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Inbox: Which young players will step up in '19?

Beat reporter Thomas Harding answers Colorado fans' questions
MLB.com

DENVER -- The first offseason installment of the Rockies Inbox is chock full of questions about players who could be making an impact in 2019.

DENVER -- The first offseason installment of the Rockies Inbox is chock full of questions about players who could be making an impact in 2019.

Tweet from @colohockeygirl: I have 2 pitcher questions. Is Estevez expected to be healthy and part of the team next year? Also, what happened to Hoffman? I was kind of surprised he wasn���t called up at the end of the year when the Rox were desperate for a fill-in starter.

Carlos Estevez suffered a couple of freak injuries -- an oblique strain when he bent to pick up a ball while playing catch in Spring Training and a right elbow strain when he pushed to get up off the bench after pitching in a game at Albuquerque. He was healthy enough to finish the Triple-A season, but his strike-throwing was not at a level that justified a callup.

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As for Jeff Hoffman, after seeing his decidedly mixed performance in the Major League bullpen, the Rockies judged him to strictly be a starter. Hoffman had a mixed second half at Albuquerque (6.06 ERA but with several stellar performances), and when the Minor League season ended in early September, there wasn't a spot for him in the rotation. When they were short a starter on Sept. 25, that was way after Hoffman's season had ended so they went with Chad Bettis in the 10-3 win over the Phillies.

Both pitchers will be expected to compete for the Opening Day roster next season. Going into 2018, Estevez had one Minor League option and Hoffman had two. The official MLB ruling on options for next season will be made after the World Series.

Tweet from @CharlieDrysdale: What's the plan with Tapia in 19? Has only 1 option left, had 27 PA's in 25 games. Was a top 100 prospect by Prospectus 4 years in a row. Has a career MiLB avg of .319. Finished this season with same OPS+ as Parra.

Once the Rockies signed Carlos Gonzalez in March, Raimel Tapia's opportunity to break into the regular lineup to start the season disappeared, then David Dahl emerged and surpassed him. Whatever the OPS+ comparison over Gerardo Parra's full season and Tapia's partial one, Parra slashed .292/.469/.417 in his 24 plate appearances as a substitute in the second half and earned trust in those situations.

Do the Rockies go back to Parra or even Gonzalez as an outfield bench bat? It's a similar situation to the one at the starting second base job; do you go with a veteran or turn it over to Tapia after years of development in the system? For his part, Tapia is working to become stronger and faster for next season.

Tweet from @JWMountain1: Does Brendan Rodgers make a meaningful impact in 19? Does he make the opening day roster or begin the year in Albuquerque?

The guess here is Brendan Rodgers, the Rockies' No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, would begin next season in Triple-A, unless he becomes Trevor Story of 2016 in Spring Training and forces a decision. Rodgers had an excellent performance at Double-A Hartford, but recurring hamstring issues slowed his performance at Albuquerque and kept him out of the Arizona Fall League.

Tweet from @SamCampfield: Can you please inform us about the Rockies TV deal. It's been one of the worst in baseball. Any chance that changes it improves soon? RSN's are one of the most important things in baseball and I'd love to learn more about the Rockies position.

The Rockies' television deal runs through 2020. And to your point about its worth, here is a 2016 Fangraphs article that ranks the clubs' television contracts by estimated revenue for the club. The Rays, listed below the Rockies by Fangraphs, have since signed a new contract.

If current trends hold, the Rockies and several other teams with expiring TV deals could see revenue bumps, in part because MLB has been a leader in technology and viewership trends.

Tweet from @JJGill7: I���m a season ticket holder. I���ve called inquiring whether we���ll see ticket price increases. I���m willing if we lock Nolan longterm and sign DJ asap. Any ���insider��� info???

My job would be a heck of a lot easier if I sat in on their meetings. But could a potential new TV deal mentioned above make signing Nolan Arenado to a multi-year deal possible? Certainly. To me, DJ LeMahieu comes down to the Rockies deciding if they want to compete on the market or if they feel comfortable turning over second base to Garrett Hampson. It's always a decision in a draft-and-develop organization.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter and like his Facebook page.

Colorado Rockies, Jeff Hoffman, Gerardo Parra, Raimel Tapia

Inbox: Will Realmuto be with Marlins in '19?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from Miami fans
MLB.com

If J.T. Realmuto doesn't sign an extension, will he be traded [next] season or will the Marlins wait until 2020 to trade him?
-- @patrick_rotella

What's next for Realmuto will be the top Hot Stove storyline for the Marlins, because many believe the All-Star catcher will not agree to an extension. In my opinion, for that to change, the Marlins must present to the 27-year-old a path to contending within the next two years. Otherwise, they probably should look to make a trade.

If J.T. Realmuto doesn't sign an extension, will he be traded [next] season or will the Marlins wait until 2020 to trade him?
-- @patrick_rotella

What's next for Realmuto will be the top Hot Stove storyline for the Marlins, because many believe the All-Star catcher will not agree to an extension. In my opinion, for that to change, the Marlins must present to the 27-year-old a path to contending within the next two years. Otherwise, they probably should look to make a trade.

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Realmuto has two more years left in arbitration before he qualifies for free agency. He is reaching his prime at a time the Marlins appear to still be a few years away from seriously contending. But, if the team expresses to him that by 2020 it can be knocking on the door for a playoff spot, and the contract offer is right, then perhaps Realmuto commits long-term to Miami.

That said, the Marlins likely will still explore trade scenarios this offseason to see what may be out there. Like last offseason, if something makes sense, the front office will consider it. Either way, Realmuto promises to be a prominent name to follow once free agency and trades pick up after the World Series. Potential trading partners could be the Yankees, who have said they will keep Gary Sanchez, Astros and Nationals.

Who's the next prospect you foresee being someone worth watching aside from the ones you have mentioned this year?
-- @rla1999

I'm going to give you two right-handed relievers, and both are currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Keep an eye on Tommy Eveld and Chad Smith.

Acquired from the D-backs in July for Brad Ziegler, Eveld is a 6-foot-5, 24-year-old. He's a towering figure with a mid-90s fastball. In some ways, he draws comparisons to current Miami reliever Drew Steckenrider, a rangy, right-hander with a heavy fastball. Eveld likely will open next year at Triple-A New Orleans. His combined Minor League numbers were a 1.07 ERA in 50 1/3 innings with 61 strikeouts and 11 walks.

Smith, 23, was an 11th-round pick in 2016 by the Marlins from the University of Mississippi. He had 45 strikeouts in 35 1/3 innings at Class A Advanced Jupiter. On Wednesday night in the Arizona Fall League, his fastball was between 94-99 mph.

Any word on the potential logo change and what it will mean for the 2019 season?
-- @luisrdavi

We've known for some time that Marlins ownership has been planning to rebrand the logo and uniforms for 2019, and an unveiling could take place sometime next month. In many ways, this was an evaluation year for the new ownership, as it assessed every department from top to bottom. As we saw, orange was largely phased out after Spring Training. The team didn't wear the color once in the regular season.

Video: Michael Hill on the Marlins building for the future

An official rebranding is expected sometime in November, after the World Series and before Thanksgiving. Exact details remain to be seen, but the Marlins have been gathering feedback from fans through their Dimelo (Talk to Me) program. The input from fans is being factored into whatever the final logo will be, including colors, design and what type of font is used. Many fans are wondering if teal, which was prominent in the early years of the franchise, will make a comeback. I wouldn't be surprised if it does, but I don't know if it will be the primary color.

Will the Marlins look into the possibility of signing Manny Machado?
-- @bsschiller

As much as I'd like to see the Marlins bring in more players from South Florida, it's also important that they are the right fit. Despite being a Miami native, Machado will hit free agency likely wanting to be on a contender, not with a team in the second year of a building process.

The timing isn't right for the organization to pursue a free agent expected to sign for more than $250 million. Such a deal is way too risky for the Marlins, who are still in the process of trying to work out a new local television deal with Fox Sports Florida. Also, a naming rights partner isn't expected until 2020, at the earliest. So, there aren't those revenue streams at this point to justify spending so heavily on one All-Star, when the club is more than a player away from seriously contending.

