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Mets working on potential upgrade in center field

Source says Lagares on block; Realmuto talks won't impact search
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- Generally, three position players have dominated talk at the Winter Meetings. There is Bryce Harper, whose agent, Scott Boras, spent Wednesday touting the outfielder as one of the most valuable free agents in Major League history. There is Manny Machado, whose contract could rival that of Harper. Then there is J.T. Realmuto, whose status is placing at least some sort of freeze on the catching market.

Executives around the game are curious to see where Realmuto lands, whether New York or elsewhere. Once the Marlins trade him, if the Marlins trade him, other free-agent catchers could soon find homes.

LAS VEGAS -- Generally, three position players have dominated talk at the Winter Meetings. There is Bryce Harper, whose agent, Scott Boras, spent Wednesday touting the outfielder as one of the most valuable free agents in Major League history. There is Manny Machado, whose contract could rival that of Harper. Then there is J.T. Realmuto, whose status is placing at least some sort of freeze on the catching market.

Executives around the game are curious to see where Realmuto lands, whether New York or elsewhere. Once the Marlins trade him, if the Marlins trade him, other free-agent catchers could soon find homes.

That process could take hours, days or weeks. So while the Mets' interest in Realmuto remains real, they're not letting it stop them from attacking other areas of need.

Latest Hot Stove rumors

"I don't think we have to wait for a catching decision to impact any of the other moves that we would make," general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said.

To that end, the Mets have spent significant time in Las Vegas addressing their outfield situation. It's an area that's at least partly dependent upon Realmuto, given the possibility the Mets surrender Brandon Nimmo or Michael Conforto to get him. But it's not entirely dependent on what the Mets do at catcher. Even if Nimmo and Conforto both stay, the Mets have made it clear they would like to upgrade from Juan Lagares in center field.

Options there include A.J. Pollock, the top right-handed outfielder on the free-agent market, and Adam Jones, whose representatives met Wednesday with Van Wagenen. The Mets could also look to upgrade via the trade market.

Video: Adam Jones enters free agency after productive 2018

Right now, they're assessing all sorts of options. According to a source, they are also shopping around Lagares, who is due $9 million in the final year of his contract. If the Mets could package Lagares with a prospect as a way to shed salary, it would aid their other pursuits, while also clearing roster space for a superior hitter.

Lagares, who missed most of last season recovering from foot surgery, recently re-emerged in the Dominican Winter League, where he's batting .286 with a .905 OPS in five games for Aguilas. If the season started today, Van Wagenen said, Lagares would be the Mets' Opening Day center fielder, but the GM left open the possibility for roster moves between then and now.

Video: TOR@NYM: Lagares crashes into the wall for the catch

The other factor is Yoenis Cespedes, who could return around midseason, later than that or not at all. Van Wagenen said he has been honest with outfield candidates about Cespedes' status and role on the team, and how that might affect playing-time considerations once he returns.

Time will tell how everything meshes together. Although the Winter Meetings have been quiet for the Mets, that could change imminently in the outfield and elsewhere.

"As we've gone through the week, we have been really active," Van Wagenen said. "We have proposals out. We have offers out to teams. We have offers out to free agents. It's hard to say how those unfold here in the coming hours. We're not viewing the Winter Meetings as a scoreboard of how many transactions we complete. We're going to view it in terms of how productive the conversations were, and what we can do in the days and weeks ahead."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, Juan Lagares

Source: Mets front-runners to land Realmuto

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen insists that even with those players he is pursuing most ardently, there is "a walkaway point" he will not cross -- a point in which a potential deal stops making sense for the Mets.

He's just not there yet with J.T. Realmuto.

LAS VEGAS -- Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen insists that even with those players he is pursuing most ardently, there is "a walkaway point" he will not cross -- a point in which a potential deal stops making sense for the Mets.

He's just not there yet with J.T. Realmuto.

Multiple sources said the Mets remained steady Tuesday in their pursuit of Realmuto, the Marlins' All-Star catcher, on the second day of the Winter Meetings. One source said the Marlins consider the Mets the front-runners to land Realmuto, though Van Wagenen cautioned later in the day that "I wouldn't want to say we're making significant progress or close to anything."

"We've been really active," Van Wagenen said. "We're going to be as busy as possible and we're not going to have a lot of downtime."

