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MLB winter meetings are here

The baseball world has gathered in Maryland

MLB: Winter Meetings Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Now that the collective bargaining agreement has been signed, sealed and delivered, the baseball offseason is free to continue as planned, which means the winter meetings will be more than just minor league meetings and an industry job fair.

Team executives and agents, managers and even some players will all be in place by Sunday at the Gaylord National Hotel in National Harbor, Maryland, just south of Washington D.C.

The issues and needs for the Dodgers remain the same, with Rich Hill reportedly “closing in” on a return to the team, who would ideally like free agents Justin Turner and Kenley Jansen to follow his lead.

Second base is a major question mark, with free agent Chase Utley the fallback if the Dodgers can’t land a trade target like Ian Kinsler, Brian Dozier or Logan Forsythe.

Yasiel Puig’s name is sure to be brought up, as it always is.

There is no set schedule, so deals could come at any time, and with the event on the east coast there is sure to be some 5 a.m. PT transaction news breaking over the four days. That’s just how it works.

MLB Network will have over 35 hours of live on-site coverage, but part of that is the incessant screaming of Chris Russo on High Heat, so adjust accordingly.

ESPN will have nightly episodes of Baseball Tonight at 3:30 p.m. PT and 9 p.m. daily from Monday through Wednesday.

For more localized coverage, SportsNet LA will have live hour-long shows at 7 p.m. each night.

Rule 5 Draft

On getaway day at the winter meetings, on Thursday — bright and early at 6 a.m. PT, too — is the Rule 5 draft, where teams can try to pluck experienced minor leaguers not on a 40-man roster, all for the low, low price of $50,000, if they think he will stick on their active major league roster.

Recent Rule 5 success stories include Odubel Herrera (Rangers to Phillies in 2014) and Delino DeShields, Jr. (Astros to Rangers, also in 2014), among others.

Potential exposed Dodgers who could be taken include pitcher Ralston Cash and outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo, as well as high-priced Cubans Yaisel Sierra and Erisbel Arruebarrena if another team wants to assume their contract(s).

The Dodgers at the moment have 39 players on their 40-man, and if that is still true on Thursday they would be allowed to participate in the Rule 5 Draft. Even if they don’t plan on picking someone to keep, it is possible they could draft someone to trade.z

There is also the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, which is less restrictive than the major league portion, in that these players can be freely moved around the minors all year. Last year the Dodgers took five players in the minor league portion of the Rule 5 Draft, most notably Logan Bawcom, who posted a 1.92 ERA in 89 innings in a swing role with Triple-A Oklahoma City in 2016.