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Inbox: Markakis part of Braves' offseason plans?

Beat reporter Mark Bowman answers fans' questions
MLB.com

Will the Braves consider re-signing Nick Markakis during the offseason?
-- @DGD2018, via Twitter

This is a question that will likely linger into the early portion of December, if not longer. The Braves have internal options for third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen. Their internal options for an outfielder and a catcher consist of Markakis, Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, who will all be 33 or older by the time the 2019 season begins.

Will the Braves consider re-signing Nick Markakis during the offseason?
-- @DGD2018, via Twitter

This is a question that will likely linger into the early portion of December, if not longer. The Braves have internal options for third base, the starting rotation and the bullpen. Their internal options for an outfielder and a catcher consist of Markakis, Tyler Flowers and Kurt Suzuki, who will all be 33 or older by the time the 2019 season begins.

There's a chance at least one of those players will return next year, but each has been effective enough to expect contract offers that may be longer than the Braves will be willing to extend. Let me once again point out my belief that the primary disadvantage created by the designated hitter is that it provides American League teams the comfort of offering the extra year or two that a National League team can't responsibly offer to players on the wrong side of 30.

Now back to Markakis, whose resurgence during his age-34 season stands as a primary reason the Braves currently possess an NL-high 43 wins. He is a sound contact hitter and strong clubhouse leader -- qualities the Braves value significantly, and his defensive value has improved greatly, courtesy of the analytics that have aided a few Braves in the field this season. But the fact is that Markakis will turn 35 in November and has positioned himself to receive an offer of at least three years.

:: Submit a question to the Braves Inbox ::

This doesn't necessarily exclude the Braves as a potential suitor, but the team will most likely peruse the trade and free-agent markets for younger options before committing to Markakis. Maybe more importantly, a bulk of the club's financial flexibility might be utilized to fill other needs that extend beyond determining which outfielder will pair with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Ender Inciarte next year.

Yeah, the Braves will have approximately $50 million to spend. But as we sit here at the end of June, how that money is allotted will be influenced by a number of variables, including how Austin Riley -- the club's No. 8 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline -- has the team feeling about third base by the end of this year. If Riley isn't deemed ready, there could be a push to sign Manny Machado or Josh Donaldson.

While it's debatable whether third base will be viewed as a primary need, you can certainly expect the pursuit of a closer who may go by the name Craig Kimbrel. With the club's only legit catching prospect (No. 17-ranked William Contreras) still at the Class A level, you can also expect the pursuit of Yasmani Grandal or another available catcher. There's also a chance the Braves will target another outfielder or a frontline starter to pair with Mike Foltynewicz and Sean Newcomb.

Until we get a better feel for what the club's primary needs will be and how expensive it will be to address them, we really won't know the likelihood of a Markakis return.

What's Riley's status?
-- @REdfeldt, via Twitter

Riley has been sidelined since spraining his right posterior cruciate ligament on June 3. His knee has improved, and he now appears to be within two weeks of rejoining Triple-A Gwinnett's lineup. That timetable creates a six-week window for him to provide an indication of whether he can maintain his power potential while reducing his strikeout rate. Riley's production over the remainder of the season will heavily influence what the Braves do during the offseason.

Is Evan Phillips ready for a callup?
-- @dasboot1atl, via Twitter

Braves fans have been clamoring for the arrival of Phillips, a reliever with a 2.31 ERA and 50 strikeouts over 35 innings for Gwinnett. The team has remained patient, allowing the 23-year-old right-hander to further develop his slider. But it now sounds like he will be considered a top candidate the next time there is a need in Atlanta's bullpen.

How is the current arrangement helping Luiz Gohara's development?
-- @JUnderwood9, via Twitter

This has been a very rough year for Gohara, but it seems he's finally in a good place, thanks to some mental perspective. His Spring Training injuries were seemingly a product of the limited preparations he made while dealing with the death of his father and his mother's illness. The struggles he experienced over the past couple of weeks in Atlanta's bullpen appeared to be influenced by his inability to keep his arm fresh during his 10 days in Brazil after his mother's heart surgery.

But Gohara needed to make that visit for peace of mind. He accepted his recent demotion to Gwinnett and showed some promise, recording seven strikeouts over 3 1/3 innings. Each of the three runs he allowed was surrendered within the first inning of his first start since he faced the Phillies on May 23.

Gohara will continue to develop as a starter and could be an asset in Atlanta's rotation at some point this year. But if he fully regains the fastball velocity he had last year and rounds back into form, don't be surprised if the Braves once again give Gohara a chance to provide depth as a multiple-inning reliever who could consistently be used in high-leverage situations.

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

Atlanta Braves

Inbox: Concern over Morton's control lapses?