Video: Ken Rosenthal: Mets pushing the hardest for Realmuto

While the Mets are exploring upgrades both in the outfield and their bullpen, catching remains a priority at the Winter Meetings. In addition to their Realmuto talks, the club met in person with free agent Wilson Ramos, among other backstops. Yasmani Grandal and Martin Maldonado also remain options for the Mets, as do a slew of potential trade targets.

But the grandest prize is Realmuto, whom many consider the best catcher in baseball after he hit .277 with 21 homers and an .825 OPS. Realmuto's agent, Jeff Berry, has been vocal in saying his client won't sign an extension with the rebuilding Marlins, lighting a fire under Miami's front office to complete a trade.

Wright advising Mets' brain trust at Meetings

Still, Realmuto won't come cheap; one source with knowledge of the trade talks said Amed Rosario alone wouldn't be enough to land him. Noah Syndergaard likely would, whether in a regular deal or a three-team trade, but multiple sources poured cold water on the notion that the Mets are about to complete a multiteam blockbuster.

Other options for Miami include outfielders Brandon Nimmo and Michael Conforto. The former will make less money next season and is under team control for four more years, making him a more likely target for the Marlins than the latter. Yet Van Wagenen will tread carefully. While he did not dismiss the idea of trading big league talent in a deal for Realmuto, Van Wagenen made it clear he would not do so unless the deal clearly makes the Mets better in 2019.

Video: Callaway on catching help, Thor and new GM

"If we're going to move any player of significance off our current roster," Van Wagenen said, "it's going to put us in a position to win more games [next] year."

Of course, the Mets can add players without giving up talent through free agency, which appears to be their method of choice to upgrade the outfield and bullpen. New York remains a prime landing spot for free-agent outfielder A.J. Pollock, as well as for relievers Andrew Miller and David Robertson. When manager Mickey Callaway was asked Tuesday what his recruiting pitch would be for Miller, whom he coached in Cleveland, the manager replied: "You're really good and we need you."

The Mets feel similarly about Realmuto, even as they continue to talk up in-house options Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.

"I think after last season we need to get better at the catcher position," Callaway said. "We're taking a lot of steps with the guys we have in our organization currently to improve. And I know that Brodie is out there looking at external options to help our team improve. But we definitely need to get better."

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Wright advising Mets' brain trust at Meetings

Captain serving as sounding board for Van Wagenen, front office
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- David Wright has found a new role, at least temporarily, now that his playing days have come to an end.

Wright is at this year's Winter Meetings on the invitation of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who asked the longtime third baseman to attend as a sounding board for the front office. In Las Vegas, Wright is spending time with team officials who are discussing, among other things, trades involving J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard. Having played against the former and alongside the latter, Wright can offer a unique perspective on those and other ideas.

LAS VEGAS -- David Wright has found a new role, at least temporarily, now that his playing days have come to an end.

Wright is at this year's Winter Meetings on the invitation of general manager Brodie Van Wagenen, who asked the longtime third baseman to attend as a sounding board for the front office. In Las Vegas, Wright is spending time with team officials who are discussing, among other things, trades involving J.T. Realmuto and Noah Syndergaard. Having played against the former and alongside the latter, Wright can offer a unique perspective on those and other ideas.

Video: David Wright's first and last Major League hits

Wright is also one of the longest-tenured members of the organization in any role, joining the Mets as a first-round Draft pick in 2001.

"David is about as special of a guy as you can have," Van Wagenen said. "We're building this organization around people. I want to have people who can give me insight into what's important in a teammate, what's important in bullpen arms that he's faced, what does he want to see in lineup construction. So he's an invaluable source for me to be able to give me a perspective that I never want to lose touch with, which is the player perspective."

It remains to be seen if this will blossom into a longer-term advisory role for the Mets. Since playing for the final time in September, Wright has spent most of his time at home in Los Angeles with his wife and two young daughters. He has shown little interest in coaching or television opportunities, though that could change as time passes.

Technically, Wright is still on the Mets' 40-man roster. The team is negotiating a deal with its insurance company that would allow it to release Wright, who is still owed $37 million over the final two years of his guaranteed contract. The Mets are recouping around 75 percent of that total through insurance, but they must keep him on the active roster to continue collecting that money. They may be able to pay the insurance company a premium that would allow them to free up a 40-man spot.

The Mets' all-time leader in hits, runs, RBIs, doubles and many other categories, Wright has played in just 77 games the past two seasons as back, neck and shoulder injuries forced a premature end to his career.