[Is] Drew Steckenrider the early favorite for closer?
-- @DavidMarcillo77

I'd say that's a safe assumption, especially when you consider Kyle Barraclough was traded to the Nationals earlier this month. Dealing Barraclough opened the door for Steckenrider to at least be considered the front-runner to close heading into Spring Training. I wouldn't be surprised if the club also pursues a veteran who has either closed or pitched in high-leverage situations in the past. But I don't anticipate that being a pricy free agent.

The Marlins aren't knocking on the door to being a playoff team right now, and allocating resources on a closer is not a priority. Steckenrider is a strike thrower, and he misses bats. He had a 10.30 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate this year. Adam Conley is another possibility, but he is a lefty and may be more valuable in a setup role, because he can pitch multiple innings.

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, Drew Steckenrider

Inbox: Will Nats' staff change in the offseason?

Beat reporter Jamal Collier answers questions from fans
MLB.com

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals begin this offseason filled with question marks, from Bryce Harper's looming free agency to holes at second base and catcher, in the rotation and in the bullpen. The team that takes the field in 2019 will likely look a lot different than the team that did so in 2018, but will the faces in the dugout remain the same? Today's Nationals' inbox begins there, wondering whether change is on the horizon for Dave Martinez's coaching staff:

Do you see any changes Dave Martinez might make in his staff for 2019 season?
-- Andy C. via email from Lexington, Ky.

WASHINGTON -- The Nationals begin this offseason filled with question marks, from Bryce Harper's looming free agency to holes at second base and catcher, in the rotation and in the bullpen. The team that takes the field in 2019 will likely look a lot different than the team that did so in 2018, but will the faces in the dugout remain the same? Today's Nationals' inbox begins there, wondering whether change is on the horizon for Dave Martinez's coaching staff:

Do you see any changes Dave Martinez might make in his staff for 2019 season?
-- Andy C. via email from Lexington, Ky.

During the final weekend of the regular season, Martinez said he wanted his entire coaching staff back for next season.

"They worked their butts off all year long, and they're really good," Martinez said in Denver. "They've been very positive. They're a big part of keeping this aloft. They really are."

General manager Mike Rizzo also threw his support behind the coaching staff, praising their communication skills and work ethic while adding he did not anticipate any changes to the staff. Rizzo and Martinez were expected to meet with each other after the season ended, when they will talk about everything from this season's outcome to the coaching staff. So while things may have changed following that meeting, it certainly sounds as if the Nats value some continuity in the dugout after overhauling their coaching staff last year.

But while the personnel might look the same, Martinez did hint at some potential changes in their approach.

"I'll have meetings this winter with the coaches, and we'll have a different approach to Spring Training as far as doing fundamentals and what I want to see," he said. "We're just going to work on defense, hitting the cutoff man, turning double plays, turning double plays from shifts positions, pickoff plays ... We're going to do those little things and make sure when the season starts next year, we're not going to second guess."

Tweet from @LeonTrout: Watching the 2nd half & the playoffs & noticing so many 'starters' being used from the bullpen - not even full "bullpenning". w/ Fedde & Rodriguez - maybe some other names who step forward (Voth, McGowin), are the Nats are inclined to look at them as multi inning bullpen pieces?

This is something I wondered near the end of the season while watching a few of the Nats young starters -- Erick Fedde, Jefry Rodriguez and Joe Ross -- make starts down the stretch. So many great relievers are just converted starting pitchers, and recently, it seems more teams have someone to fill the multi-inning reliever role as well. I think the history of elbow injuries for Ross and Fedde could make them a bit tricker to convert to relievers when they have never done it before, plus Rodriguez's arsenal fits much better. Down the stretch, Rodriguez even made a few short and long stints in the bullpen, in part to limit his innings, but Martinez also admitted he was curious to see what it looked like.

For now, the organization values starters much more heavily, and starting pitching depth is already an issue they will need to address this offseason. The Nats seem committed to let these players prove themselves as starting pitchers first before they discuss converting them into relievers, but it's an intriguing thought.

Could the Nationals possibly trade Tanner Roark?
-- Avi S. via email from Alexandria, Va.

Probably not. First off, Roark's trade value is probably not very high considering he just turned 32 this month and posted a 4.67 ERA in 2017 and a 4.34 ERA in '18 without great peripherals to back him up. Secondly, the Nationals need more starting pitching this offseason, not less. I'm not sure how trading Roark would solve that issue. For the right deal, of course the team could be open to it, but it seems unlikely.

What do you think the Nats will do at catcher? With Matt Wieters contract being up and his health and bat being inconsistent, do you see them bringing in a new catcher or has Spencer Kieboom done enough?
-- Charley Hays via email from Springfield, Va.

I think the Nationals will almost certainly have a new starting catcher from outside the organization come Opening Day in 2019. Wieters was well-liked and had strong stretches, but during his two seasons in Washington, the Nats received the worst production in the Majors from their catchers (-0.7 WAR). Pedro Severino was once the catcher of the future, but took a step back in 2018. And while Spencer Kieboom might have exceeded expectations, he still only posted a 71 OPS+ (100 is league average). So the truth is, the Nationals will likely need multiple catchers to fill out their depth chart next year.

Who exactly they will target remains unclear, but there are some options at catcher available. I expect the Nats to re-engage the Marlins on J.T. Realmuto, but notable free agents include Yasmani Grandal, Wilson Ramos, Jonathan Lucroy and Robinson Chirinos.

Do you not think the money we could save on not signing Harper could be used to create an awesome bullpen? We have no stable pitchers besides Scherzer and how many years does he have [left]? Shouldn't the bullpen and some stable starters be Washington's [priorities]?
-- Steven Boomer via email from Garner, N.C.

The reality is the Nationals need to address each of these areas if they believe they will compete again in 2019. They need a starter or two and to rebuild their bullpen, and they will not let a potential superstar talent in Harper walk away without trying to re-sign him. And while Rizzo will point out he has never been restricted or under any sort of payroll mandate, he also does not operate without any sort of budget. That's why the Nationals may only be willing to bid to a certain price for Harper, because of a hesitation to commit too much of their future payroll to just one player. Of course, this is a wise move to make sure they can field a competitive team around him in the future.

The Nats have also not had a great track record of signing free agent relievers and have been hesitant to hand out too many multi-year deals considering the volatile nature of bullpen arms, which are difficult to predict the success of from year to year. As we saw with their trade for reliever Kyle Barraclough, the Nats are likely going to explore some creative measures to fill their needs, because not all of them will come via free agency.

Jamal Collier has covered the Nationals for MLB.com since 2016. Follow him on Twitter at @jamalcollier.

Washington Nationals

Inbox: Will Rays eye familiar free-agent faces?

Beat reporter Bill Chastain answers fan questions about offseason
MLB.com

Do you see the Rays re-signing Wilson Ramos this offseason? I believe the team is well-rounded but could become even better with an improvement in the catching department. A full year of Ramos would provide some extra power to an already potent lineup.
-- Bryce P., Tampa

I don't see the Rays re-signing "The Buffalo." For starters, he'll likely be out of their price range, but more to the point, they've got three catchers they like in Jesus Sucre, Michael Perez and Nick Ciuffo. I'm more interested to see which of those three will be the odd man out by Opening Day.

Do you see the Rays re-signing Wilson Ramos this offseason? I believe the team is well-rounded but could become even better with an improvement in the catching department. A full year of Ramos would provide some extra power to an already potent lineup.
-- Bryce P., Tampa

I don't see the Rays re-signing "The Buffalo." For starters, he'll likely be out of their price range, but more to the point, they've got three catchers they like in Jesus Sucre, Michael Perez and Nick Ciuffo. I'm more interested to see which of those three will be the odd man out by Opening Day.

Submit a question to the Rays Inbox

Hello, I was wondering what you thought [were] the most blatant issues the Rays need to address this offseason? I was thinking the back-end of the 'pen is the main problem -- I'm assuming Sergio Romo isn't coming back -- so having someone for the ninth and the eighth. If Jose Alvarado or someone else isn't going to fill the [role], finding a closer seems to be pretty important based on some of the games near the end of this season.