Beat reporter Brian McTaggart answers Astros fans' questions
MLB.com

The Astros are rolling, having won 13 of 14 games on their way to becoming the Majors' first team to 50 wins this season. As we near the halfway point of the 162-game schedule, let's open the Inbox to see what's on your mind:

In Charlie Morton's last three starts, he has had a lot of walks. Are his control issues just mechanical, or something more?
-- Richard M., Houston

The Astros are rolling, having won 13 of 14 games on their way to becoming the Majors' first team to 50 wins this season. As we near the halfway point of the 162-game schedule, let's open the Inbox to see what's on your mind:

In Charlie Morton's last three starts, he has had a lot of walks. Are his control issues just mechanical, or something more?
-- Richard M., Houston

Morton has walked 14 batters and hit five batters in his past three starts, a span of 15 2/3 innings. It's definitely an issue of mechanics and not repeating pitches, which has led the right-hander to fall behind hitters and issue walks. He's trying to find the right rhythm and cadence in his delivery while trying not to be too perfect or get too sloppy inside the strike zone.

:: Submit a question to the Astros Inbox ::

If Morton gets ahead of hitters, he gets into a tempo and is aggressive in the zone, which helps him zoom along. Lately, if he has made a bad pitch or two, he's lost hitters. It's been a struggle for Morton's past three starts, but on Wednesday, he didn't allow an earned run over six innings despite issuing four two-out walks.

The Astros clearly have their long-term first baseman in Yuli Gurriel. AJ Reed clearly has trade potential. What prevents a Major League team like the Astros from trading a player they clearly don't plan on bringing up to The Show, a player who wants to be traded?
-- Name withheld, Terre Haute, Ind.

We haven't had a question about Reed in a while, so I appreciate this (and I can tell by your Terre Haute address you're obviously following him closely). I think the Astros would trade him if they could, but I don't think he has a lot of value at this point. Reed hasn't performed well in his limited big league time, hitting .156 with three homers and 49 strikeouts in 128 at-bats.

It's clear Reed punishes Triple-A pitching, but there doesn't appear to be a spot for him on the big league club at this point. What's also clear is that if he gets another chance this season, Reed will need to put up some numbers or his days in Houston are probably over.

Why are the Astros handicapping themselves on offense with Jake Marisnick?
-- Bill G., Sugar Land, Texas

Astros manager AJ Hinch was asked about this last weekend in Oakland. Hinch said at the time it was important not to bury Marisnick, who's hitting .176 with 60 strikeouts in 131 at-bats. Hinch said Marisnick is "a Major League player. He's on our team, and he can run the bases. We've got to find a way to get his bat going." Hinch said Marisnick isn't going to be better by sitting on the bench.

Look, Marisnick has some enticing tools. He's an elite defender and baserunner, and he can be a weapon, but he's going to have to figure out a way to make more contact and be more of a contributor offensively to stick with the club for the long run.

Could the batter's eye be partly to blame for the Astros' hitting struggles at Minute Maid Park, or are they just due to the way the park is shaped? It seems like something is up when they have completely raked away from home for two years in a row.
-- Austin H., Austin, Texas

I definitely think there is something to the home-road splits, even if the team won't admit to it publicly. You can bet the Astros have done some research on this and have some answers. Blaming the batter's eye, I think, makes some sense, considering how much better Houston has hit on the road over the past two seasons. Remember, Tal's Hill was removed prior to the 2017 season, and that's when the new batter's eye was unveiled.

When the Astros were crushing the ball in Oakland last week, a few players said how much they like to hit at the Coliseum because of the batter's eye, which is large and devoid of notable distractions. The batter's eye at Minute Maid Park was expanded on the fly last year, and there are a lot of colors and advertisements out there that may be distracting to hitters.

Who will be up first, Forrest Whitley or Kyle Tucker?
-- Chris S., Cypress, Texas

Great question about Houston's top two prospects, respectively, as ranked by MLB Pipeline. Whitley has been dominant in three appearances at Double-A Corpus Christi since his 50-game suspension ended (18 strikeouts in 12 scoreless innings), and Tucker is having a nice season at Triple-A Fresno (.301/.372/.492 with nine homers and 54 RBIs in 65 games). That said, I think the answer to your question is Whitley. The kid's got great stuff and could help the Astros out this year.

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros

Inbox: How will Ray's return shape rotation?

Beat reporter Steve Gilbert answers questions from D-backs fans
MLB.com

What happens when Robbie Ray comes back? Will Clay Buchholz go back to Triple-A?
-- @FreeshKidYeesh via Twitter

It appears, judging by the roster move the D-backs made on Wednesday to option Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno and call up reliever Jake Barrett, that they will activate Shelby Miller to take Koch's spot in the rotation the next time through. As for when Ray returns, he could replace Buchholz in the rotation, or it's possible that Miller might need some time in the bullpen as he regains his arm strength.

