove Tracker

In order for clubs to take part in the Rule 5 Draft, their roster must have at least one open 40-man spot. The Rule 5 Draft is the final order of business at the Winter Meetings, which will be held at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.

Graves was a Rule 5 Draft claim at the 2017 Winter Meetings.

The Marlins have a history of being active in the Rule 5 Draft. A year ago, they made two MLB claims -- Graves and right-hander Elieser Hernandez. Both stayed with the organization the entire season.

Video: MIA@WSH: Graves retires Zimmerman to record 1st save

Depending on which players might be available, the Marlins may carry at least two players who have Rule 5 status.

Last month, the Marlins claimed hard-throwing right-handed reliever Julian Fernandez off waivers from the Giants. Fernandez, 23, had Rule 5 status with San Francisco, but he underwent Tommy John surgery and missed the entire season.

The fact Fernandez wasn't on San Francisco's active roster all year means he now is under Rule 5 Draft guidelines. He must stay on the active roster or on the disabled list all season and can't be optioned to the Minor Leagues.

"We have Julian Fernandez, who already will be under the Rule 5 restrictions," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "I think for us, if there is an opportunity to add a piece we think can help us, we will explore it."

Video: PHI@MIA: Rivera ranges back to make a nice grab

Rivera served in a super-utility role for the Marlins in 2018, appearing in 111 games while playing seven positions. A natural infielder, he appeared at every position except pitcher and catcher.

The 26-year-old Rivera was more of a defensive specialist, batting .173 with one home run and nine RBIs in 139 at-bats.

Graves opened the season on the DL due to a left oblique injury. In 21 relief appearances spanning 33 1/3 innings with the Marlins, the 25-year-old right-hander posted a 1-1 record with a 5.40 ERA and one save.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Brett Graves, Yadiel Rivera

Why Realmuto is more valuable than you think

MLB catchers just had 4th-weakest hitting line in past 100 years
MLB.com @mike_petriello

Aside from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the biggest name at the Winter Meetings is Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto, and it's not hard to see why. In October, his agent made it clear that his client would not be signing an extension with the Marlins, and the rumors have been flying ever since. We know the Mets are trying to complete a deal, and we know that a three-team deal including the Yankees (and potentially Noah Syndergaard) has been discussed. We know that at least seven teams -- the Mets and Yankees, but also the Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Phillies and Braves -- have expressed interest, and the true number is almost certainly larger than that. 

It's to the point that it's become clear that it's not a case of if a deal will get done, but when, and the answer is apparently "any second now."

Aside from Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, the biggest name at the Winter Meetings is Miami catcher J.T. Realmuto, and it's not hard to see why. In October, his agent made it clear that his client would not be signing an extension with the Marlins, and the rumors have been flying ever since. We know the Mets are trying to complete a deal, and we know that a three-team deal including the Yankees (and potentially Noah Syndergaard) has been discussed. We know that at least seven teams -- the Mets and Yankees, but also the Dodgers, Astros, Padres, Phillies and Braves -- have expressed interest, and the true number is almost certainly larger than that. 

It's to the point that it's become clear that it's not a case of if a deal will get done, but when, and the answer is apparently "any second now."

Tweet from @clarkspencer: Marlins want an impact player for Realmuto. Hearing that it was Jeter who is insisting on inclusion of MLB player rather than an all-prospects haul. A deal WILL get done, most likely this week. https://t.co/FFntk2GPbg

It's possible that fans outside of Miami don't really know how good Realmuto is, since he's never recieved a Most Valuable Player vote or driven in even 80 runs. But it's not hyperbole to say that he's the best all-around catcher in the game, in part because the catching heroes of recent years like Buster Posey, Russell Martin, and Yadier Molina have begun to age, and in part because the offensive state of catching is historically weak right now.

The reason that so many teams would be interested in acquiring Realmuto is because so few teams actually have a catcher who can hit -- and that only benefits the Marlins. Just look at how many catching leaderboards he was at or near the top of in 2018:

First in pop time, 1.90 seconds
Second in catcher arm strength, 87.8 mph
Sixth in caught-stealing percentage, 38 percent (minimum 30 attempts)
First in catcher Sprint Speed, 28.6 feet per second
Second in slugging percentage, .484, of 27 catchers with 300 plate appearances
Second in catcher wRC+, 126, of those 27 catchers
• First in catcher WAR, both with framing (5.8) and without (4.8)

On the hitting side, he did all of that despite having to deal with perhaps the biggest home-field disadvantage in the game. In his career, Realmuto has a .291 wOBA at home and a .364 wOBA on the road -- the largest gap of any regular hitter dating back to 2002.

Video: WSH@MIA: Realmuto hits a walk-off single to right

You can argue about whether Realmuto is the best or the second-best or the fourth-best catcher if you like, but the point is that he's elite. So he's in extremely high demand, and this is where we get to talking about how poorly catchers across the Majors hit in 2018. (Spoiler alert: very.) 

To express that, let's look back at the past 100 seasons of baseball and look at how well catchers hit each year. We'll use Weighted On-Base Average, or wOBA, which is very similar to traditional on-base percentage, except that it gives more credit for extra-base hits rather than giving equal credit for each time on base.  

In that entire century of baseball, only three times have catchers hit worse than the .232/.304/.372 (.296 wOBA) they combined for in 2018 -- and all three times were in the low-offense 1960s, an era so devoid of production that the sport had to lower the mound in 1969 to account for it.

Weakest catcher hitting seasons, 1919-2018, wOBA
.281 -- 1967
.285 -- 1968
.290 -- 1965
.296 -- 2018 (tied with 1989 and 2015)

For context, the entire sport of backstops hit basically like White Sox infielder Yolmer Sanchez, who put up a .242/.306/.372 line this year. (If we look at it as a comparison against the league hitting average that year rather than as a raw number, it's still one of the 10 weakest seasons.)

What that means is that while Realmuto would be valuable in any year, he might be especially so right now, just because so many teams could use an offensive boost behind the plate. When the supply is low, the demand for one of the few all-around catchers is higher.

Now, the obvious question here is "why?" Why is catching offense down so markedly right now? There's not one clear answer, but a few theories include...