The offense seems pretty stable, assuming players will be consistent with how they performed this year, which I can imagine won't always be the case. Especially hoping people like Jake Bauers can have a full and more consistent year.
-- Fernando G., Hollister, Calif.

I would agree with you, the back-end of the bullpen is a concern. If they don't bring back Romo, which isn't necessarily a given, I think they'll use Alvarado and Diego Castillo to close games. "Opener" Ryne Stanek also seems to be a viable option, and perhaps Jaime Schultz.

As for the offense, I think the Rays have a chance to be better on offense next season since there weren't many players in the lineup who had career years in 2018. I believe Bauers has the right stuff to be a quality Major Leaguer, so I would expect his numbers to move more toward what they were in the Minor Leagues.

We did very well with our trades this year, especially for Austin Meadows. We also got a steal in getting Nick Solak from the Yankees. Any chance of him playing second base in 2019?
-- Michael B., Bonn, Germany

Solak indeed had a good year, hitting .282 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. But he did so for Double-A Montgomery. Thus, I think he'd be a longshot to be with the Rays at least until the second half. The Rays have a healthy problem at the Major League level with a host of quality middle infielders.

I've only been following baseball for a couple of years now so there might be something I'm missing, but why is Joey Wendle not being considered for [the American League] Rookie of the Year [Award]? He's been one of the most consistent hitters all year, and from what I've seen, he's the Rays best fielder in three different positions (second base, shortstop and third base).
-- Michael G., Darlington, England

Who says he's not in contention? I think he'll definitely get some votes, though I don't think he'll get enough to win the award. I've got to say, I certainly was impressed at how Wendle played the game. He ran hard to first base on every ball he hit, and he always seemed to be a tough out late in the game.

In your last Inbox, you suggested that James Shields returning to the Rays might be a good fit. I've got another one. How about bringing Nathan Eovaldi back?
-- Todd R., Tampa

I like the idea of Eovaldi returning to the Rays, and other years I might say such a suggestion would be ridiculous given that the Rays normally don't like to go to market for free-agent starting pitching. However, I'm not sure what the market's going to look like this offseason. Last year, everybody seemed to spend their money to fortify their bullpens. Will that trend continue, and will that trend hurt what starting pitchers get on the market? That could be the case given the fact that the starting pitcher's role seems to be getting minimized. Having said that, Eovaldi should be attractive to many suitors, so I don't believe the chances of the Rays signing him are likely.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for MLB.com since 2005.

Tampa Bay Rays, Nathan Eovaldi, Wilson Ramos, Nick Solak, Joey Wendle

Inbox: Who is on the White Sox offseason radar?

Beat reporter Scott Merkin answers early offseason questions
MLB.com

CHICAGO -- Here's a look at this week's White Sox questions, with the answers coming fresh off Monday's Eagles concert at the United Center.

Submit a question to the White Sox inbox

CHICAGO -- Here's a look at this week's White Sox questions, with the answers coming fresh off Monday's Eagles concert at the United Center.

Submit a question to the White Sox inbox

With the impending wave of young arms in the system, what kind of deal makes the most sense for a free agent pitcher this season?
Ryan, @Dunt1

Locking up a younger, veteran-type pitcher makes sense for the overall White Sox position, with maybe a two-year deal and an option for a third. Someone such as Nathan Eovaldi, the 28-year-old who started Game 3 of the ALCS for Boston, fits that mold. The White Sox have an apparent strong core of young starters, with Reynaldo Lopez, Lucas Giolito, Carlos Rodon and Michael Kopech already in the Majors, and Dylan Cease, MLB Pipeline's Pitcher of the Year and the White Sox Pitching Prospect of the Year, not far behind.

But the White Sox know a more experienced type of presence is needed in the group. They will probably go after a couple of starters, but one might be more of the bridge variety.

What is your assessment of the results produced by the current batting coach during his five seasons in that role?
Bill, Williamsburg, Va.

Paul Konerko once dubbed baseball's hitting coach position as the worst job in sports. Or maybe it was the toughest job in sports, but he isn't wrong in either direction. If the hitters come through, it's because of their talent. If they fail, a new hitting coach is needed.

White Sox hitters need to make more contact after a record-breaking strikeout season. At the very least, they need to do more with the at-bats where they aren't striking out. I don't necessarily think a change from Todd Steverson is needed in relation to that fact, if the hitters are connected to his work and there seems to be a central theme throughout the system.

This might be a stupid question, but here goes: Would the Sox consider using Matt Davidson out of the bullpen on a somewhat regular basis next season?
Sol, New York

Davidson has spoken about expanding his role to include part-time reliever and spoke of a planned offseason conversation with the White Sox to potentially explore that new role. He was not scored upon in three relief outing during the 2018 season and certainly looked more polished than a position player filling innings in a blowout, but the White Sox didn't seem quite as devoted to the added pitching responsibilities. It would have been interesting to see Davidson pitching in a somewhat higher leverage role for at least one game in September.

Video: NYY@CWS: Davidson works scoreless 9th, K's Stanton

In reference to Tim Anderson's extension early in his career, should we be expecting (general manager Rick) Hahn to try and extend guys like Giolito, (Yoan) Moncada and Lopez anytime soon?
John, Hinsdale, @jbomba14

The tremendous contracts involving Chris Sale, Jose Quintana and Adam Eaton locked down key core players, and eventually enhanced their trade return, and in turn, the rebuild. The White Sox have been good about targeting the right players for these sorts of contracts and will almost certainly try again.

Which free agents do you think the Sox should target either this offseason or next offseason to finish the process?
Troy, Mokena, IL, @TroyTeske1

I've already mentioned Eovaldi. Going after Manny Machado this offseason or Nolan Arenado after 2019 obviously makes sense, as does Jeurys Familia or Adam Ottavino out of the bullpen. A multi-purpose player such as Marwin Gonzalez also fits well, or maybe a reunion with infielder Eduardo Escobar. These are just a few names, and remember, trades are also in play as part of the finishing process.

Better fit in free agency -- McCutchen or (A.J.) Pollock?
Jeremy, Highland, Ind., @jeremyrat47

I'd go for Andrew McCutchen for a couple of years. He would be a good fit with the younger players, although he's not a center fielder any longer, which would fit more of the White Sox need. The White Sox are prospect rich in the outfield, so it will be interesting to see how deep they go with outside additions in that area.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox

Inbox: Is Senzel destined for Reds' outfield?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers questions from fans
MLB.com

Does it make sense to convert Nick Senzel to an outfield position? The outfield already seems pretty set with Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton and Phillip Ervin. Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett could bring in quite a haul through trade, and Senzel could play second base, where he already has experience. Thoughts?
- Matthew T., Lexington, Ky.

The Reds aren't converting top prospect Senzel to an outfielder as much as they are exposing him to a new position to increase his versatility and to create more avenues to get him to the big leagues. As the Cubs have demonstrated with Kris Bryant playing three positions besides his natural third base, a manager has flexibility to create better matchups with his lineups. Before Senzel had elbow surgery last week to remove some bone chips, the Reds liked what they saw from Senzel in the outfield at instructional league. It was the perfect place to try it out.

Does it make sense to convert Nick Senzel to an outfield position? The outfield already seems pretty set with Jesse Winker, Scott Schebler, Billy Hamilton and Phillip Ervin. Meanwhile, Scooter Gennett could bring in quite a haul through trade, and Senzel could play second base, where he already has experience. Thoughts?
- Matthew T., Lexington, Ky.

The Reds aren't converting top prospect Senzel to an outfielder as much as they are exposing him to a new position to increase his versatility and to create more avenues to get him to the big leagues. As the Cubs have demonstrated with Kris Bryant playing three positions besides his natural third base, a manager has flexibility to create better matchups with his lineups. Before Senzel had elbow surgery last week to remove some bone chips, the Reds liked what they saw from Senzel in the outfield at instructional league. It was the perfect place to try it out.

:: Submit a question to the Reds Inbox ::

Also, I would argue the Reds' outfield isn't set. Winker is coming off a major shoulder surgery. Schebler endured a lot of injuries last season, and Hamilton has underperformed at the plate. Ervin did really well with his opportunity in the second half, but he has a lot of work to do for improving defensively.