What happens when Robbie Ray comes back? Will Clay Buchholz go back to Triple-A?
-- @FreeshKidYeesh via Twitter

It appears, judging by the roster move the D-backs made on Wednesday to option Matt Koch to Triple-A Reno and call up reliever Jake Barrett, that they will activate Shelby Miller to take Koch's spot in the rotation the next time through. As for when Ray returns, he could replace Buchholz in the rotation, or it's possible that Miller might need some time in the bullpen as he regains his arm strength.

• Submit a question to the D-backs Inbox

Tweet from @Dbacks: #Dbacks recall Jake Barrett from the Triple-A Reno @Aces. Following last night���s game, Matt Koch was optioned to Reno.

Arizona could also move one of the other starters to the bullpen, as well. Another option (that doesn't sound likely) is the D-backs going with a six-man rotation. We floated that idea by manager Torey Lovullo on Tuesday, and he didn't seem to like it. Buchholz has been very good this season for Arizona, registering a 2.94 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in six starts.

How concerned should we be about Archie Bradley's nail issue? He is our best relief pitcher and my favorite, too.
-- Sandra C., Phoenix

I don't think I would be too concerned just yet. Bradley said he has been pitching with this since Spring Training, and he still has been effective this season with a 2.27 ERA entering the D-backs' series against the Pirates on Thursday. Obviously, it's not ideal for him to be unable to throw his curveball in some games, and my guess is the organization would have preferred that this information never have become public, because you don't want hitters knowing that the only pitch you can throw sometimes is a fastball.

However, because the nail issue comes and goes, hitters still have to respect that Bradley could throw his curveball at any time, since they won't know if his nail is split when facing him on any given night. It sounds like Bradley has worked hard to try to find solutions and that the fake nails, for now, are enough to keep him pitching.

• Bradley dealing with nagging fingernail issue

Steve, Mariners fan from Seattle here. I root for teams with Japanese players to win the World Series. Yoshihisa Hirano is pretty good! Will he will receive All-Star consideration?
-- Craig O., Seattle

Hirano is having an excellent year for the D-backs and has probably been better than they could have even hoped for when they signed him to a two-year free-agent contract in December. If he continues to perform at this level -- he has a 1.42 ERA through his first 35 appearances -- I think he could certainly get some All-Star consideration. Admittedly, I haven't sat down just yet to look at how the National League roster might shake out.

Video: PIT@ARI: Hirano retires Rodriguez to leave 2 on base

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

Arizona Diamondbacks, Clay Buchholz, Robbie Ray

Inbox: Prospects readying for Majors

Maria Guardado answers fans' queries about callups, Trade Deadline
MLB.com

Who are some of the top prospects, if any, that we can expect to get called up in September? Matt Thaiss? -- Doug, @troutsupreme1xd

Who are some of the top prospects, if any, that we can expect to get called up in September? Matt Thaiss? -- Doug, @troutsupreme1xd

Tweet from @troutsupreme1xd: Who are some of the top prospects, if any, that we can expect to get called up in September? Matt Thaiss?

Thaiss, the Angels' first-round Draft pick in 2016, seems like a solid bet, as he's currently batting .340 with a 1.003 OPS over 23 games with Triple-A Salt Lake. Taylor Ward, the club's top pick in 2015, is another strong candidate for a September callup. Originally drafted as a catcher, Ward transitioned to third base this year and is now hitting .340 with a .971 OPS over 57 games between Double-A Mobile and Triple-A Salt Lake.

Left-hander Jose Suarez and right-hander Griffin Canning are two other intriguing possibilities. Suarez, 20, opened the season at Class A Advanced Inland Empire and has already climbed to Triple-A Salt Lake, posting a 3.06 ERA over 61 2/3 innings with a 12.8 K/9 across three Minor League levels. Canning, the Angels' second-round Draft pick out of UCLA last year, is currently pitching at Double-A Mobile, where he's logged a 1.97 ERA over 45 2/3 innings and started two combined no-hitters.

Submit a question to the Angels Inbox

Will the Angels try to pick up a bullpen piece, if anything, by the Deadline, or are they completely out at this point? -- Sean, @BodeineBrazy

Tweet from @BodeineBrazy: Will the angels try to pick up a bullpen piece, if anything by the deadline, or are they completely out at this point?

The Angels are facing a pretty significant deficit -- 9 1/2 games out of first place in the American League West and 7 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second Wild Card spot -- but I think it's still too early for them to throw in the towel. Six weeks remain until the non-waiver Trade Deadline, so I think the Angels still have time to try to close the gap and set themselves up to potentially make a run in the second half.

The bullpen, which is tied for the Major League lead with 15 blown saves this year, has been shaky, so I would expect the Angels to look for upgrades if they feel they still have a shot at contending. Two of the best available relievers -- Alex Colome and Kelvin Herrera -- have already come off the board, but there should still be plenty of other options on the trade market for teams in search of relief help, including the Reds' Raisel Iglesias, the Orioles' Zach Britton, the Tigers' Shane Greene, the Mets' Jeurys Familia and the Padres' Brad Hand.