Infield intrigue
The Mets' recent trade for Robinson Cano made Jeff McNeil a man without a defensive home. According to manager Mickey Callaway, that isn't likely to change anytime soon.

Callaway said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings that McNeil won't challenge Todd Frazier for the everyday third-base job, and that he'll instead vie for backup time at as many as six different positions. Among those are shortstop and the corner outfield, which McNeil played on an extremely limited basis in the Minors last season.

"I think you're going to get to see him in the lineup often," Callaway said, noting that starting shortstop Amed Rosario and Frazier will both receive regular rest. "We want his bat in the lineup. He can hit. He's going to put the ball in play."

Still, Callaway said he won't consider starting McNeil, who hit .329 with three home runs in 63 games as a rookie, over Frazier, who batted .213 with 18 home runs.

"As we stand here," Callaway said, "Todd Frazier is going to be standing at third base and getting the opportunity to continue to earn that position."

Lineup taking shape
Assuming Brandon Nimmo isn't included in an offseason trade, Callaway said Nimmo will lead off for the Mets and Cano will hit third. Nimmo is an obvious choice to bat first for the Mets after posting a .404 on-base percentage last year.

"Nimmo was our ideal leadoff hitter," Callaway said, calling the Mets' late-season use of Rosario in that spot a developmental tool. "Starting a new season, Nimmo needs to be leadoff."

Those lineup preferences make it more important for the Mets to acquire a right-handed bat this winter, lest they stack three consecutive left-handed hitters -- Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Cano -- atop their lineup.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets, David Wright

Bid on Mets items in charity auction

MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

LAS VEGAS -- Few teams hold closer ties to Jackie Robinson than the Mets, the National League's replacement franchise for Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers. To honor that heritage, the Mets built the Jackie Robinson Rotunda into Citi Field, constructing a shrine for the Hall of Famer complete with a larger-than-life No. 42 sculpture in the middle.

Now, the Mets are offering fan experiences at Citi Field as part of Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings auction. This year's event 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 -- Few teams hold closer ties to Jackie Robinson than the Mets, the National League's replacement franchise for Robinson's Brooklyn Dodgers. To honor that heritage, the Mets built the Jackie Robinson Rotunda into Citi Field, constructing a shrine for the Hall of Famer complete with a larger-than-life No. 42 sculpture in the middle.

Now, the Mets are offering fan experiences at Citi Field as part of Major League Baseball's annual Winter Meetings auction. This year's event 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 Mets charity auction

Among the Mets items up for bidding are:

• A suite night at Citi Field, including 20 tickets to a game, four parking passes, 20 Mets hats, up to eight batting practice passes and a $500 food credit.

• A Citi Field experience complete with the opportunity to throw out a ceremonial first pitch, deliver the lineup card with Mets manager Mickey Callaway, sit in on Callaway's pregame and postgame press conferences, and watch the game from the press box and photo booth.

• A game-day experience including four Delta Club seats behind home plate, free parking, food and drink, four batting practice passes, a meet-and-greet with Callaway and select Mets players, and a tour of the home clubhouse area.

The auction is live on MLB.com/wintermeetingsauction from now through Thursday, when it will conclude at 10 p.m. ET. Items from all 30 teams include special baseball experiences, meet-and-greets with some of the game's biggest stars and unique items donated by MLB and its clubs.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

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.

Van Wagenen poised to make moves at WM

Mets seek right-handed bat, catcher and at least one reliever
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- As if the Mets needed help making headlines this offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen is about to descend upon Las Vegas for his first Winter Meetings as a general manager. The last time Van Wagenen entered a forum like this, at the GM Meetings in early November in California, he sowed the seeds for the Robinson Cano trade that occurred one month later. There's no telling what might happen next week, when Van Wagenen inhabits the same Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino as 29 other GMs and dozens of agents.

Even after acquiring Cano and Edwin Diaz, Van Wagenen knows his team needs help. The bullpen and lineup are incomplete; to that end, Van Wagenen has spent the past few weeks overturning every stone he can to fix them. His early ideas have been both traditional and unorthodox. His methods have been both creative and aggressive.

NEW YORK -- As if the Mets needed help making headlines this offseason, Brodie Van Wagenen is about to descend upon Las Vegas for his first Winter Meetings as a general manager. The last time Van Wagenen entered a forum like this, at the GM Meetings in early November in California, he sowed the seeds for the Robinson Cano trade that occurred one month later. There's no telling what might happen next week, when Van Wagenen inhabits the same Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino as 29 other GMs and dozens of agents.