What if a team like the Reds -- who probably could not offer Bryce Harper or Manny Machado a long-term deal -- pay one of them well above what they would get per year on a long-term contract by offering a two-year, $100 million contract?
-- @JGideon818 on Twitter

I do not see it. While money is a big part of the equation, so is the security of a long-term contract. What if Harper or Machado were injured or had a dreadful season in the second year of the contract while heading into another free-agent year? Their value would plummet.

If the Reds do not hire Jim Riggleman, would he go back to bench coach? And what would happen to Pat Kelly? Also, do you think that Reds will keep interim pitching coach Danny Darwin?
-- Mason A. Oxford, Ohio

Riggleman said on the final day of the season that he would be willing to remain in the organization in just about any role. As for bench coach, it would really depend on who the new manager would want and who he is comfortable with. Kelly and Darwin were told they could remain in the organization if they weren't retained as big league coaches.

Will Cody Reed have a chance to be a starting pitcher next season?
-- Lily F., Cincinnati

Reed will likely get a shot after showing improvement and increased confidence at both the Triple-A and big league levels. The good thing about the lefty is that he could potentially be a starter or reliever, and he's shown enthusiasm about working in either role.

How does this franchise get away with not interviewing top diverse talent for their manager opening? We interviewed exclusively old white men for the manager opening outside of Billy Hatcher and Freddie Benavides.
-- Jordan S., Cincinnati

You forgot that Cincinnati also interviewed Hensley Meulens and Charlie Montoyo.

Do the Reds know now who will be available for Rule 5 Draft, or does that come later?
-- Al Lautenslager on Facebook

Teams must protect eligible players on 40-man rosters by Nov. 20. That leaves a few weeks to go over the board before Dec. 13, when the Rule 5 Draft is held on the final day of the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas. Since everybody scouts at all levels of each organization, I'm sure all teams have a reasonable idea of who they would like should they be left unprotected. But I wouldn't get your hopes up that anyone selected will be a huge difference-maker. The Reds' last Rule 5 pick to last the whole season was backup catcher Stuart Turner a couple of years ago. It's been over a decade since the 2006 Rule 5 Draft, when Cincinnati got both outfielder Josh Hamilton and reliever Jared Burton.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Cincinnati Reds

Inbox: Who's on list to lead O's into new era?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers questions from fans
MLB.com

Any word on the manager and general manager search?
-- Scott L., White Marsh, Md.

It's been fairly quiet on the front-office front, and you can expect the search will start from the top. The new general manager will have a say in who manages, and the coaching staff and other smaller hires trickle down from there. What's interesting to me is how many names have leaked out for other front-office jobs -- such as the Mets -- but you haven't heard anything out of Baltimore. This could be because they're still compiling a list, want to interview people who are involved in teams still playing or are just really good at keeping secrets. (Doubtful on that last one as these things always have a way of getting out.) Regardless, I'd be surprised if there isn't some movement in the next week. Yes, it's a big hire. But the Orioles can't afford to go into the offseason without a plan in place.

Any word on the manager and general manager search?
-- Scott L., White Marsh, Md.

It's been fairly quiet on the front-office front, and you can expect the search will start from the top. The new general manager will have a say in who manages, and the coaching staff and other smaller hires trickle down from there. What's interesting to me is how many names have leaked out for other front-office jobs -- such as the Mets -- but you haven't heard anything out of Baltimore. This could be because they're still compiling a list, want to interview people who are involved in teams still playing or are just really good at keeping secrets. (Doubtful on that last one as these things always have a way of getting out.) Regardless, I'd be surprised if there isn't some movement in the next week. Yes, it's a big hire. But the Orioles can't afford to go into the offseason without a plan in place.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

What are the chances the Orioles will sign Cuban prospect Victor Victor Mesa?
-- Carlos V., Dundalk, Md.

Similar to the GM/manager search, not a whole lot has leaked in regard to how serious a pursuit the Orioles are planning. We know they had a small contingent on hand recently in Miami to watch outfielders Victor Victor Mesa -- the top-ranked international prospect by MLB Pipeline -- Victor Mesa Jr. and pitcher Sandy Gaston. We know the Orioles and the Marlins are the top two landing spots, as they're the two clubs with the most international bonus pool money still available.

The front-office situation doesn't really come into play here. The Orioles have interim GM Brian Graham and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson is still in his current role. They have people who can make decisions and deals can still be made. (The one that always springs to mind is the O's claiming Darren O'Day off waivers before they hired Dan Duquette.) The sides have talked. I'm sure numbers have been exchanged. But there's no timetable and no way to handicap if the O's will secure Mesa, his brother or Gaston. But it would be a heck of a way to open a long offseason.

I know it's a rebuild, but will the Orioles do anything exciting in free agency? Add a veteran starting pitcher, maybe?
-- Joe L., Reading, Pa.

Depends on what you deem exciting. Obviously the O's shed a lot of payroll in all of the in-season trades. And they will save even more by hiring a manager who won't command the $3 million or so that Buck Showalter did. The Orioles will add a few relievers, maybe a starter or two. But the real issue has to be the infield. Will Baltimore look for a few cheap defensive-minded players? You have to consider in a rebuild how important it is to develop some of the younger pitchers. Guys have to be able to make the plays, and the Orioles' defense was awful last year. I'm more interested in what the O's will do there than if they add a starter.

What are the chances of bringing back any of their free agents?
-- Sara H., Dumfries, Va.

Slim. The Orioles traded players like Manny Machado, Zach Britton and Brad Brach in-season, because they didn't factor into the team's future plans. Machado is way out of the O's price range, and as for the other two, a rebuilding team doesn't need to spend its resources nailing down a back end of the bullpen.

Outfielder Adam Jones is the most interesting case, as I don't think anyone knows what that market will look like. I'd expect the 33-year-old will want a multiyear deal, but free agency hasn't been kind to older position players in recent offseasons. I could see a scenario in which Jones' market isn't there and the Orioles bring him back as a veteran on a shorter deal. It's not out of the question. But there are a lot of bridges to pass before that becomes even a possibility.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

Baltimore Orioles

Inbox: Could Salazar replace Miller and Allen?

Beat reporter Jordan Bastian answers questions from fans
MLB.com

This will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout this offseason and during Spring Training. Right now, the Indians' goal is to get Danny Salazar healthy, while weighing whether it makes sense to tender him a contract through the arbitration process.

Tweet from @AndyMees216: With the likely exits of C Allen & A Miller, is Danny Salazar a possibility to be a late inning reliever to bridge the gap to closer Brad Hand? Andy Mees, Sandusky #IndiansInbox

This will be an interesting storyline to follow throughout this offseason and during Spring Training. Right now, the Indians' goal is to get Danny Salazar healthy, while weighing whether it makes sense to tender him a contract through the arbitration process.

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Salazar avoided arbitration with a $5 million contract last season and -- considering he did not throw a pitch in the Majors in 2018 -- it stands to reason that his '19 salary would be in the same range. If the Indians think Salazar can contribute next season, then I would think that would be a worthwhile gamble, especially given the cost of pitching on the open market.

If Cleveland returns with its rotation intact, the cast is five strong between Corey Kluber, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor Bauer, Mike Clevinger and Shane Bieber. Adam Plutko is next in line at the moment. The depth behind that group is thin, making Salazar and fellow righty Cody Anderson potentially important alternatives. Anderson is coming back from Tommy John surgery (March 2017), but should be unrestricted come Spring Training.

During a season-end sit-down with reporters, manager Terry Francona noted that both Salazar and Anderson would head into the preseason with the plan of being built up as starting pitchers. Then, if there is a need in the bullpen, both right-handers could then be considered for that type of role. It is worth noting that Salazar has no Minor League options remaining, while Anderson has one.

Salazar underwent an arthroscopic debridement and bursectomy on his right shoulder on July 2 and, barring any further setbacks, could resume throwing by November. When he's been healthy, Salazar has boasted an elite fastball and split-change combination, making the righty one of baseball's best in terms of missing bats. If Cody Allen and Andrew Miller indeed leave via free agency, a healthy Salazar would be a very intriguing bullpen weapon.