What are the chances that @d22fletcher will get more opportunities at third base when Cozart gets back? -- John Challenger, @JohnSChallenger

Tweet from @JohnSChallenger: What are the chances that @d22fletcher will get more opportunities at third base when Cozart gets back?

David Fletcher has impressed so far, going 5-for-13 and playing strong defense over his first six games, but I think it would be tough for him to unseat a veteran like Zack Cozart, who signed a three-year, $38 million deal over the offseason. Fletcher could force his way into the lineup more often if he continues to hit, but I would expect Cozart to still play regularly once he returns from the disabled list.

Is there any possibility that Shoemaker will pitch this season and could hopefully help the team get a Wild Card spot? -- Frank Lujan, @Mean_lujan14

Tweet from @Mean_lujan14: Is there any possibility that Shoemaker will pitch this season and could hopefully help the team get a wildcard spot?

Matt Shoemaker, who underwent right forearm surgery last month, is projected to begin a throwing program in two to three weeks, so he could return to pitch for the Angels in August if his rehab unfolds smoothly.

What is the likelihood of the Angels going after one of the free-agent third basemen next winter? -- Bill B., San Diego

The Angels haven't gotten as much production as they would have hoped out of third base this season -- their .649 OPS at the position is the third-lowest mark in the Majors -- so one possibility would be to shift Cozart to second base and pursue an upgrade this winter. There will certainly be several notable third basemen available on the free-agent market, including Manny Machado, Josh Donaldson and Mike Moustakas. None of those players are likely to come cheap, however, so it remains to be seen if the Angels would be willing to meet their asking prices. If not, the Angels do have a few internal options they could deploy at third base, namely Fletcher, Ward, Jefry Marte and Kaleb Cowart.

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

Los Angeles Angels

Inbox: How soon until Marlins see Harrison?

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

Is Monte Harrison or Isan Diaz close to getting called up? -- @SpeedyN7

Harrison, an outfielder, and Diaz, a second baseman, were both part of the Christian Yelich trade with the Brewers. Per MLB Pipeline, Harrison is the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, and Diaz is seventh. The two are currently at Double-A Jacksonville, and neither is currently on the 40-man roster, so neither is a candidate to be called up to the big leagues any time soon. A more likely promotion could be to Triple-A New Orleans, but that would depend on how they're progressing by the end of July. Both have shown flashes of their raw talents, but they've also dealt with inconsistencies. Harrison has nine home runs, but his slash line is .225/.312/.391 in 68 games. Since Spring Training, the Marlins staff has been refining his swing. Diaz is batting .239/.368/.376 with five home runs. The second baseman missed time after being struck on the helmet by a pitch.

Is Monte Harrison or Isan Diaz close to getting called up? -- @SpeedyN7

Harrison, an outfielder, and Diaz, a second baseman, were both part of the Christian Yelich trade with the Brewers. Per MLB Pipeline, Harrison is the Marlins' No. 1 prospect, and Diaz is seventh. The two are currently at Double-A Jacksonville, and neither is currently on the 40-man roster, so neither is a candidate to be called up to the big leagues any time soon. A more likely promotion could be to Triple-A New Orleans, but that would depend on how they're progressing by the end of July. Both have shown flashes of their raw talents, but they've also dealt with inconsistencies. Harrison has nine home runs, but his slash line is .225/.312/.391 in 68 games. Since Spring Training, the Marlins staff has been refining his swing. Diaz is batting .239/.368/.376 with five home runs. The second baseman missed time after being struck on the helmet by a pitch.

What players realistically get traded at Deadline? I am thinking Starlin Castro, as it allows Brian Anderson to go to third base with Miguel Rojas or JT Riddle to second. Martin Prado is probably not healthy enough to draw interest. Dan Straily? J.T. Realmuto? Cameron Maybin? Brad Ziegler? -- @putter1013

The Marlins will listen to what opportunities are out there, but with the indications I'm getting, I'm not sure how active the club will be. There is plenty of speculation on Realmuto, and that goes back to the offseason. But clubs already know the asking price is extremely high, so I'm not sure he is a realistic trade option. Also, the Marlins don't want to part with Realmuto, because he is part of what they are building. He isn't a free agent until 2021, so there is no urgency to trade one of the top catchers in the game. As for Castro, it would be a matter of who needs a second baseman? Prado is on the disabled list and is not a realistic trade candidate. Straily, first baseman Justin Bour and Zielger could attract interest, and could be the most likely trade candidates.

Submit a question to the Marlins Inbox

The international signing period is coming up, any rumors on who the Marlins are pursuing? -- @drguava

Fernando Seguignol is the organization's new director of international operations. He is highly respected and accomplished, and the organization is actively scouting the market. The signing period begins on July 2. A name the Marlins have been linked to is Cuban right-hander Sandy Gaston. The 16-year-old is ranked 14th on MLB Pipeline's Top 30 International list. His fastball has touched 97 mph, and it sits at 94-95. His command is an issue going forward.