1. Maybe it's just a down year. 
Are we just in between catcher generations? We ran into this a few years ago at shortstop where there was a brief down period between the Derek Jeter/Hanley Ramirez/Jimmy Rollins era and the current standout Francisco Lindor/Corey Seager/Carlos Correa/Xander Bogaerts group. 

Behind the plate, older stars like Molina, Martin, Posey, Brian McCann, Jonathan Lucroy and Matt Wieters are generally not the same players they were a few years ago. Throw in surprisingly poor years from younger catchers like Gary Sanchez, Willson Contreras and Austin Barnes, and maybe it's the perfect storm -- or at least it would be, if 2018's .296 wOBA weren't tied with what we saw in '15.

Video: MIA@NYM: J.T. Realmuto throws out Amed Rosario

2. Maybe it's just harder than ever to be a catcher.
We talk a lot about how much more difficult it is to hit these days, thanks to the increase in velocity, breaking balls, and ever-increasing numbers of relief pitchers all showing different looks and repertoires. What if that's impacting catchers, too? We saw Grandal's high-profile struggles this October, but that's been an issue for Sanchez as well, and as FanGraphs showed recently, the past several seasons have had the highest rate of passed balls and wild pitches we've seen in years.

Because of all that, and because games are longer (in terms of pitches and time) than ever, and because teams are selecting for pitch-framing skill more than ever before, different types of players make it to the bigs behind the plate. It's harder to see sluggers of years past, like Mickey Tettleton or Mike Piazza, or even more recent names like Evan Gattis, sticking at catcher.

3. Maybe it's just harder than ever to develop catchers.
Catchers notoriously develop later than other positions, but what we're seeing now is something else. Five years ago, there were six catchers 25-or-under who had at least 200 plate appearances and league-average or better hitting. This year, there were none, one of only 14 times that's happened in the past 100 seasons.

Top hitting prospects like Harper and Wil Myers, who were amateur catchers, don't often get to stay there in the pros, as teams hope to expedite their arrival and limit injury risk. Kyle Schwarber's catching career is over; so, after some time behind the plate, were those of Joe Mauer and Carlos Santana.

If you go back to the 2011 MLB Pipeline Top 10 catchers list, only Yasmani Grandal has had an extended period as a quality starter; Travis d'Arnaud, Sanchez, Wilin Rosario and Derek Norris have had their moments. From the 2014 list, it's more of the same. Austin Hedges, Jorge Alfaro and Kevin Plawecki have been OK at best; Schwarber no longer catches and Blake Swihart barely does; Max Pentecost, Andrew Susac, Reese McGuire and Christian Bethancourt seem unlikely to break through.

The point being, it's harder than ever to catch, or to find a good catcher still in his 20s, so that's why Realmuto should cost a ton and will be worth it, which is why you could envision him on so many different teams. You see why the Mets prefer him to d'Arnaud or Plawecki, or why the Dodgers view him as a Grandal replacement, or how he would be a phemonenal fit in Houston, where Martin Maldonado and McCann are both departing the 2018 roster. (No, signing Robinson Chirinos doesn't prevent this move.)

Realmuto is valuable because he's a great player, the best at his position in the game. But he's valuable because he's a great player at the right time, when far too many teams are dealing with a total lack of offense behind the plate. It's hard to find a player who can hit well and receive, too. It's hard to find a Realmuto. It's why so many teams are willing to pay such a high price for him.

Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast.

J.T. Realmuto

In final year of contract, Mattingly looks ahead

Marlins skipper 'not really worrying' about job security, focused on club's future
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

LAS VEGAS -- From the bottom up, the Marlins are committed to building for the future. But beyond the 2019 season, the status of manager Don Mattingly remains unclear.

Mattingly is entering the fourth and final year of his contract, and there are no current negotiations for an extension.

LAS VEGAS -- From the bottom up, the Marlins are committed to building for the future. But beyond the 2019 season, the status of manager Don Mattingly remains unclear.

Mattingly is entering the fourth and final year of his contract, and there are no current negotiations for an extension.

"No talks about anything moving forward," Mattingly said on Monday during his media session at the Winter Meetings. "And I think my situation is not really important, to be quite honest with you. Just more concerned about what we're doing. Again, building this thing. I'm kind of at a point, old enough, where I'm not really worrying about what's happening next."

Although there is nothing in the works for an extension, there are indications the Marlins would like to retain Mattingly beyond 2019. But that is a decision that will be addressed at a later date.

A consummate professional, Mattingly is considered a calming influence with an impressive track record as a player and a manager. Miami is looking for those qualities to help mold and develop a young club. In Mattingly's first three seasons with the Marlins, they are 219-265 (.452).

Hired by former Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria after the 2015 season, the organization changed ownership in '17, with a group led by Bruce Sherman and Derek Jeter taking over. A mandate was made after the '17 season to break up the previous core of players and look to restock the system. That process began in June 2017, and since then, more than a dozen trades were made that brought in more than 30 new players.

Video: Mattingly discusses Miami staying the course in 2019

Working with a roster that featured more than 20 rookies in 2018, the Marlins finished 63-98 to claim last place in the National League East.

Prior to joining the Marlins, Mattingly managed the Dodgers for five seasons, from 2011-15. He guided Los Angeles to three straight NL West titles.

The Marlins rounded out Mattingly's staff last week by hiring Mel Stottlemyre Jr. as pitching coach, Trey Hillman as first-base/infield coach, Jeff Livesey as assistant hitting coach and Kevin Barr as strength and conditioning coach.

"I like it here," Mattingly said. "I want to be a part of what we're doing and building it. But, again, I'm just kind of at a point where I'm pretty comfortable with myself, where I'm at."

Along with his own status, Mattingly addressed a wide range of topics on Monday.

• Thoughts on J.T. Realmuto and how he is handling rumors he might be traded: "He knows how much we like him and what we think about him. He's handling everything fine. J.T.'s a tough kid. He's a big-time leader. It's why we love him. It's why a lot of teams love him."