Tweet from @nathan_carder: #IndiansInbox What are the realistic chances Michael Brantley is back next year? He was a steady force in a shakey outfield. Nathan CarderPaw Paw, WV

Michael Brantley, Allen and Miller are the free agents that Cleveland will need to mull extending a one-year Qualifying Offer ($17.9 million for 2019) to this offseason. Given the season Brantley just turned in, I could see the Indians floating that one-year deal for the left fielder. The Indians rolled the dice on his $12 million club option last winter and Brantley posted 3.5 WAR (per Fangraphs). In terms of free-agent dollars, that showing was valued at $28 million, according to Fangraphs. The Indians have question marks at all three outfield spots, so trying to retain Brantley, who has been with Cleveland for parts of 10 seasons, makes a lot of sense.

Tweet from @oldwriter1: Any thoughts on an outfield of Brantley, Martin and Andrew McCutchen with Greg Allen as fourth outfielder?

Greg Allen can switch-hit, play all three outfield spots and offers speed, so I do think he fits the roster well as a fourth outfielder. As noted in the previous question, I also think it makes sense to try to retain Brantley. As for Leonys Martin, Cleveland needs to weigh whether going to arbitration with him makes sense, considering the serious health scare he had in the second half.

If Martin continues to recover well this winter, then keeping him in the fold via arbitration would seem like a logical decision. The extra year of control, after all, was a part of what made Martin an attractive acquisition for the Tribe. Bradley Zimmer (recovering from right shoulder surgery) might not be ready until mid-season and Tyler Naquin might be sliding to right field now that Lonnie Chisenhall is hitting free agency.

As for Andrew McCutchen, I like where your head's at, Tim. It's not a given that Cleveland will pick up Brandon Guyer's $3 million club option. If he is not retained, the Indians should target a right-handed complement for their outfield. McCutchen fits the mold, can offer depth at all three positions (while best utilized in the corners) and his 128 OPS+ against lefties indicates that he was 28 percent better than league average against left-handed pitching.

Tweet from @cday2626: Any chance Indians keep Miller/Allen? #IndiansInbox

Given the subpar season he just had, Allen does not seem like a candidate for the one-year Qualifying Offer. It could also be risky to extend that offer to Miller, even though he seems like a safer bet to have teams overlook his health issues of '18 when considering a multi-year contract. Either way, it seems very unlikely either is back with Cleveland in 2019.

Tweet from @CAD_Alaska: #IndiansInbox I���ll play devil���s advocate: trading for Machado would have been better than Hand/Cimber in light and hindsight of, the DS results. Agree or disagree?

Disagree. Part of the reasoning behind acquiring Brad Hand and Adam Cimber was to guard against Allen and Miller leaving via free agency this offseason. It was not only with the 2018 postseason in mind. On top of that, Cleveland acquired Josh Donaldson for the stretch run and playoffs. That was the Tribe's "Machado," so to speak. Now, did Donaldson hit in October? No, he went 1-for-11, but the Tribe's lineup as a whole went ice cold against Houston's overpowering pitching. I liked how the Indians went about those trades. Alas, results do not always align with process.

Tweet from @HattMuml: With all due respect to him, why is VanBo still around? Cubs fired their hitting coach. It seems a shakeup is necessary after our offense collapsed in back to back playoffs. #indiansinbox

First, let's run "VanBo" through the Terry Francona translator. That's the manager's nickname for hitting coach Ty Van Burkleo, who has held that role since Francona came to Cleveland in 2013. After the playoffs, Francona said Van Burkleo, along with the rest of the coaching staff, were in the plans for 2019, barring anyone leaving for jobs with another team.

Francona's reasoning for standing pat and standing by Van Burkleo was looking at the season's body of work -- not just three October losses. In the regular season, the Indians ranked third in the Majors with 818 runs scored, while ranking fourth overall in weighted on-base average (.330), fourth in OPS (.766), sixth in home runs (216) and tied for sixth in weighted runs created plus (105). Cleveland's strikeout rate as an offense (18.9 percent) was also the best in baseball in the regular season.

Tweet from @GODEVLS: #IndiansInbox What do you think the future holds for Jason Kipnis? - Ryan in Tempe, AZ

Well, as things currently stand, Jason Kipnis is set to earn $14.7 million in 2019 with Cleveland. If the Indians are unable to trade him this offseason -- the team nearly had a deal with the Mets last winter -- then the question will be how to handle Kipnis' place on the field. If Kipnis is in the plans for center, maybe the Indians won't tender a contract to Martin. If Brantley isn't in the plans, maybe Kipnis will slide over to left field.

Francona made a point in his season-end gathering to mention that the team needs to find a way to get a good look at Yandy Diaz in 2019. The easiest way to do that would be to hand him the keys to third base, meaning Jose Ramirez would stay put at second. That would seal Kipnis' fate as an outfielder, if he stays.

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.

Cleveland Indians

Inbox: What's Pittsburgh's solution at shortstop?

Beat reporter Adam Berry answers questions from fans
MLB.com

The rotation and bullpen look solid. The outfield and two-headed monster behind the plate are top three in the NL. If Josh Bell and Colin Moran, both young and learning, can make reasonable growth with power, we're set there. Adam Frazier has got second base, and Jung Ho Kang is your veteran infielder. That leaves shortstop as the only variable, and therein lies my question. What to do? -- Jeff F., Erie, Pa.

I wouldn't say shortstop is the Pirates' only question mark in that scenario. Gregory Polanco's recovery is critical to their outfield composition and offensive upside, and you're betting a lot on Bell and Moran. It's nearly impossible to make definitive statements this early in the offseason, but let's take a look at some possibilities at shortstop.

The rotation and bullpen look solid. The outfield and two-headed monster behind the plate are top three in the NL. If Josh Bell and Colin Moran, both young and learning, can make reasonable growth with power, we're set there. Adam Frazier has got second base, and Jung Ho Kang is your veteran infielder. That leaves shortstop as the only variable, and therein lies my question. What to do? -- Jeff F., Erie, Pa.

I wouldn't say shortstop is the Pirates' only question mark in that scenario. Gregory Polanco's recovery is critical to their outfield composition and offensive upside, and you're betting a lot on Bell and Moran. It's nearly impossible to make definitive statements this early in the offseason, but let's take a look at some possibilities at shortstop.

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1) Give Kevin Newman the job. I don't see him being the primary shortstop on Opening Day, but I think he'll play a part, perhaps as a utility infielder. The Pirates drafted him in the first round in 2015 and pushed him through the system, believing in his contact-oriented approach, speed and steady defense. But he struggled in his debut, batting .209 with a .478 OPS and four errors in the field. He could play his way into a bigger role, and fellow shortstop prospect Cole Tucker may not be far behind.

2) Sign a free agent. Take a look at the list of shortstops expected to be available, and you won't find a game-changing player beyond Manny Machado, who will inspire a big-market bidding war. Jose Iglesias, Freddy Galvis and Adeiny Hechavarria would upgrade Pittsburgh's infield defense, though, and a strong glove should be the priority at shortstop.

3) Explore the trade market. It's hard to say in October who will or won't move this offseason, so we're left to speculate. If the D-backs rebuild, for instance, perhaps slick-fielding Nick Ahmed would be available. Would the Orioles consider flipping base-stealing threat Jonathan Villar? What would it take to pry former top prospect Jurickson Profar from the Rangers?

4) Re-sign Jordy Mercer. There's something to be said for the safe route. Mercer is a known quantity on the field and a veteran leader in the clubhouse, but he's earned the right to see what other opportunities are out there as a free agent. Interestingly, GM Neal Huntington said the Pirates believe Mercer, whether he's in Pittsburgh or elsewhere, can unlock more power later in his career by learning from the adjustments made this year by veterans like David Freese and Francisco Cervelli.

With the subtractions of their biggest contracts like Andrew McCutchen, Gerrit Cole, Josh Harrison, Mercer and a few select others that freed them up a couple million, do the Pirates have enough money to go after a significant free agent this offseason? If so, who would be the best fit if the price was right? -- Cody W., Pittsburgh

The Pirates' Opening Day payroll was down this year after trading McCutchen and Cole. They dealt Freese in August, and they'll be clear next season of their obligations to Mercer and Sean Rodriguez. They will create additional space if they decline Harrison's option.