Does Magneuris Sierra have a future in the Marlins' outfield? We already have Lewis Brinson, Harrison and Peter O'Brien. -- Akivan, Miami Beach, Fla.

Ranked by MLB Pipeline as the Marlins' No. 6 prospect, Sierra is a speedy center fielder who just turned 22 in April. He absolutely is part of their long-term plans. His production is down slightly from a year ago when he was in the Cardinals' system, but he missed almost all of Spring Training due to a left hamstring strain. A low walk rate is a little concerning, but Sierra is similar to other speedsters who lack power. Dee Gordon, for instance, also doesn't walk much, yet he has been an All-Star. Sierra can be that kind of player. Would he play center or a corner spot? Brinson currently is in center. When Sierra is ready, the organization will have to sort the positions out. You mention Harrison, who can play center, but likely would profile in right. O'Brien is more of a first baseman, and organizational depth.

With the way Kyle Barraclough is pitching, do you think the Marlins will try to sell high with him or hold onto him? -- @BrendenKatz

We see it every year, there is always a strong market for relievers around the Trade Deadline on July 31. The Royals just dealt Kelvin Herrera to the Nationals, so teams already are making moves. Barraclough qualifies for arbitration next year, so he has three more years of club control. Like Realmuto, Barraclough is a piece the club prefers to build around. However, if an offer is made that is too enticing to pass up, Barraclough could be moved.

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 can Cards expect from Holland?

Jenifer Langosch returns to answer questions about the Cards closer, Machado trade packages and parenting
MLB.com

ST. LOUIS -- Hello, old friends. It's good to have my byline back and to start interacting with you again as we get ready for what projects to be a fascinating second half in the National League Central. Before diving into your questions, I'd be remiss not to recognize the outstanding work Joe Trezza did filling in while I was away on maternity leave. I trust that you enjoyed his content and perspective.

OK, now onto the good stuff:

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- Hello, old friends. It's good to have my byline back and to start interacting with you again as we get ready for what projects to be a fascinating second half in the National League Central. Before diving into your questions, I'd be remiss not to recognize the outstanding work Joe Trezza did filling in while I was away on maternity leave. I trust that you enjoyed his content and perspective.

OK, now onto the good stuff:

View Full Game Coverage

Given Greg Holland's poor performance at the big league level, his very poor performance vs. Minor Leaguers in rehab stints, real blown saves, real losses and a high ERA, what has to happen to have him go the way of Jonathan Broxton and Jhonny Peralta?
-- Doug M., @BeyondTheArk

The leash can't be that much longer for Holland. Yes, releasing him midseason would require the Cardinals to eat whatever is left on his $14 million deal. But the fact that he's on a one-year contract makes that more palatable. Results aren't always paramount in a Minor League rehab assignment, but Holland's were concerning on the heels of a terrible first two months in St. Louis.

He'll get another chance -- the Cardinals plan to activate him from the disabled list this week -- but if Holland remains a liability in the 'pen, I can't imagine that chance lasting more than a few weeks. With other relievers expected off the disabled list before the All-Star break, the Cardinals are going to soon be squeezed for space anyway.

My question is about Manny Machado. It has been reported that the Cards had the most substantial package [this offseason], but backed off. What would said package look like, and is it still a possibility?
-- Pete J., @MRJTeacherMan

Acquiring Machado last winter would have cost any club more in talent than it will now, given that he's several months closer to free agency. But the hit would still hurt. The Orioles would likely zero in on acquiring standout pitching prospects in order to make such a deal, and that could make the likes of Jordan Hicks, Jack Flaherty, Luke Weaver and Dakota Hudson targets. The Cardinals prefer not to mortgage future depth for a one-year player, which makes doing so for a two-month rental even more unlikely.

What's up with Ryan Sherriff? Did he actually have Tommy John surgery? Why hasn't the club announced it? And does this injury occurring when he wasn't on the Major League roster essentially tie the club up, or could they put him on the 60-day disabled list and free up a spot on the 40-man roster?
-- Oliver B., @OliverBacus

The Cardinals did recently confirm that Sherriff will be out for the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The club can move him onto the 60-day disabled list and will do so when they need to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. They just haven't had that impetus to this point. It's the same flexibility the club has with Alex Reyes, who remains on the 10-day DL even though he won't pitch again in 2018.

Is Paul DeJong expected to make a rehab appearance with Triple-A Memphis or Double-A Springfield?
-- Rich D., @richdameron

The Cardinals tend to make those decisions based on which affiliate is home at the time a player goes out on a rehab assignment, so timing will determine that. DeJong might even spend time in Class A ball if the club chooses to transfer his rehab work to Florida, where the Cardinals have extensive resources at their Spring Training facility.

