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Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings are nearly upon us, with the events to be held on Dec. 8-11 in San Diego, California.

With front-office personnel and executives present from all 30 teams, the winter meetings typically produce both high-profile free-agent signings and blockbuster trades. And with every team evaluating their rosters for the 2015 season, prospects are often the deciding factor when it comes to an offseason deal.

In recent years, we’ve seen more and more teams be willing to trade their top prospects, like when the Royals dealt Wil Myers and Jake Odorizzi to the Rays prior to the 2013 season, which was also the same offseason that the Blue Jays sent Noah Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud to the Mets.

And even though the deals that transpired last offseason didn’t involve as many big-name prospects, we still saw numerous highly regarded young talents, such as Matt Davidson, Michael Choice, Jesse Hahn and Robbie Ray, get moved in exchange for veteran players.

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At some point, the New York Yankees were going to have to sign or trade for a shortstop to replace Derek Jeter.

On Friday, the Bronx Bombers landed a potential long-term replacement for The Captain, acquiring Didi Gregorius from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of a three-team trade with the Detroit Tigers, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

Though the Yankees were forced to part with right-hander Shane Greene, the hope is that the 24-year-old Gregorius, who will remain under team control through 2019, will be able to hold down the position for the next five years.

But with such big shoes to fill, are the Yankees asking too much of Gregorius?

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Although they usually don’t feature the same combination of big-ticket prospects and all-around depth as the Arizona Fall League, the various international winter leagues at least offer those of us going through offseason prospect withdrawal a temporary fix.

Compared to previous years, there are fewer top-ranked prospects participating in winter leagues this year. But as the countdown to spring training begins, it’s possible that more players will join the leagues as they look to get a head start on the 2014 season and hopefully improve their chances of making an Opening Day roster.

However, before next week’s winter meetings take center stage, I wanted to give an update on the performance of each team’s top prospect who has been playing in an offseason league.

For the sake of presentation, here is how the four main winter leagues will be identified in this article:

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“Who would you rather have: Yasmany Tomas or Yoan Moncada?” has become a popular question over the last month, mostly because so little is known about them outside the industry, but also because they are two completely different types of players at different developmental stages in their respective careers.

Tomas, who recently signed a six-year, $68.5 million contract with the Arizona Diamondbacks, is more of a known commodity after playing parts of five seasons in Cuba’s Serie Nacional and starring in international tournaments such as the World Baseball Classic.

The 24-year-old outfielder has been glorified for his sheer strength and prodigious power and is expected to make an immediate impact hitting in the middle of Arizona's lineup.

And then there’s Moncada, a 19-year-old infielder who has emerged as one of the more hyped prospects in recent memory and seems poised to command a record-setting signing bonus for an international amateur.

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At this time last year, the baseball world was wondering whether Japan’s Rakuten Golden Eagles would post star pitcher Masahiro Tanaka for the 2014 season.

They did, and the New York Yankees invested in the right-hander’s future with a monster seven-year, $155 million contract after a winning bid of $20 million to secure negotiating rights. Tanaka, meanwhile, went on to surpass all reasonable expectations with a dominant rookie campaign, albeit one that was shortened due to a right elbow injury.

Teams that came up short in the Tanaka sweepstakes may have a chance this offseason to land the next big-name pitcher to come out of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball, Kenta Maeda, though that depends on whether his team, the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, decide to make him available via the posting system.

Should that happen, the 26-year-old would be one of the most sought-after pitchers on the market, especially after he allowed two hits over five scoreless innings against accomplished MLB hitters in last month’s Japan All-Star Series.

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With the overwhelming failure rate of prospects, teams can only be so patient or forgiving with their young players. However, they tend to be more lenient when that player is a former top draft pick or international signee given the amount of money originally invested as well as the pride at stake.

Heading into the 2015, there are several former top prospects on the verge of falling out of the long-term picture with their respective organizations. And for many of them, the upcoming season may be their final chance to turn the developmental corner and avoid becoming merely a “what could have been” player.

Here’s a look at three once highly-regarded prospects facing a make-or-break season in 2015.

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Giancarlo Stanton and the Miami Marlins made sports history earlier this month when the two sides agreed to an unprecedented 13-year, $325 million contract extension through 2027.

While Miami’s decision to offer Stanton, the runner-up in the voting for the 2014 National League Most Valuable Player Award, a contract of that magnitude may seem obscene, it also represented the organization’s only opportunity to lock him up long term. After all, it’s not as though 80-grade power grows on trees these days.

In general, teams have been more willing to give multiyear extensions to young players in the last two seasons, and especially to guys who made an immediate impact after reaching the major leagues and are likely to become increasingly costly once eligible for arbitration.

That was the driving force behind the Angels’ decision to offer Mike Trout a six-year, $144.5 million contract extension last spring, as they essentially bought out his arbitration years while also securing subsequent years at a reasonable price.

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The Arizona Fall League may be over, but the other notable offseason leagues, such as the Dominican, Puerto Rican and Venezuelan Winter Leagues, are in the middle of their respective regular seasons, with the postseason still roughly a few months away.

It also means that players in each of the aforementioned leagues have played roughly the same number of games, providing consistent sample sizes on which to evaluate and compare prospects.

So here is a look at a hypothetical All-Star team, comprised of the top performer at each position from this year's fall and winter leagues.

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Bill Kostroun/Associated Press

Whether you love it or hate it, the implementation of the qualifying offer under Major League Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement has undeniably changed both free agency and the First-Year Player Draft.

For some teams, signing a free agent with a qualifying offer simply isn’t worth sacrificing a future draft pick; for others, it’s incentive to at least consider extending an offer to notable free agents.

This year’s free-agency period has already impacted the 2015 draft, as the New York Mets (No. 15 overall) and Toronto Blue Jays (No. 17) lost their respective first-round picks as a result of signing Michael Cuddyer and Russell Martin. On the flip side, the signings awarded the Colorado Rockies and Pittsburgh Pirates compensatory picks after the first round, giving both teams a better chance to build for the future or add to what’s already in place.

Next year’s draft order has already changed and will continue to over the offseason, albeit subtly, but here’s an early look at several teams poised to turn free-agent losses into draft gains.

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A case can be made that this year’s most intriguing free agent isn’t Max Scherzer or Jon Lester.

Rather, it’s Yoan Moncada, who has dominated the headlines of late, as Major League Baseball officially declared him a free agent on Nov. 15, according to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com. However, the 19-year-old Cuban infielder won’t be free to sign until the United States Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) clears him.

Moncada, whose open workout in Guatemala earlier this month was seen by an "estimated 60-70 scouts," per Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, has quickly emerged as one of the more hyped prospects in recent memory and is expected to destroy the record for spending on an amateur player.

According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Moncada is expected to receive $30 to $40 million, putting him in the same range as fellow Cubans Yoenis Cespedes ($36 million) and Yasiel Puig ($42 million).