• Thoughts on the new staff: "We're really comfortable with the staff we've put together, and I think we're going to get solid baseball guys that are on both sides of understanding what you have to understand today -- today's game from the numbers, analytics, being able to use that in your teaching, to also being guys that have a lot of just experience within the game and teaching and have worked on a lot of different areas within the organization. So really comfortable with that."

• Reaction to Harold Baines and Lee Smith being inducted into the Hall of Fame on Sunday night: "When you see Harold, played 22 years or something like that, and you end up with a pile of numbers that grow and grow, you know, I think Harold had 2,800 hits. I hit [2,153] … I just didn't play long enough, wasn't able to stay healthy long enough to really put that pile of numbers together. So there was a period of time that I could hit with anybody and do things on the field at my position and with the bat that nobody was doing."

• The closer decision between right-hander Drew Steckenrider or lefty Adam Conley: "I see it more now not as a closer, but kind of what we've been doing at the end of the year. With Adam and Steck, we were able to match it up the way we wanted. We don't want to be walking into three out of four lefties, and say, 'Steck is our closer no matter what.' And then we're not in the right situation. The same goes for the eighth or the seventh."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins

The top pending free agent for all 30 teams

MLB.com @williamfleitch

With trade season in the past, we can now look forward to two wonderful baseball things: the postseason and the Hot Stove. The fun thing about the Hot Stove is that, unlike the postseason, everyone gets to be involved. Whether your team won the World Series or finished 50-plus games out of first place, you're a part of the Hot Stove. The offseason is for everyone.

This week, we take a look at the top pending free agent for every team heading into this offseason. Some of these players will re-sign with their old team, some of them will be the object of bidding wars, but all of them have a decision to make. As do their former employers.

With trade season in the past, we can now look forward to two wonderful baseball things: the postseason and the Hot Stove. The fun thing about the Hot Stove is that, unlike the postseason, everyone gets to be involved. Whether your team won the World Series or finished 50-plus games out of first place, you're a part of the Hot Stove. The offseason is for everyone.

This week, we take a look at the top pending free agent for every team heading into this offseason. Some of these players will re-sign with their old team, some of them will be the object of bidding wars, but all of them have a decision to make. As do their former employers.

For the sake of discussion here, we are counting players who have an option to opt out of their contract, if we consider them more likely to do so than not.

American League East

Blue Jays
Marco Estrada
Estrada is having the worst year of his career, and has particularly struggled since June -- though lingering back soreness might have a little bit to do with that. He was an All-Star only two years ago.

Video: TOR@MIA: Estrada K's Brinson on foul tip

Orioles
Adam Jones
He obviously loves it in Baltimore, but it might get a little ugly there the next few years. He still has plenty to offer a competitive team.

Video: TOR@BAL: Jones cranks a grand slam to left in the 5th

Rays
Carlos Gomez
Gomez has had his worst season since his Twins days, but someone will surely give him a shot as a fourth outfielder.

Video: TB@ATL: Gomez plates Wendle with a single to left

Red Sox
Craig Kimbrel
He has talked about how much he'd like to return to the Red Sox. But considering how good he has been, once again, they'll have to pay for the privilege.

Video: TB@BOS: Kimbrel retires Kiermaier, earns 37th save

Yankees
Andrew McCutchen
McCutchen will be one of the most fascinating free-agency cases this offseason. He could make himself some money with a big postseason.

Video: DET@NYY: McCutchen makes the catch in right

AL Central

Indians
Andrew Miller
Michael Brantley and Cody Allen would also have been options. But even after a somewhat down year, the way baseball is played now, someone's going to pay through the nose for Miller.

Video: LAA@CLE: Miller fires a fastball past Young for the K

Royals
Alcides Escobar
Considering the Royals' devotion to Escobar over the years, they might as well sign him for five more seasons at this point.

Video: DET@KC: Escobar lays out for the stop, nabs Iglesias

Tigers
Jose Iglesias
Since Victor Martinez has said he's going to retire, we'll go with the slick-fielding shortstop.

Video: MIN@DET: Iglesias drives 2-run smash to left

Twins
Joe Mauer
His massive contract is finally expiring. But by all accounts, he and the team look like they'd be happy to see him back next year.

Video: OAK@MIN: Mauer moves to 2nd in Twins all-time hits

White Sox
James Shields
Though Shields hasn't been that bad this year, it's difficult to see the White Sox picking up his $16 million option.

Video: CWS@NYY: Shields tosses 5 2/3 frames of 2-run ball

AL West

Angels
Jim Johnson
He's still hanging around, and is still a pretty effective relief pitcher. The other major free agent, Garrett Richards, had Tommy John surgery and won't be back until 2020.

Video: KC@LAA: Johnson fans Moustakas to retire side in 5th

Astros
Dallas Keuchel
The former AL Cy Young Award winner will be one of the more fascinating names on the market this summer (as will his teammate, Charlie Morton).

Video: HOU@LAA: Keuchel tosses 7 strong frames vs. Angels

A's
Jonathan Lucroy
The A's would surely be happy to bring him back on another one-year contract, but someone else might be willing to go longer at this point.

Video: MIN@OAK: Lucroy cranks a 3-run homer to left field

Mariners
Nelson Cruz
Thirty-eight years old or not, every team could use a guy who hits at least 35 homers every year.

Video: SEA@OAK: Cruz crushes a solo homer to left-center

Rangers
Adrian Beltre
The future Hall of Famer has said he wants to return to Texas in 2019, but he'll have suitors out there.

Video: MIN@TEX: Beltre clubs solo homer, strikes karate pose

National League East

Braves
Nick Markakis
He picked an excellent time to have the best season of an already excellent career.

Video: TB@ATL: Markakis dives to rob Bauers in the 9th

Marlins
None

Seriously. Now that they traded Brad Ziegler at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, the Marlins have no pending free agents -- though that could change when the 40-man roster gets tighter this offseason. But this is a good thing. The Marlins are laying a foundation.

Mets
Devin Mesoraco
He has been a handy player since he came over from the Reds, rebuilding his value enough that he might get a nice deal this offseason.

Video: NYM@PHI: Mesoraco clubs a solo homer to left field

Nationals
Bryce Harper
You might have heard a little bit about his pending free agency.