Before any assignment is set, though, DeJong first has a few more hurdles to clear. He traveled with the Cardinals to Philadelphia after starting to swing a bat again. By the end of the week, he hopes to be taking batting practice. Seeing how his surgically repaired left hand responds to that test will help clarify a timeline for return.

We haven't heard much about innings limits for Jack Flaherty. Does the front office have a plan to scale back his innings as the season goes on?
-- Matt H.

You haven't heard much on the topic because there isn't a high level of concern. Unlike Reyes, who was coming off a season missed due to injury, Flaherty logged 148 2/3 innings in 2017. Right now, he's on pace to throw 193. The Cardinals won't let him get that high, but that can be managed by shifting schedules around the All-Star break or skipping a start here or there. Whatever the method, the Cardinals won't back themselves into a spot where they'll be shutting Flaherty down in September because of workload concerns.

Only baseball-related [questions]? Because I'm a soon-to-be-dad who has lots of questions about how to up my dad WAR and wRC+.
-- David J., @iPopEditor

My advice: Never shy away from handling a dirty diaper. Don't sleep through the inevitable middle-of-the-night chaos. Surprise your wife by picking up other household chores you wouldn't normally do (without being asked). Manage the inevitable influx of visitors. Read the directions when building baby furniture/gear. And never complain about being tired because, trust me, she'll be more so.

Oh, and if your wife downloads an expectant-dad app onto your phone, don't approach her in the middle of the third trimester asking if she knows your password. Unless, of course, you're OK with her knowing you never read a thing it had to say.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

St. Louis Cardinals, Paul DeJong, Greg Holland, Ryan Sherriff

Inbox: Can Tigers stay in title race?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fan questions
MLB.com

DETROIT -- Sorting through the inbox at a coffee shop on the road from Detroit to Cincinnati:

DETROIT -- Sorting through the inbox at a coffee shop on the road from Detroit to Cincinnati:

The Tigers have a chance to hang in the Indians' rear-view mirror. The problem will be what happens next month, as the Trade Deadline approaches and the goals of Detroit and Cleveland split off. The Indians' window to contend is now -- not just for the division, but the World Series, and one would expect them to make the deals they need to improve for the stretch run. Detroit's window is in the future, and general manager Al Avila made it clear Sunday that the club's surprising performance of late isn't going to change that.

Submit a question to the Tigers Inbox

If the right offer comes along that makes the Tigers better in the long run, they'll trade away key parts at the Deadline, whether they're close in the race or not. If not, they'll stand pat. They will not trade prospects to get veteran players and make a run at the division.

Yes, as my MLB.com colleague Jon Morosi wrote Monday, there's trade interest building in Matthew Boyd, who has quietly become one of the American League's pitching surprises this year. He's having a breakout season at an age (27) when pitchers tend to figure things out about their game. Boyd is a cost-controlled pitcher who hasn't hit arbitration eligibility yet, though that could happen this coming offseason depending on the Super Two cutoff. He has four more seasons before free agency. Plus, Boyd is versatile enough that he can slot into a team's bullpen depending on the need.

That doesn't mean the Tigers will deal him at next month's Trade Deadline. But if they're willing to listen to interest in Michael Fulmer, they'll listen to interest in Boyd. Remember, if you count top pick Casey Mize, Detroit's top five prospects according to MLB Pipeline are starting pitchers, so this is an area of long-term depth.

Though the Tigers made a big prospect shift Monday by promoting right-hander Alex Faedo (Detroit's No. 3 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline) and center field Daz Cameron (No. 9) from Class A Advanced Lakeland to Double-A Erie, that doesn't necessarily make a promotion imminent for right-hander Beau Burrows (No. 4) and Christin Stewart (No. 10). While I think Burrows will pitch at Triple-A Toledo sometime this summer, I think it's more likely the Tigers will wait a little while longer, maybe until top prospect Franklin Perez returns from his lat injury. That said, Avila was in Erie on Monday to see Burrows pitch against a pretty good lineup for New Hampshire, the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate.

Stewart is on a different timetable, and Avila gave every indication Sunday the club was going to remain patient with him. He's more likely to be a late-season callup at this point, giving him more time to work in left field.

Daniel Norris is currently on a throwing progression in Lakeland, Fla., according to manager Ron Gardenhire. He still has a while to go before he pitches in games, and he'll surely make a Minor League rehab assignment when he does. The important thing for the Tigers now is to get Norris healthy and keep him healthy, giving him a chance to focus on pitching when he does come back.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers

Inbox: When will Davis return to lineup?

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers fans' questions
MLB.com

When will Chris Davis return to the lineup and do you think anything will change?
-- Michael A., Columbus, Ohio

Right now, it looks like Davis probably won't start on Tuesday in Washington, though it's looking like he's pretty close to getting back. If he does return for the end of the Nationals series, he'll face a tough task with Gio Gonzalez the second day and Max Scherzer in Thursday's series finale. But this is the big leagues, and there's never going to be an ideal spot to return.