Even after acquiring Cano and Edwin Diaz, Van Wagenen knows his team needs help. The bullpen and lineup are incomplete; to that end, Van Wagenen has spent the past few weeks overturning every stone he can to fix them. His early ideas have been both traditional and unorthodox. His methods have been both creative and aggressive.

Video: Wilpon discusses Mets' 7-player trade, Van Wagenen

The Winter Meetings will give Van Wagenen a chance to showcase those qualities once again, at a time of year that typically sees the Hot Stove begin to boil. With that in mind, here's a look at what the Mets hope to accomplish Monday through Thursday in Las Vegas:

Club needs 
A right-handed bat, a catcher and at least one reliever. The Mets have an outfield vacancy after trading Jay Bruce, and they will look to fill it with a right-handed hitter -- perhaps A.J. Pollock, in whom they've already expressed interest. While J.T. Realmuto trade rumors figure to dominate the catching landscape, the Mets will look into free agent Martin Maldonado as well. As far as the bullpen goes, the Mets know their trade for Diaz wasn't enough. Ideally, the Mets will sign a top free agent to serve as Diaz's setup man -- Andrew Miller, David Robertson and Adam Ottavino are just three of the multitude they'll consider.

Hot Stove Tracker

Whom might they trade? 
If Van Wagenen's opening salvo was any indication, the answer to that is probably "anyone." Realistically, Noah Syndergaard isn't going anywhere. But if Brandon Nimmo or Amed Rosario could go in a deal for Realmuto, as has been rumored, then it's hard to see many in the organization being off-limits.

Video: Rosenthal on the Mets pushing to trade for Realmuto

Prospects to know
After trading away third- and fourth-ranked prospects Jarred Kelenic and Justin Dunn, the Mets have a few gems left in their system. One is top-ranked shortstop Andres Gimenez, a 20-year-old unlikely to make an impact in 2019. It's possible the Mets could look to deal him. Another is first baseman Peter Alonso, who figures to play a significant role in the big leagues next season. Keep an eye also on Nos. 26 and 28 prospects Eric Hanhold and Bobby Wahl, who debuted late this year and could become key bullpen contributors in '19.

Video: Top Prospects: Andres Gimenez, SS, Mets

Rule 5 Draft 
The Mets declined to protect any of their eligible prospects from Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, knowing they aren't at high risk of losing any important long-term pieces. It's possible they could select someone, but while they have a few vacancies on their 40-man roster, the Mets figure to fill those spots quickly with free-agent and trade acquisitions. If they can strike a deal with their insurance company that would allow them to release David Wright, who's currently occupying a 40-man spot, they'll have a bit more wiggle room.

Payroll summary 
For a hyperactive Mets front office, this is the (multi)million-dollar question. Currently, the Mets are on the hook for about $130 million, using MLB Trade Rumors' arbitration projections. They began this past season with a little more than $150 million in commitments, and chief operating officer Jeff Wilpon has since said that he considers the payroll "wide open." How high could it go? The Mets are likely to at least match 2018's total. Beyond that, only Wilpon, Van Wagenen and the Mets' highest-ranking staff members know for sure.

One other factor is Wright's $15 million salary, which is included in the figure above. The Mets are recouping around 75 percent of that via insurance, and Wilpon has said they will invest at least some of it back into payroll. Exactly how much remains to be seen, though Van Wagenen has admitted the Mets would need to be extremely creative to find the budget for top free agents Bryce Harper or Manny Machado -- in other words, that's a place they're probably not going.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Mets round out coaching staff with three hires

Davis, Hernandez fill hitting, pitching coach vacancies; Rojas named inaugural quality control coach
MLB.com

LAS VEGAS -- In finalizing their coaching staff, the Mets have added a position that has become popular around baseball, but that had not previously been a part of their mix in Flushing. The club on Sunday promoted Luis Rojas to the newly created position of quality control coach, and also announced the hires of hitting coach Chili Davis and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez.

Those three round out an eight-man staff that also includes bench coach Jim Riggleman, pitching coach Dave Eiland, first-base coach Glenn Sherlock, third-base coach Gary DiSarcina and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater.