Video: WSH@NYM: Harper clears bases with pinch-hit double

Phillies
Wilson Ramos
Fitting for a team that's just starting to build, its only major free agents (Ramos and Asdrubal Cabrera) were Trade Deadline acquisitions.

Video: WSH@PHI: Ramos cuts the lead with RBI double in 9th

NL Central

Brewers
Joakim Soria
It's up in the air whether or not the Brewers will pick up his $10 million option this offseason. He's just off the disabled list, and it's not like the Brewers don't have plenty of bullpen options. (You could also say Mike Moustakas for this, but given the premium teams are putting on their bullpen these days -- and the fact that Moose struggled to get a multiyear deal last year -- Soria could end up being more in demand.)

Video: MIL@CIN: Soria fans Dixon, earns 1st win of season

Cardinals
Bud Norris
Norris, along with Jordan Hicks, has been the most stable part of a Cardinals bullpen, which was once one of the worst in baseball but is now one of the best.

Video: PIT@STL: Norris induces double play to notch the save

Cubs
Daniel Murphy
Every hit he gives the Cubs makes him a little more money this offseason.

Video: CIN@CHC: Murphy smacks a 2-run homer to right-center

Pirates
Jordy Mercer
Mercer feels like he has played for the Pirates since Sid Bream, but it has actually only been since 2012.

Video: PIT@SF: Mercer drives in Freese with an RBI single

Reds
Matt Harvey
One of the teams that could probably use him the most is … Cincinnati.

Video: MIL@CIN: Harvey fans Peralta, the side in the 4th

NL West

D-backs
A.J. Pollock
The D-backs have a ton of pending free agents, but none have been as critical to the team's success -- and will be as desired by other teams -- as Pollock.

Video: SEA@ARI: Pollock gives D-backs lead with 2-run single

Dodgers
Clayton Kershaw and Manny Machado
There's no way we could pick just one of these two -- though Kershaw is no guarantee to actually hit the market. The Dodgers ace can opt out of the final two years and $65 million on his contract this winter. Kershaw can also do what CC Sabathia and the Yankees did in 2011, and renegotiate the contract in lieu of an opt-out.

Video: AR@LAD: Machado barehands slow roller to get the out

Giants
Hunter Pence
It has been another lost season for Pence. But if he can get healthy in the offseason, he might be worth a one-year flyer.

Video: TEX@SF: 'Underpants' lifts pinch-hit homer in 7th

Padres
Freddy Galvis
Galvis hasn't missed a game since 2016, for what it's worth.

Video: COL@SD: Galvis dives to make grab on Story's liner

Rockies
DJ LeMahieu
How much teams factor in Coors Field in their evaluations of LeMahieu -- and he actually has a higher slugging percentage on the road this year than in Denver -- will determine where, and for how much, he'll spend the next few years of his career.

Video: COL@SD: LeMahieu swats a solo homer to left-center

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Brinson gave D-Wade a new Marlins jersey

Last month, the Marlins debuted new team colors, moving toward a teal and pinkish-red scheme that evokes images of Miami's vibrant nightlife. Of course, they revealed new logos and uniforms to reflect those changes, leaving everyone in need of some wardrobe updates.

On Thursday, outfielder Lewis Brinson did his part to make sure that Miami's best was properly outfitted with the latest in Marlins fashion by bringing a new jersey to three-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade:

Each team's best 1st-rounder of the past decade

MLB.com

The release of the 2019 Draft Top 50 list had the MLB Pipeline staff thinking about Drafts in years past. Teams always want to get that first pick right, and there have been some real home runs hit in the first round.

Who were the best first-round picks for each team over the last decade? MLB Pipeline dug through the first rounds of the last 10 years (2009-18) and picked the top first-rounder for each organization. Only those chosen in what was the official first round each year were considered -- no supplemental picks were allowed. The 2014 Draft has been the most fruitful, with six players from that first round making the list. The Drafts from 2012 and 2009 are right behind with five selections, with the latter boasting the player who has to be the single best first-round selection over the last 10 years.

The release of the 2019 Draft Top 50 list had the MLB Pipeline staff thinking about Drafts in years past. Teams always want to get that first pick right, and there have been some real home runs hit in the first round.

Who were the best first-round picks for each team over the last decade? MLB Pipeline dug through the first rounds of the last 10 years (2009-18) and picked the top first-rounder for each organization. Only those chosen in what was the official first round each year were considered -- no supplemental picks were allowed. The 2014 Draft has been the most fruitful, with six players from that first round making the list. The Drafts from 2012 and 2009 are right behind with five selections, with the latter boasting the player who has to be the single best first-round selection over the last 10 years.

AL East

Marcus Stroman, RHP, Blue Jays, 2012 (No. 22 overall)
Stroman's profile scared away many teams in the 2012 Draft, but the Duke product has done his part to overcome the stigma associated with being an undersized right-hander. Though he regressed in 2018, while dealing with right shoulder fatigue and, later, a blister issue, Stroman posted back-to-back 200-inning seasons (2016-17) and has been worth 10.6 WAR over five seasons with the Blue Jays.

Manny Machado, SS, Orioles, 2010 (No. 3 overall)
Machado made the jump straight from Double-A to the Majors as a 19-year-old in late 2012, and quickly became a star. His 33.8 WAR is the highest among 2010 first-round position players, second only to Chris Sale, and after helping guide Baltimore to two postseason appearances as a four-time All-Star, Machado netted the organization five Top 30 prospects when it dealt him to the Dodgers this past July.

Ryne Stanek, RHP, Rays, 2013 (No. 29 overall)
Drafting in the first round has long been a problem for the typically savvy Rays, and even their selection of Stanek isn't a hands-down win for the organization, considering he was viewed as a starter (before needing hip surgery) out of the Draft. That said, the right-hander emerged as a legitimate late-inning weapon (and, at times, an "opener") for the Rays in 2018, when he compiled a 2.98 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and 11.0 strikeouts per nine innings over 66 1/3 innings (59 appearances).

Andrew Benintendi, OF, Red Sox, 2015 (No. 7 overall)
Benintendi went from unheralded Arkansas freshman to consensus College Baseball Player of the Year as a sophomore, soaring up Draft boards in the process. The Red Sox had him No. 2 on theirs (behind Dansby Swanson), which he justified by becoming a regular in their 2018 World Series championship lineup just 13 months after signing.