However, they added to their future commitments by acquiring Corey Dickerson, projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $8.4 million in arbitration next year; Chris Archer, who is due $7.5 million (plus one-sixth of his $1 million signing bonus) through the extension he signed with the Rays; and Keone Kela, projected to make $3.2 million in 2019.

On top of that, the guaranteed contracts of Starling Marte, Cervelli, Polanco and Felipe Vazquez call for modest raises. By my back-of-the-notebook math, their estimated 2019 payroll at this moment projects to be about $75 million.

Pittsburgh began this season with an Opening Day payroll of $84,585,833, according to USA Today, but spent closer to $90 million on the Major League roster by the end of the season. We don't know what the budget is heading into next season, and it's worth noting attendance at PNC Park dropped for the third straight year. But let's use those numbers as a guidepost.

If the Pirates begin 2019 in roughly the same place they finished '18, without subtracting any significant salaries, they'll have about $15 million to address their needs. They'll consider bringing back Kang, for one. Picking up his option would bump their projected payroll to around $80 million, or they could try to negotiate a new deal.

We covered their need for a shortstop above, and they'll likely need a replacement right fielder while Polanco heals. Could they pursue good players at those positions? Sure, and I suspect they will. Are they going to be involved at the top of the market? Don't bet on it.

As ever, they must make smart acquisitions, be creative and get the most out of what they have in order to succeed.

Why couldn't they use Bell in right until Polanco comes back and put Cervelli at first? That would free up space on the roster for Jacob Stallings. -- Jason G., Munhall, Pa.

Bell played some right field in 2016 but hasn't worked there on a consistent basis since the '14 season. If they were going to move him, it would have made a lot more sense to do so when they were scrambling to find three outfielders following Marte's suspension in 2017. They didn't, because they wanted him to focus on improving at first base. The same holds true now.

Adam Berry has covered the Pirates for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and read his blog.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Inbox: Did 'extreme' flexibility hurt the Cubs?

Beat reporter Carrie Muskat answers questions from fans
MLB.com

While the extreme flexibility in the Cubs' lineup is pretty impressive -- from players like Kris Bryant (third base, left field, right field) and Javier Baez (second base, shortstop, third base) being slotted into multiple positions on the field and in the batting order -- do you think not having a relatively settled lineup or batting order is a contributing factor to the team's lack of consistency? -- Joe S., Henderson, Nev.

During exit interviews, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said some players did express some frustration over the constantly changing lineups. However, Epstein added that the players understood why manager Joe Maddon changed things up.

While the extreme flexibility in the Cubs' lineup is pretty impressive -- from players like Kris Bryant (third base, left field, right field) and Javier Baez (second base, shortstop, third base) being slotted into multiple positions on the field and in the batting order -- do you think not having a relatively settled lineup or batting order is a contributing factor to the team's lack of consistency? -- Joe S., Henderson, Nev.

During exit interviews, Cubs president of baseball operations Theo Epstein said some players did express some frustration over the constantly changing lineups. However, Epstein added that the players understood why manager Joe Maddon changed things up.

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"They look around and see the talent here," Epstein said. "That's how players talk about it -- it's like, 'Hey, we have so many talented players who deserve to play, and that's what makes us great and really good. But here's how sometimes it makes me feel and here's how if we could communicate about it, it could make things easier.'"

According to Baseball Reference, the Cubs used 152 different batting orders. By comparison, the Brewers used 137 different batting orders and the Dodgers used 155.

In case you were wondering what the most common batting order for the Cubs was: Albert Almora Jr., Baez, Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Willson Contreras, Kyle Schwarber, Addison Russell, Jason Heyward and the starting pitcher

Maddon used that lineup for five games.

What's the possibility that Kris Bryant will need shoulder surgery this winter? -- Wayne C., South Bend, Ind.

Not likely. At the end of the season, both Bryant and Epstein said the third baseman did not need surgery on his left shoulder.

Once Kris Bryant returned from his second DL stint, he started to keep two hands on the bat, and it appeared he was not "staying through" the baseball as well as he did not trying to keep two hands on the bat. Does Kris plan to swing natural next year or work with keeping two hands on the bat? -- Tyler B., Gilbert, Ariz.

Bryant used the two-handed approach during batting practice and when he was hitting in the cage to avoid putting more stress on his left shoulder. You may have felt he wasn't "staying through" his swing, but Bryant seemed to like the switch and compared it to a golf swing.

"It feels -- and I feel -- a lot more powerful. I feel like I'm hitting the ball further," Bryant said in late August.

He'll most likely experiment this offseason.

I've been wondering the whole season whether David Bote might have a permanent position on the active roster rather than bouncing back and forth from Triple-A to the big leagues. -- Denise M., Yorkville, Ill.

Bote did shuttle back and forth early, but was stayed with the big league team from July 26 through the end of the year. His versatility on defense and .455 batting average as a pinch-hitter certainly make him an attractive player to have on the active roster. It will depend on the roster makeup next year, but he definitely opened some eyes.

Tyler Chatwood can't pitch. To even suggest including him as a starter for 2019 is ludicrous. The upper management must own up to the fact that they spent money on him and figure out a way to get rid of him. -- Judi M., Barrington, Ill.

Chatwood did finish the season as the Major League leader in walks. He also held right-handed hitters to a .150 average and .219 slugging percentage. Let's see what happens after an offseason to reboot. When the Cubs signed Chatwood last December, I heard from more than one scout that it was a great pickup. I'm optimistic that he can get back on track.

Is there any concern regarding the Cubs batting with runners in scoring position? I heard many comments that we had such a low average for that during the season. -- Haley S., Vero Beach, Fla.

The Cubs finished 10th in the National League with a .247 batting average with runners in scoring position. By comparison, they also ranked 10th in 2016 with a .252 batting average with RISP and 11th in 2017 at .253. It's something the Cubs would like to improve on, which will likely be a hot topic for the new hitting coach.

What is the current number of players (past and present) with any connection (Major or Minor Leagues) to the Texas Rangers? (Asked by a Texas Cubs fan who went to the same high school as Kerry Wood and currently lives four miles away from where the Rangers play) -- Stanley K., Grand Prairie, Texas

According to Baseball Reference, 68 pitchers pitched and 141 players played for both the Cubs and Rangers. I'm not going to list them all (not enough room here), but the list does include a variety, including Don Zimmer (who played and managed the Cubs and also managed the Rangers from 1981-82).

Players on the 2018 Cubs with ties to both included Anthony Bass, Eddie Butler, Jesse Chavez, Yu Darvish, Chris Gimenez, Cole Hamels, and Pedro Strop. Kyle Hendricks was drafted by the Rangers in 2008, and Carl Edwards Jr. was drafted in '11.

Carrie Muskat has covered the Cubs since 1987, and for MLB.com since 2001. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat.

Chicago Cubs

Inbox: What's the deal with Victor Victor Mesa?

Beat reporter Joe Frisaro answers questions from fans
MLB.com

How soon to do you see Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston signing? Is it possible the Marlins get the brothers or all three?
-- @CraigShoupNH

Major League Baseball recently declared all three as free agents, meaning they can sign whenever a deal is reached. So it could technically happen quickly. But this is a business, and it's a matter of establishing the market for all three to measure which clubs are the most serious. That can take a little while. As MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported, about 75 scouts attended their showcase on Friday at Marlins Park.

How soon to do you see Victor Victor Mesa, Victor Mesa Jr. and Sandy Gaston signing? Is it possible the Marlins get the brothers or all three?
-- @CraigShoupNH

Major League Baseball recently declared all three as free agents, meaning they can sign whenever a deal is reached. So it could technically happen quickly. But this is a business, and it's a matter of establishing the market for all three to measure which clubs are the most serious. That can take a little while. As MLB.com's Jesse Sanchez reported, about 75 scouts attended their showcase on Friday at Marlins Park.