When will Chris Davis return to the lineup and do you think anything will change?
-- Michael A., Columbus, Ohio

Right now, it looks like Davis probably won't start on Tuesday in Washington, though it's looking like he's pretty close to getting back. If he does return for the end of the Nationals series, he'll face a tough task with Gio Gonzalez the second day and Max Scherzer in Thursday's series finale. But this is the big leagues, and there's never going to be an ideal spot to return.

Davis -- on pace for one of the worst offensive seasons in history -- has been working early on the field with hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh and vice president of baseball operations Brady Anderson to try to figure things out. It's tough to say if anything will be different this time around, though this has been a pretty long layoff for Davis, who hasn't played since last Monday.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

I've said it before and it bears repeating: The Orioles can't just stash Davis on the bench. One, it forces them to play short. Two, the O's have four more years committed to Davis. So if he won't go to Triple-A to work on stuff, the only reasonable option was to sit him a few days and hope he can gain confidence from some adjustments and start to improve. Will this work? I have no idea, but it was worth a shot.

Why send down a rookie like Chance Sisco in a lost season?
-- Darleen R., Columbia, Md.

It was unexpected to see Sisco demoted to Triple-A Norfolk after Sunday's game, but this will give him a chance to work on some defensive parts of his game with less of a spotlight. It's not that he has fallen in the organization's eyes or that his offense wasn't great (as most of the team is slumping). It'll do the rookie some good to get some reps at Norfolk, and the Orioles should benefit from veteran Caleb Joseph rejoining the club.

Are the Orioles still planning on trading Manny Machado? What's the holdup if so?
-- Gery D., Washington, D.C.

Yes, of course they're still exploring trades for Machado. I understand the logic that he's worth more the more games he plays for another team, but this isn't really something you want to rush. Machado is one of the best players in the game right now, and the Orioles have to make sure they get the best possible package they can for him. Obviously you're going to start to see trade rumors heat up over the next few weeks. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette did say last week that nothing had gotten close enough with Machado and other teams to warrant exchanging names. But that can change quickly.

What's the plan with Andrew Cashner?
-- James T., Towson, Md.

Cashner is set to start on Wednesday in D.C. after a side session over the weekend went OK. The initial thought would be with Davis returning to the lineup that the O's would get rid of a position player for his arrival. But that's contingent on what state the pitching is in following Tuesday's game.

Is Machado the only player the Orioles are looking to deal? We're going to need more to actually rebuild.
-- Chris M., Providence, R.I. 

Yes, I agree. Machado isn't going to bring back a haul to reshape the organization. (He may have a year or two ago, but he's just a rental now with free agency pending this offseason.) To that end, the Orioles have to look at trading Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Adam Jones, who are all pending free agents. But beyond that, I think they have to make decisions on guys like Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy. Are they going to be part of the next great Orioles team? If the answer is no, you have to at least listen to offers. Teams that want to shorten painful rebuilds aren't afraid to make tough decisions and unpopular trades. I'm not saying you have to trade those two, but I wouldn't rule anything out as the O's try to rebuild for the future.

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: Who has had biggest impact this season?

Beat reporter Greg Johns answers questions from Mariners fans
MLB.com

Who do you think has made the biggest impact on the Mariners' success thus far? And who has been the biggest surprise?
-- Jay A., Mililani, Hawaii

There are a lot of guys having outstanding seasons, particularly Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. But I'm going with Edwin Diaz as the one player who has been the biggest reason for the Mariners' amazing success in one-run games, which is a huge part of why they're exceeding expectations. Diaz is on pace for 61 saves, which would be one shy of the Major League record set by Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels in 2008. No other closer has ever totaled more than 57.

Who do you think has made the biggest impact on the Mariners' success thus far? And who has been the biggest surprise?
-- Jay A., Mililani, Hawaii

There are a lot of guys having outstanding seasons, particularly Jean Segura and Mitch Haniger. But I'm going with Edwin Diaz as the one player who has been the biggest reason for the Mariners' amazing success in one-run games, which is a huge part of why they're exceeding expectations. Diaz is on pace for 61 saves, which would be one shy of the Major League record set by Francisco Rodriguez with the Angels in 2008. No other closer has ever totaled more than 57.

:: Submit a question to the Mariners Inbox ::

With 27 saves and 62 strikeouts in Seattle's first 71 games, Diaz has already become the first American League closer ever to notch 25 saves and 60 strikeouts by the All-Star break -- which is just under a month away.

The Mariners' record for saves by the Midsummer Classic is 29 by Kazuhiro Sasaki in 2001, while the MLB record is 38 by Rodriguez in his historic '08 season. And when entering a game with a one-run lead, Diaz has been money, recording 17 of 19 saves with a 0.93 ERA, 35 strikeouts and five walks while allowing just two runs in 19 1/3 innings. Seattle is 19-0 in those games.