Video: 2015 Draft: Red Sox draft OF Andrew Benintendi No. 7

Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees, 2013 (No. 32 overall)
Judge was the second of three Yankees first-rounders in 2013, sandwiched between Eric Jagielo (No. 26) and Ian Clarkin (No. 33), and lasting that long because there were questions about how well his massive raw power would translate into production. After only hitting 18 homers in three years at Fresno State and 56 in three seasons in the Minors, he exploded for a rookie-record 52 in 2017.

AL Central

Francisco Lindor, SS, Indians, 2011 (No. 8 overall)
Cleveland landed perhaps the best player in a historically good first-round class, as Lindor has become one of the faces of game while totaling 23.9 WAR -- second to Mookie Betts (35.2) among 2011 draftees -- and leading the Indians to an American League title (2016) since his debut in '15, when he finished second in AL Rookie of the Year Award voting. Entering his age-25 season, he's garnered All-Star honors and finished Top 10 in MVP voting in each of the last three years.

Aaron Crow, RHP, Royals, 2009 (No. 12 overall)
The Royals haven't fared well in the first round during the last decade, though Crow made the All-Star Game as a rookie in 2011, and was an effective reliever for four seasons until he blew out his elbow shortly after a trade to the Marlins. Cristian Colon (No. 4 overall, 2010) didn't have as much sustained success but delivered the championship-winning hit in the 2015 World Series.

Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers, 2018 (No. 1 overall)
Perhaps this one is more aspirational because he's thrown only 13 2/3 career innings since being the top pick in last June's Draft, but Mize should be able to use his three plus pitches and his plus control to move quickly through the Tigers' system. Look for him in Detroit sooner rather than later.

Alex Kirilloff, OF, Twins, 2016 (No. 16 overall)
The rules for this story don't allow for a supplemental first-round pick to be chosen, otherwise Jose Berrios might be the guy. But after missing the 2017 season, Kirilloff erupted in '18, his first real full season, and is looking like one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball.

Chris Sale, LHP, White Sox, 2010 (No. 13 overall)
After 2010's Big Three of Bryce Harper, Jameson Taillon and Machado, Sale should have been the next player taken. But teams psyched themselves out over worries about his low arm slot and desire for a big league contract (typical for top college arms at the time), allowing the White Sox to steal him at No. 13. He was saving games for Chicago by September and has been an All-Star in each of his seven seasons as a starter.

Video: WS2018 Gm1: Sale K's Dozier to start off World Series

AL West

Matt Chapman, 3B, A's, 2014 (No. 25 overall)
Chapman emerged as the A's next homegrown star in his first fully healthy season, as he ranked third in WAR (8.2) among all position players, finished seventh in AL MVP voting and took home the revered Platinum Glove award as baseball's best defensive player. His 11.7 WAR in 229 career games is tops among positional players from his Draft class -- ahead of even Trea Turner (10.4), who's played 360 games.

Mike Trout, OF, Angels, 2009 (No. 25 overall)
The teams that say they had Trout No. 2 on their board are sort of like the million people who say they were present for The Shot Heard Round the World. Their loss was the Angels' gain, obviously, as he's turned into one of the game's top stars, with seven All-Star appearances and two MVP Awards.

Carlos Correa, SS, Astros, 2012 (No. 1 overall)
George Springer (No. 11, 2011) and Alex Bregman (No. 2, 2015) can also make a case, but our choice is Correa. A series of impressive pre-Draft workouts gave him late helium and made him the first Puerto Rican taken with the top choice. He won AL Rookie of the Year Award honors in '15, then received All-Star recognition and won a World Series two year later.

Video: ALCS Gm1: Correa knocks go-ahead single in 6th

Mike Zunino, C, Mariners, 2012 (No. 3 overall)
Zunino struggled for several years after being rushed to the Major Leagues and hit .207 over 2,000 plate appearances with Seattle. His combination of right-handed power and strong defense behind the plate, however, became increasingly valuable, especially with the quality of the position on the decline across the Majors.

Lewis Brinson, OF, Rangers, 2012 (No. 29 overall)
The Rangers' 13 first-round picks from the last decade have produced only three big leaguers and a combined -0.4 WAR so far. An exceptional athlete who has yet to hit in the Majors, Brinson went to the Brewers in a deal for Jeremy Jeffress and Jonathan Lucroy in July 2016, and to the Marlins in a trade for Christian Yelich last January.

NL East

Kyle Wright, RHP, Braves, 2017 (No. 5 overall)
The Braves hoped Wright would move quickly when they took him with their first pick in the 2017 Draft out of Vanderbilt. Starting his first full season in Double-A was a good sign and reaching Atlanta before the year was over was ahead of schedule, even for a fast-tracker.

Christian Yelich, OF, Marlins, 2010 (No. 23 overall)
One of the 2010 Draft's better hitters as a California prep, Yelich reached the Majors in mid-2013 and received a seven-year, $49.57 million contract extension two years later. He hit .290/.369/.432 (18.6 WAR) over 643 games with Miami, and then helped the organization restock its farm system with four prospects, including Brinson and Monte Harrison, when they dealt him to Milwaukee last offseason. In his first year with the Brewers, Yelich won the batting title (.326) and powered the club to the National League Championship Series en route to MVP honors.

Video: NLCS Gm7: Yelich crushes solo homer to right-center

Michael Conforto, OF, Mets, 2014 (No. 10 overall)
It took the Oregon State product only a year to get to the big leagues, and while his performance has been a little up and down, he's hit 56 homers the last two years and has an All-Star nod already on his resume. Still only 25, he has already amassed nearly 1,400 Major League at-bats.

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals, 2010 (No. 1 overall)
The Nationals' selection of Harper with the first pick in the 2010 Draft forever changed the course of the franchise, as it gave the club a player with near-immediate impact potential as well as generational-star upside worthy of building around. Over seven seasons with the Nats, Harper -- a six-time All-Star and the 2015 NL MVP -- hit .279/.388/.512 with 184 homers in 927 games, good for a 27.4 WAR.