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I can say the Marlins have serious interest in all three and are aiming to sign all three. The Marlins have the second-highest amount of international bonus pool money, with only the Orioles ahead. Miami had $4.3 million before adding to that number when they dealt right-hand prospect Ryan Lillie to the Reds and right-handed reliever Kyle Barraclough to the Nationals, both for undisclosed amounts of international bonus money.

Victor Victor Mesa, a 22-year-old outfielder, is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the top international player on the market. His brother, outfielder Victor Jr., is 17, and Gaston, a right-hander, is a 16-year-old and ranked No. 16 on the international market by MLB Pipeline. Along with touting Miami's large Cuban community, the Marlins also are pitching the organization's commitment to building from the Minor Leagues on up. Another advantage the Marlins feel they have is that vice president of player development and scouting Gary Denbo has a strong track record in developing prospects. He previously did so with the Yankees.

Putting away the wins and losses of the season, did the Marlins complete their goals for the year?
-- @kevinsantos1212

Last October, when Derek Jeter was introduced as chief executive officer, he preached the importance of building from the Minor Leagues up. The fact was there was not enough organizational depth to have sustainable success with the way the roster was constructed in 2017. The trades that were made during the last year brought in nearly 30 new players to the system. While the Minor League system added more quality depth, the big league club suffered the most, reflected by the 63-98 record.

From a development standpoint, the biggest takeaway from the Major League roster was that 24 rookies got a chance to play at some point. Sandy Alcantara, Trevor Richards, Pablo Lopez and others showed signs of promise. Even though some players struggled, like Lewis Brinson, getting him a full season in the big leagues also helps the organization in its evaluation process.

Where do you see Monte Harrison starting next season, and when do you feel he realistically could be called up to the Marlins?
-- @fsutoby

One of the centerpiece players in the Christian Yelich trade with the Brewers, Harrison is a power-hitting outfielder who is ranked by MLB Pipeline as Miami's No. 1 prospect. The 23-year-old outfielder hit 19 home runs and drove in 48 runs at Double-A Jacksonville. The concern is his high strikeout rate, as he fanned 215 times with the Jumbo Shrimp. How quickly he reaches the big leagues will depend largely on his ability to make more contact, because when he does, he has the chance to be extremely impactful.

According to the Marlins' advanced data, 20 percent of the balls Harrison put in play had an exit velocity of more than 105 mph. That was the seventh-highest of more than 400 hitters at Double-A. Keep in mind, the 2018 season was a transitional one for Harrison. In Spring Training, he was reworking his swing, so having some struggles wasn't entirely unexpected in a season of development. Harrison will participate in the Arizona Fall League, which should give an indication of how he handles higher-level pitching.

I've seen rumors that Derek Dietrich might get non-tendered. Is there substance to this? If so, why would they non-tender rather than trading to the highest bidder?
-- @jason_beland

The speculation is raised because Dietrich, 29, will be entering his third year of arbitration, and his salary likely will jump at least a couple million more dollars from the $2.9 million he made in 2018. The Marlins explored trade possibilities for Dietrich in July, but no team showed serious interest. In the offseason, Miami likely will explore trade possibilities with more teams. If there isn't a trade fit, non-tendering Dietrich is certainly possible. Dietrich had 16 home runs and drove in 45 runs, but finding a position for him has been an issue. He is not a true outfielder, but played a lot of left field. Perhaps first base could be an option if he stays.

Do you see the Marlins signing a free agent closer or do they already have their closer on the roster?
-- @patrick_rotella

Closing out games was obviously a struggle for the bullpen: it converted 30 saves to 22 blown saves. But not all of them were in the ninth inning by the closer. That accounts for any late-inning lead surrendered by the bullpen. To address it in free agency, when the team is still building, isn't likely where the organization will allocate its resources. Internal candidates are Drew Steckenrider and Kyle Barraclough. Both had their ups and downs in the closer role and are still under club control. Adam Conley is another internal candidate. I do think the Marlins could bring in someone with closing experience, but I just don't think it will be a high-priced free agent at this time.

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

Miami Marlins

Inbox: What is the Royals' deepest position?

Beat reporter Jeffrey Flanagan answers fans' questions
MLB.com

KANSAS CITY -- Coming off a strong finish by their young core, the Royals' offseason is upon us.

There are rosters decisions to be made, Rule 5 Draft eligible players to be protected, and work to do to shore up the Royals' bullpen.

KANSAS CITY -- Coming off a strong finish by their young core, the Royals' offseason is upon us.

There are rosters decisions to be made, Rule 5 Draft eligible players to be protected, and work to do to shore up the Royals' bullpen.

With that, let's get to your questions in this week's Royals Inbox:

At what position are the Royals deepest?
-- Michael, Overland, Kansas @MichaelJMally1

I don't recall saying this in many years about a Royals team, but I'd probably say starting pitching. Danny Duffy (if he bounces back), Brad Keller, Jakob Junis, Ian Kennedy, Jorge Lopez, Eric Skoglund, Heath Fillmyer and Glenn Sparkman provide plenty of depth. And you never know if someone like Trevor Oaks or Scott Barlow or Arnaldo Hernandez or Foster Griffin wows the staff in camp.

Ned Yost has agreed to stay for 2019. Who might be his replacement?
-- Jenny, @jennysrc

Well, there's a chance Yost could be back in 2020 as well. He has stated repeatedly he wants to get this group competitive before he steps aside -- he wants his replacement to have a fighting chance at success. And once Yost steps away from the dugout, he likely will remain in a more advisory role. Dale Sveum would seem the logical choice to replace him. The players respect him. And Pedro Grifol merits strong consideration as well. Those would be the internal choices right now.

What are the chances that Frank Schwindel fights for a DH spot?
-- Nathan, @Best4Business15

Video: KC@CLE: Schwindel slugs a long solo homer to tie game

I think Schwindel will absolutely compete for a roster spot next spring. And to answer another question about Frank the Tank that I get asked quite often, I'm guessing the Royals leave him unprotected again before this December's Rule 5 Draft. They survived last year without protecting Schwindel or Ryan O'Hearn, simply because it's hard for teams to stash a backup first baseman on the 25-man roster.

Could you ever see the Royals experimenting with an "opener" or "bullpenning" the way other teams have?
-- Max, @maxrieper

Interesting question. We chatted with Yost about it numerous times this season. At first, he seemed skeptical -- he didn't want to spend his best bullpen arms in the first two innings of a game. And in his defense, it's not like he had his 2013-15 bullpens this year that were deep enough to employ the tactic. But Yost is more open-minded about these matters than he lets on. He simply wants results. I wouldn't be shocked with their rotation depth if they try it in '19.

Is there any talk about turning Duffy back into a reliever? He hasn't been able to stay healthy as a starter. With the late-season emergence of other rotation candidates, Duffy could help bolster a weak bullpen.
-- Jeff, @JeffBachman1

Video: DET@KC: Duffy strikes out 6 in 6 innings of work

Possible, but certainly Duffy will get a long look as a rotation candidate early on. He has vowed to devote this offseason to building strength in his rotator cuff and shoulder area. He's aware he has broken down too much lately and he is aware his fastball velocity has dipped. He believes he can get it back.

Jorge Bonifacio didn't perform well after returning from his PED suspension. Where does Bonifacio fit in the Royals' outfield plans?
-- Joey V., @Yay4Sportsballs

From the coaching staff to the front office, everyone was puzzled by Bonifacio's season -- just four homers once he came back from suspension with a .672 OPS. The general feeling is he's more like the 17-homer, .752 OPS guy he was in 2017. But he needs to impress in spring, not just offensively, but as a defender as well.

Who do you think will be the starting third and first basemen?
-- David, @BaltuskaDavid

The corners should be Hunter Dozier and O'Hearn after the way they performed in the final six weeks. Dozier made huge strides defensively and should keep getting better. O'Hearn needs to take that leap defensively as well. He is aware of it.

The closer on opening day is ... ?
-- Chris, @bballkansas

Video: KC@CIN: Peralta leaves the bases loaded for 14th save

Wily Peralta. Just a $3 million team option for 2019 -- that's cheap. He had to do a lot of dancing out of trouble at times, but he wound up 14-for-14 in save opportunities. Good guy in the clubhouse as well.