LAS VEGAS -- In finalizing their coaching staff, the Mets have added a position that has become popular around baseball, but that had not previously been a part of their mix in Flushing. The club on Sunday promoted Luis Rojas to the newly created position of quality control coach, and also announced the hires of hitting coach Chili Davis and bullpen coach Chuck Hernandez.

Those three round out an eight-man staff that also includes bench coach Jim Riggleman, pitching coach Dave Eiland, first-base coach Glenn Sherlock, third-base coach Gary DiSarcina and assistant hitting coach Tom Slater.

"We are very excited with what we believe to be a well-rounded coaching staff with experience, extensive knowledge and strong instruction and assistance abilities," Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen said in a statement. "Our players will benefit greatly throughout 2019."

Rojas, 37, has been a Minor League manager since 2011, most recently at Double-A Binghamton. In his new role, he "will be in uniform and will serve as a conduit between the front office and coaching staff on all issues including game preparation, strategy and analytics," according to a team release. That type of position is typical on NFL staffs and has become increasingly popular among MLB teams including the Cubs, Dodgers and Cardinals in recent years.

"Brodie and I spent a lot of time finding the right mix of coaches," Mets manager Mickey Callaway said in a statement. "We're especially glad to add an additional coach to the staff keeping pace with the industry standard."

Davis, 58, replaces Pat Roessler, whom the Mets dismissed in November. He becomes their fifth hitting coach in six seasons; since dismissing Dave Hudgens, who went on to win a World Series with the Astros three years later, the Mets have cycled through Lamar Johnson, Kevin Long and Roessler.

A former star slugger for the Giants, Angels and three other teams, Davis has served as a hitting coach for the A's, Red Sox and Cubs.

Hernandez, 58, was the pitching coach in Atlanta from 2017-18 and Miami from 2013-15. He has also worked for the Indians, Tigers, Rays, Angels and the University of South Florida. Hernandez takes over from Ricky Bones, who is weighing job opportunities both inside and outside of the Mets organization.

Combined with Riggleman, who is also a new hire, the coaches give Callaway a fresh mix in his second season in the dugout. Mets officials have bemoaned the fact that entering last season, neither Callaway nor any of his coaches possessed any big league managerial experience.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

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 for run production. More >

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.

Chad Thornburg is a reporter for MLB.com.

Mets hire Red Sox's Banner as farm director

Brooklyn native is second former Boston executive to join NY front office
MLB.com @AnthonyDiComo

NEW YORK -- The Mets continued their infiltration of the Red Sox's front office on Friday, hiring away another top executive from the World Series champions. A week after bringing on longtime Sox executive Allard Baird to be an assistant general manager under Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets named Jared Banner as their new farm director.

A Brooklyn native who reportedly grew up a Mets fan, Banner, 32, is an Amherst College graduate with more than a decade of experience in the Red Sox's front office. He has been in a player development role since 2009, overseeing the paths of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and others to the big leagues. He is also reportedly close to Baird.

NEW YORK -- The Mets continued their infiltration of the Red Sox's front office on Friday, hiring away another top executive from the World Series champions. A week after bringing on longtime Sox executive Allard Baird to be an assistant general manager under Brodie Van Wagenen, the Mets named Jared Banner as their new farm director.

A Brooklyn native who reportedly grew up a Mets fan, Banner, 32, is an Amherst College graduate with more than a decade of experience in the Red Sox's front office. He has been in a player development role since 2009, overseeing the paths of Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Xander Bogaerts and others to the big leagues. He is also reportedly close to Baird.

"I'm excited to continue to invest in the front office with personnel that have a championship pedigree," Van Wagenen said in a statement released by the team. "We are looking to build the organization to achieve consistent success by incorporating new members and promoting from within."

The Mets also promoted director of player development Ian Levin to senior director, baseball operations. Levin and director of Minor League operations Ronny Reyes have overseen the development of Brandon Nimmo, Michael Conforto and Amed Rosario, among others.

Banner's hiring is the latest step in Van Wagenen's front-office overhaul. Since the former agent's hire, the team has brought in two new assistant GMs in Baird and analytics expert Adam Guttridge, as well as a new farm director in Banner. One top-ranking Mets executive, J.P. Ricciardi, is reportedly close to securing a similar position with the Giants, while another, Omar Minaya, is staying on staff. The Mets have been tight-lipped about the future of longtime assistant GM John Ricco, who remains on staff for now.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.

New York Mets

Alonso 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.

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.