Aaron Nola, RHP, Phillies, 2014 (No. 7 overall)
Nola took his combination of solid stuff and outstanding command and made a beeline to Philadelphia, joining the rotation in just over a year following his selection. And the 25-year-old is just getting going, making his first All-Star team and finishing third in NL Cy Young Award voting in 2018.

NL Central

Keston Hiura, 2B, Brewers, 2017 (No. 9 overall)
The Brewers' track record with first-round picks isn't great, but Hiura could soon help reverse that trend. After leading all Division I hitters in average (.442) as a UC Irvine junior, Hiura raked his way up to Double-A this past season and then took home MVP honors in the prestigious Arizona Fall League. He still needs some more time in the Minors, but it shouldn't be long before Hiura is driving in runs from the middle of Milwaukee's order.

Jack Flaherty, RHP, 2014 (No. 34 overall)
The Cardinals have had some solid back-half-of-the-first-round selections, like Michael Wacha and Kolten Wong, but Flaherty made it to the big leagues in 2017, then finished fifth in NL Rookie of the Year voting in '18. Flaherty will be only 23 in 2019, so the best may be yet to come.

Kris Bryant, 3B, Cubs, 2013 (No. 2 overall)
Bryant had a stunning junior season at San Diego, swatting 31 homers to not only lead NCAA Division I but also topping 223 of the 296 teams at that level. He raced to the big leagues, winning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2015 and encoring with an NL MVP Award and World Series championship the next season.

Video: STL@CHC: Bryant belts a towering solo homer to center

Gerrit Cole, RHP, Pirates, 2011 (No. 1 overall)
Cole's 17.4 WAR is more than double any other Pirates' first-rounder in the last decade. Perhaps his tenure with Pittsburgh was up and down, but he made the All-Star team, finished fourth in NL Cy Young voting and made three postseason starts in 2015. He's also topped 200 innings in three of the last four years (albeit the last one coming for the Astros).

Mike Leake, RHP, Reds, 2009 (No. 8 overall)
Leake spent exactly zero days in the Minor Leagues between getting drafted and his Major League debut, breaking with the Reds' rotation on Opening Day in 2010. He's compiled more WAR than any Reds first-rounder in the last 10 years (15.6) and his trade to the Giants in 2015 netted them Adam Duvall (two years of 30-plus homers) and Keury Mella, who should contribute to the pitching staff in '19.

NL West

A.J. Pollock, OF, D-backs, 2009 (No. 17 overall)
When Pollock was coming out of Notre Dame, he was a solid college performer, but one who didn't have a plus tool, so some thought he might end up a bit of a tweener. There have been some injuries, but there's also been an All-Star appearance and a Gold Glove as an everyday center fielder, one who is currently coveted on the free-agent market.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers, 2012 (No. 18 overall)
After taking pitchers with their previous six first-round choices -- landing Clayton Kershaw and five non-impact big leaguers -- the Dodgers changed course and went for Seager, who was one of the better all-around high school bats but also came with some signability concerns in the first Draft with bonus-pool rules. He signed for $2.35 million ($400,000 above the assigned value at No. 18) and proved well worth it, earning the NL Rookie of the Year Award in 2016 and All-Star recognition in each of his two full big league seasons.

Zack Wheeler, RHP, Giants, 2009 (No. 6 overall)
He wasn't a cornerstone of World Series championships like Giants 2006-08 first-rounders Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey, but the guy who followed them has been a quality big league starter when healthy. Wheeler didn't last long with San Francisco, however, going to the Mets in a 2011 trade for Carlos Beltran.

Trea Turner, SS, Padres, 2014 (No. 13 overall)
Turner played the first half of his pro debut on borrowed time, as he'd already been dealt to the Nationals as part of a three-team trade with Tampa Bay (that netted the Padres Wil Myers) by the time the 2015 season began. He's emerged as one of the more impactful young players with the Nats.

Video: Draft 2014: Padres draft SS Trea Turner No. 13

Kyle Freeland, LHP, Rockies, 2014 (No. 8 overall)
The Rockies hoped for Kyle Schwarber or Nola, but the Cubs and Phillies foiled those plans and led them to Freeland, whose elbow worried some clubs because he had arthroscopic surgery as a Denver high schooler. He had bone chips removed from his elbow in 2015 but has been otherwise healthy, winning 11 games as a rookie in '17 and finishing fourth in NL Cy Young Award voting last season.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

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

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

Inbox: Who could replace J.T. if he's traded?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers fans' questions
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

In the event the Marlins do trade J.T. Realmuto, what are some likely options to replace him?
-- @StuckInJB772 via Twitter

Since the beginning of the Hot Stove season, Realmuto's status has been the hottest topic for the Marlins. His agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, told MLB Network Radio in October that his client was not interested in signing a contract extension. Realmuto has two more seasons remaining in arbitration before reaching free agency in 2021, and MLB.com has learned Miami has been prepared to make an offer with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $16 million for his free-agent years. That would be part of a five- or six-year deal that would start in 2021. That AAV lines up closely to Russell Martin's deal with the Blue Jays ($16.4 million AAV). At this point, it appears doubtful Realmuto will have a change of heart, and the 27-year-old is hoping to be traded.

In the event the Marlins do trade J.T. Realmuto, what are some likely options to replace him?
-- @StuckInJB772 via Twitter

Since the beginning of the Hot Stove season, Realmuto's status has been the hottest topic for the Marlins. His agent, Jeff Berry of CAA, told MLB Network Radio in October that his client was not interested in signing a contract extension. Realmuto has two more seasons remaining in arbitration before reaching free agency in 2021, and MLB.com has learned Miami has been prepared to make an offer with an average annual value (AAV) of at least $16 million for his free-agent years. That would be part of a five- or six-year deal that would start in 2021. That AAV lines up closely to Russell Martin's deal with the Blue Jays ($16.4 million AAV). At this point, it appears doubtful Realmuto will have a change of heart, and the 27-year-old is hoping to be traded.

The fact remains the Marlins are open to trading Realmuto, and the odds are probably that they will find a suitor. There's been recent speculation that he could go to the Mets, but other teams are in the mix. The asking price for Realmuto is very high, and that has not changed since October.