Opening Day lineup for next season?
-- BBJ, Gardner, Kansas, @Bbjkc

A very, very early guess:

2B Whit Merrifield

SS Adalberto Mondesi

LF Alex Gordon

DH Jorge Soler

C Salvador Perez

1B O'Hearn

3B Dozier

RF Bonifacio

CF Brett Phillips

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals

Inbox: Who are the Phillies' offseason targets?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers questions from fans
MLB.com

What's the backup plan if the Phillies don't get Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?
-- @Ryanmac818

That is an interesting question as the Phillies enter their most highly anticipated offseason since they signed Jim Thome in December of 2002. I still expect the Phillies to sign Harper or Machado. They have been building for this moment too long not to land somebody.

What's the backup plan if the Phillies don't get Bryce Harper or Manny Machado?
-- @Ryanmac818

That is an interesting question as the Phillies enter their most highly anticipated offseason since they signed Jim Thome in December of 2002. I still expect the Phillies to sign Harper or Machado. They have been building for this moment too long not to land somebody.

Submit a question to the Inbox

If they don't? Oh boy. It would upset and likely infuriate some fans, but the Phillies would have options. They could change course and sign somebody like left-hander Patrick Corbin, although Phillies general manager Matt Klentak has made his feelings clear about the starting-pitching market. Corbin, though, would make up for the Phillies' lack of offensive punch. They could pursue an elite closer like Craig Kimbrel, athough they might consider a true closer a poor use of resources. (But just imagine Kimbrel and Seranthony Dominguez pitching the late innings next season.)

If the Phillies beefed up the rotation and bullpen, they could sign second-tier free agents to improve the offense and defense. Third baseman Mike Moustakas makes sense, unless the Phillies would prefer to punt and take a run at Nolan Arenado in 2019. The Phillies could get ultra-aggressive in the trade market, too. They have the resources to make a few deals.

But in the end, the preference is obvious: Harper or Machado. Neither of them will solve all of the Phillies' problems, but it would give them a slugger in the middle of the lineup for the next decade, a slugger who arguably has not reached his prime yet.

Will Roman Quinn be roaming center field next season and will Odubel Herrera still be on the roster?
-- @Any2Cards302

Quinn brings too much energy to the field not to be on the Opening Day roster. Defensively, his four Outs Above Average ranked 34th out of 295 outfielders, according to Statcast™. His sprint speed (30.2 ft/sec) ranked third. The only question is how much do the Phillies trust him?

Everybody knows Quinn's extensive injury history. It would be unwise to enter Spring Training assuming he could play 100-plus games in center field. (He has played more than 92 games just once in seven professional seasons.) Plus, while Quinn hit .362 with a .945 OPS in his first 71 plate appearances this season, he hit .145 with a .495 OPS in his final 72. He played with a broken toe most of September, which likely explains some of the struggles, but there are still concerns.

The Phillies could bring back Herrera, betting he will bounce back following a bad year. They could bet on Aaron Altherr rebounding from a bad year, too. Herrera or Altherr would provide insurance in center field if Quinn is hurt or struggles.

Free-agent outfielders like Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen and Curtis Granderson might make some sense, if they are willing to take a reduced role. Yes, Jones, McCutchen and Granderson are not the defenders they once were, but the Phillies have been unafraid to play players out of position. In theory, they could put somebody like Jones, Granderson or McCutchen in the outfield when a pitcher with a high groundball rate (i.e. Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Corbin, etc.) is on the mound. Plus, there is the added bonus that all of them are regarded as good people to have in the clubhouse, giving the Phillies more veteran leadership.

Will Phillies manager Gabe Kapler manage more from his gut rather than analytics?
-- @JoshuaZlatkin

Kapler is probably watching the postseason, saying, "See?!?!" The A's used a relief pitcher as their "opener" in the AL Wild Card Game last week. They lost. The Brewers bullpened Game 1 of the NL Division Series. They just swept the Rockies in the best-of-five series.

"There aren't going to be hard and fast rules to how we use any of our pitchers," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said before Game 1. "Largely, we're trying to get away from what the word 'starter' and 'reliever' means. That's how we're going to get through the postseason, I think."

When I first read that quote last week I said, "Imagine if Kapler said that."

But Brewers fans aren't complaining, because the Brewers are winning and headed to the NLCS. I suspect complaints about analytics and how Kapler uses them would diminish if the Phillies won, too. But I think some fans' (and players') frustrations comes from the feeling that the Phillies go to extremes at times and that perhaps some of the data is not used effectively. The Phillies dispute this, of course. But the best thing for Kapler might be baseball fans in Philly watching an "opener" or two in a World Series filled with four-man outfields, frequent pitching changes and other unconventional moves.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

Philadelphia Phillies

Inbox: What will Angels' 2019 infield look like?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from Angels fans
MLB.com

General manager Billy Eppler laid out what he's looking for in the next Angels manager during his end of season press conference at Angel Stadium last week.

Tweet from @joeflorkowski: Mike Scioscia received a lot of flak for being seen as "old school" whether that was true or not - any idea on what qualities the Angels front office is looking for in the next skipper?

General manager Billy Eppler laid out what he's looking for in the next Angels manager during his end of season press conference at Angel Stadium last week.

"What we're looking for in that next manager is connectivity with the players," Eppler said. "We're looking for somebody who can think with a probability-based mindset. We're going to look for someone who is eager to grow and evolve. Someone that can develop a culture that will put the welfare of the team above any singular person."

Prior managerial experience will not be required, so I think the Angels could lean toward younger candidates who are well-versed in analytics. More >>

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Tweet from @LSittig: Eppler says he���s looking for durable arms. Any discussion of changing medical staff, trainers or pitching coaches to avoid the huge number of injuries to pitchers��� arms we���ve seen?

Eppler said there will be some changes made regarding the Angels' approach to injury prevention next season, but I don't think he was referring specifically to personnel changes.

"We are going to utilize newer technology to supplement what we have been doing," Eppler said. "There have been new measures introduced in the last few months that we are going to explore."

One Angels pitcher told me he feels like the club's medical staff is actually very proactive when it comes to treating injuries, so I don't think it's fair to blame the trainers for all of the health issues that have befallen the team recently.

Tweet from @Albyers77: What do you think the opening day infield will look like for the Angels?

It's tough to project what the infield will look like right now because there are a lot of question marks at various positions. Andrelton Simmons will undoubtedly be at shortstop. Zack Cozart will flank him at either second or third base, depending on which young player wins a starting job during Spring Training. Third baseman Taylor Ward, second baseman Luis Rengifo and David Fletcher, who can play second or third, will be among the contenders for that spot. If Shohei Ohtani is available to hit by Opening Day, I would expect Albert Pujols to be at first base. If not, Pujols will likely serve as the designated hitter, leaving a potential opening for Jose Fernandez, Matt Thaiss or Jared Walsh at first.

Video: LAA@OAK: Simmons and Cozart turn two in the 5th

Tweet from @Razzball: Will Ohtani get 500+ ABs in 2019?

That number seems a little high, especially since Ohtani's availability for Opening Day has been put in question by Tommy John surgery. The Angels will also have to occasionally start Pujols at DH to give him a break from playing first base, so that could also infringe on Ohtani's at-bats next year. I think his total at-bats will end up being somewhere in the 400 range.

Tweet from @jaydieguez: Which pitching prospects should fans look forward to reading about for spring training?

I suspect you'll hear a lot about left-hander Jose Suarez and right-hander Griffin Canning, both of whom shot from Class A Advanced Inland Empire to Triple-A Salt Lake this season. Suarez, 20, logged a 3.92 ERA in 26 starts with 44 walks and 142 strikeouts over 117 innings. Canning, 22, posted a 3.65 ERA in 25 starts with 44 walks and 125 strikeouts over 113 1/3 innings in his first professional season.

Video: Top Prospects: Griffin Canning, RHP, Angels

Tweet from @BrianWanta: Did the Angels reach 3 million in attendance this year?

Yes. They drew 3,022,216 fans this year, marking the 16th consecutive season in which they've reached 3 million in attendance.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Los Angeles Angels