:: Submit a question to the Marlins Inbox ::

Say Miami finds a match and Realmuto is traded. The organization would have to explore the market for a regular catcher or at least a veteran to split time at the position. Bryan Holaday signed a Minor League deal on Monday, and he is a possibility to be the backup. But that isn't guaranteed either. Chad Wallach is on the 40-man roster, and he's a younger option who gained big league experience in 2018. There are plenty of veterans who could be available, but none of them are close to the level of Realmuto. A.J. Ellis, Martin Maldonado, Nick Hundley, Matt Wieters and Jonathan Lucroy are among the free agents.

Who are some possible options to help the offense that the Marlins can bring in this winter?
-- @kevinsantos1212 via Twitter

First base and corner outfield are positions that the club is exploring to fill. A potential depth option at first base was announced on Monday when Miami signed All-Star Pedro Alvarez to a Minor League deal. Matt Adams, Wilmer Flores and Logan Morrison are free agents to keep an eye on for first base. Flores was recently non-tendered by the Mets.

Jose Urena, Wei-Yin Chen, Pablo Lopez, Sandy Alcantara, Dan Straily, Trevor Richards and Caleb Smith make seven starting pitchers. How do you see the Marlins trimming this down to five by Opening Day? Will someone move to the bullpen?
-- @jason_beland via Twitter

On paper, it seems like potentially an easy decision. But so often the plans a team has entering Spring Training change course before Opening Day. Injuries and performances play a part. Assuming all are healthy, I anticipate Urena again being the Opening Day starter, and Straily probably being No. 2. As a lefty, Chen is a lock. Alcantara took strides late in the season, and he may be on the verge of cementing a spot, but that will be determined by his fastball command and progression of his secondary pitches. Richards showed promise as a rookie. Lopez was shut down at the end of the season due to a right shoulder issue, but he should be fine. Whether Smith will be ready is unclear. The left-hander had surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle. The good news is he is throwing, but there is a chance he won't be completely ready until Opening Day.

Video: MIA@NYM: Alcantara strikes out 10 in 7 solid innings

I don't see any of these starters moving to the bullpen. But I could see the club pursuing a veteran starter in free agency to help log innings, someone like Anibal Sanchez or Jeremy Hellickson.

Is Brian Anderson a guy who the Marlins can build around? In the first half, it seemed like yes, then it didn't.
-- Akivan, Miami Beach, Fla.

Anderson struggled in the second half, but he still had a very productive first full year in the big leagues. The 25-year-old finished fourth in the National League Rookie of the Year Award balloting. For the season, he hit .273 with 11 home runs and 65 RBIs. In 97 games before the All-Star break, Anderson hit .288/.363/.429, but after the break, his slash line was .245/.346/.349 in 59 games. Fatigue was an issue. That aside, Anderson is clearly a core player who may wind up playing either third base or right field. I wouldn't say he is a "face of the franchise" player, because that usually is an All-Star/MVP or Cy Young Award-caliber player. But I do think Anderson could be a 20-home run, 80-RBI player batting in the middle of the order.

Video: Brian Anderson brings versatile skills to the Marlins

I've heard great things about Victor Victor Mesa. If he does well in Spring Training, will he be given a chance to be in the Opening Day lineup, or will he need to go to the Minor Leagues, no matter what?
-- @aldo1229 via Twitter

The Marlins signed Mesa and his younger brother, Victor Mesa Jr., in October. Victor Victor, 22, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 1 prospect. The Cuban-born outfielder has been invited to big league camp, but he is not expected to be competing for an Opening Day spot with the Marlins. Regardless of how he performs in Spring Training, it will be an opportunity for the organization to evaluate Mesa and help him adapt to pro ball. Keep in mind, he hasn't played regularly in game situations for about a year. Mesa is said to be Double-A ready, but that doesn't mean he automatically will open at Jacksonville. He could start off at Class A Advanced Jupiter.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins, Brian Anderson, J.T. Realmuto

Mock draft: Who will the Marlins take at No. 4?

MLB.com @JonathanMayo

With MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects list out, all 30 teams should be ready to just have the Draft now, no?

OK, so maybe that's a tad premature, as most scouting departments will happily take the spring to continue to evaluate the top amateur talent available for the 2019 Draft. Teams won't truly try to line up their boards until much closer to June, but there is a good sense of who would be at the top if the Draft were today.

With MLB Pipeline's Top 50 Draft prospects list out, all 30 teams should be ready to just have the Draft now, no?

OK, so maybe that's a tad premature, as most scouting departments will happily take the spring to continue to evaluate the top amateur talent available for the 2019 Draft. Teams won't truly try to line up their boards until much closer to June, but there is a good sense of who would be at the top if the Draft were today.

:: 2019 Draft coverage ::

Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, after a huge junior season and a very strong stint with USA Baseball, has separated himself at the very top, while high school shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and Cal first baseman Andrew Vaughn aren't too far behind. Using that pairing to kick things off, here is a quick look at what the top 10 might look like. There are just two pitchers and eight hitters on the list, a reflection of what this class looks like at present.

One huge wild card not in this top 10 mock is Carter Stewart, the Braves' first-round pick from a year ago. If Stewart is healthy and goes on to East Florida State Junior College, as many expect, there's a good chance he'll show up in the top 10, if not the top five, of mock drafts this spring.

1. Orioles: Adley Rutschman, C, Oregon State
Rutschman is the complete package, with the ability to hit for average and power, along with outstanding defensive tools behind the plate. The last time the Orioles took a college catcher in the first round (Matt Wieters), it worked out pretty well.

Video: Draft Report: Adley Rutschman, college catcher

2. Royals: Bobby Witt Jr., Colleyville (Texas) Heritage HS
The son of the former big league pitcher, Witt Jr. has a fantastic combination of tools and makeup. He's fresh off winning MVP honors at the Pan American Championship in Panama, helping USA Baseball's 18 and Under squad bring home a gold medal.

3. White Sox: Andrew Vaughn, 1B, California
Vaughn won the Golden Spikes Award as a sophomore and might be the best all-around hitter in the class with an advanced approach, the ability to hit for average and plenty of in-game power. The White Sox have taken college bats in the first round in each of the last three drafts and haven't taken a high school player first since 2012.

Video: Draft Report: Andrew Vaughn, college first baseman

4. Marlins: Josh Jung, 3B, Texas Tech
The Marlins have been much more high school heavy at the top, taking a prepster No. 1 five years running. But the chance to add an advanced bat with pop like Jung's could be too difficult to pass up as he could quickly advance to play the hot corner in Miami.

5. Tigers: Graeme Stinson, LHP, Duke
It's a weak crop of pitching, particularly among the college ranks, but Stinson is poised to be the top college arm (or any arm in this scenario) selected with his plus fastball and slider. The Tigers have taken a pitcher with their first selection four years in a row and went the college route last June and in 2017.

6. Padres: C.J. Abrams, SS, Blessed Trinity HS (Roswell, Ga.)
One of the toolsiest players in the Draft, Abrams has tremendous speed and that, along with his plus arm, give him the chance to stick at shortstop. Combine that with some serious offensive upside, there's no question he belongs in top 10 conversations.

Video: Draft Report: C.J. Abrams, high school shortstop

7. Reds: Shea Langeliers, C, Baylor
Given his outstanding defensive skills and power potential, a strong spring could move Langeliers up higher than this as the 1A to Rutschman's 1 on the college catching list. The Reds have taken a college bat in the first round in four of the six previous drafts.

8. Rangers: Riley Greene, OF, Hagerty HS (Oviedo, Fla.)
An argument can be made that Greene is the best pure hitter in the Draft class, high school or college. He can flat out rake with a smooth left-handed swing, one that will produce plenty of power in the future. That corner outfield profile is sure to come off the board early.

9. Braves: Brennan Malone, RHP, IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
This is a compensation pick for the Braves not signing last year's first-rounder Carter Stewart. But don't expect that to mean Atlanta will be conservative here. The Braves don't shy away from high school pitching and Malone's combination of arm strength and velocity will be very intriguing.

Video: Draft Report: Brennan Malone, high school pitcher

10. Giants: Corbin Carroll, OF, Lakeside HS (Seattle, Wash.)
Carroll made as big a leap as anyone with his performances across several summer showcase events. He's one of the faster guys in the Draft, can really hit and has shown he has more pop than you'd think at first glance.

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

Marlins name 4 new coaches to finalize staff

Stottlemyre Jr. (pitching), Hillman (first base/infield) headline new hires
MLB.com @JoeFrisaro

MIAMI -- The Marlins announced in October that Don Mattingly would return for his fourth season as manager of the club. But it took until Wednesday to round out the rest of his staff.

The staff will include four additions -- Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (pitching), Trey Hillman (first base/infield), Jeff Livesey (assistant hitting) and Kevin Barr (strength and conditioning).

MIAMI -- The Marlins announced in October that Don Mattingly would return for his fourth season as manager of the club. But it took until Wednesday to round out the rest of his staff.

The staff will include four additions -- Mel Stottlemyre Jr. (pitching), Trey Hillman (first base/infield), Jeff Livesey (assistant hitting) and Kevin Barr (strength and conditioning).

Returning are Tim Wallach (bench), Mike Pagliarulo (hitting), Fredi Gonzalez (third base), Dean Treanor (bullpen), Brian Schneider (catching) and Rob Flippo (bullpen coordinator).

Video: Stottlemyre Jr. on joining Marlins as pitching coach

After finishing last in the National League East with a 63-98 record, the Marlins opted to make some changes to the staff. They did not renew the contracts of pitching coach Juan Nieves, first-base/infield coach Perry Hill, assistant hitting coach Frank Menechino as well as strength and conditioning coach Ty Hill.

"What was paramount with all of the staff members is they all are incredible teachers," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "I think that was something that was an important part of the search process. We looked to find the most experienced, the most knowledgeable. But on top of all that, just great teachers. As we continue to build our organization and add young talent, we wanted to make sure that we had great teachers."

Tweet from @Marlins: The Miami Marlins today announced the club���s Major League coaching staff for the 2019 season, including three coaches who are new to the organization. Bienvenidos a Miami! #OurColores pic.twitter.com/CEmkMhmdae

Stottlemyre, 54, spent the past three seasons as the pitching coach of the Mariners. During his tenure, Seattle ranked sixth in the American League in team ERA (4.19) and batting average against (.253). The Marlins have an abundance of young pitchers, and the organization is emphasizing fastball command. Miami's 4.76 ERA in 2018 ranked 25th in the Majors.

"Mel's resume speaks for itself," Hill said. "He definitely has a great sense of developing young pitchers and what a young pitcher needs to be successful at the Major League level. I think that definitely played a role in him becoming our newest pitching coach. We have a young roster of pitchers, with more coming."

Under Stottlemyre's guidance, the Mariners logged the seventh-most strikeouts in the AL (3,890) and the second-fewest walks (1,350), for a 2.88 strikeout/walk ratio. He also was the D-backs' pitching coach from 2009-10. Stottlemyre is the son of five-time MLB All-Star Mel Stottlemyre, and the older brother of former big league pitcher Todd Stottlemyre.

Hillman has familiarity working with Mattingly. From 2011-13, he was Mattingly's bench coach with the Dodgers.

Hillman adds big league managerial experience, with the Royals from 2008-10. The 55-year-old has the distinction of being the only person to manage in Japan (Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, 2003-07), Korea (SK Wyverns, 2014-18) and MLB. He also is the only manager to win a Korean Series title (2018) and a Japan Series title (2006).

Livesey, 52, spent the past five seasons as the Pirates' assistant hitting coach and 16 years total with the organization.

The Marlins finished last in the Majors in 2018 in runs scored (589), home runs (128) and slugging percentage (.357).

Barr was the Marlins' Minor League strength and conditioning coordinator in 2018, a role he also held in '01. In '17, he was the Dodgers' strength and conditioning consultant.

"I think familiarity brings names to the table when you talk about a potential applicant pool," Hill said. "The interview process was thorough, and we wanted to make sure we hired people who fit with where we're going and what we're doing."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

Miami Marlins