Tweet from @Mariners: .@EdiDiaz44 just isn't fair.#GoMariners pic.twitter.com/l1UCsTEKbW

As for biggest surprise? It'd be pretty hard not to pick Wade LeBlanc, given he wasn't even on the team until getting picked up in the final days of Spring Training and wasn't part of the rotation until Erasmo Ramirez got hurt. He has been outstanding, and along with Marco Gonzales, has provided far better starting pitching depth than most people expected.

I've read that the Mariners and Yankees may both be interested in J.A. Happ, but even if we got him, who gets displaced? Felix Hernandez has been the weakest starter. Would they replace him?
-- Burch W., Tumwater, Wash.

Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto may well add another starter before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but it's worth remembering that there are still six weeks to go before then. While Dipoto moved quickly to add Alex Colome and Denard Span to plug holes in the bullpen and outfield, he doesn't need to rush to add a starter at this point. A lot can happen in six weeks, so my guess is that Seattle will talk to a lot of teams and have some scenarios in mind, but the club will wait to pull the trigger on any major moves until it sees how things play out with Hernandez -- and all the others, for that matter -- in terms of health and how well the team is performing as we hit mid-to-late July.

With LeBlanc doing such a great job in the rotation, what will the Mariners do when Ramirez comes back?
-- Scott B., Hillsboro, Ore.

Given how well LeBlanc is pitching, it's pretty clear he has earned the right to remain in the rotation for now. But that's not even an issue at this point since Ramirez isn't anywhere close to returning. He has begun some light throwing, but he will need to build his arm back up as if he was starting Spring Training again. That means he's looking at August or beyond in the best-case scenario. And again, a lot can happen that could impact whether the Mariners need Ramirez in the rotation or not.

Video: BOS@SEA: LeBlanc strikes out 9 over 7 2/3 scoreless

I understand that Robinson Cano can't play in the postseason. I've read that a bunch of times. But what I haven't read is why. Is it just that it comes with the suspension or the amount of games missed? How does that work?
-- Jeff P., Yokosuka, Japan

In 2014, MLB and the MLB Players Association agreed to toughen the penalties for players who test positive for banned substances. At that point, the penalty for a first failed test increased from 50 to 80 games, a second failed test raised from 100 to 162 games and a third violation remained a lifetime ban. The two sides also agreed at that time that any player suspended for a failed drug test would be ineligible for postseason play as well as postseason pay for that season.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.

Seattle Mariners

Inbox: Who's odd man out in a healthy outfield?

Beat reporter AJ Cassavell answers questions from Padres fans
MLB.com

How do we look at the outfield problem now? Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are playing well right now. When Franchy Cordero and Wil Myers come back, who's guaranteed a spot?
-- Austin, Santee, Calif.

Before we get ahead of ourselves: We've been asking some version of this question since Spring Training, but injuries have prevented the Padres from having their full contingent of outfielders. Right now, they're probably closer than they've ever been, with both Myers (left oblique strain) and Cordero (right forearm strain) on rehab assignments. But let's pump the brakes and acknowledge this as a hypothetical.

How do we look at the outfield problem now? Travis Jankowski, Manuel Margot and Hunter Renfroe are playing well right now. When Franchy Cordero and Wil Myers come back, who's guaranteed a spot?
-- Austin, Santee, Calif.

Before we get ahead of ourselves: We've been asking some version of this question since Spring Training, but injuries have prevented the Padres from having their full contingent of outfielders. Right now, they're probably closer than they've ever been, with both Myers (left oblique strain) and Cordero (right forearm strain) on rehab assignments. But let's pump the brakes and acknowledge this as a hypothetical.

In any case, San Diego wants to make sure all of those guys are getting regular at-bats. Franmil Reyes is almost certain to give way, barring some sort of huge breakout over the next week. I'd also expect Matt Szczur to stay on board as a fifth-outfielder type who can serve as a pinch-runner, pinch-hitter and defensive replacement.

:: Submit a question to the Padres Inbox ::

That leaves four spots for the five guys mentioned above. If Myers is healthy, he's playing. Margot, still viewed as the center fielder of the future, probably gets regular at-bats, too. That leaves Cordero, Renfroe and Jankowski for two places. Based on merit, the top two will stick in the Majors and the other will be headed for Triple-A. But don't be shocked if the Padres explore trade possibilities for Jankowski and Renfroe at the non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Does Matt Strahm get stretched out to be a starter this year?
-- Craig M., San Diego

Technically, of course, Strahm is already starting. But if you're looking for a more traditional five- or six-inning outing from Strahm, we're still a ways away from that.

Strahm has been excellent as the first pitcher on bullpen day, routinely working two or three innings before giving way to the rest of the relief corps. In those four "starts," Strahm has allowed one run in 10 innings while striking out 11. Naturally, that's led to some serious excitement about what Strahm might offer as a regular member of the rotation. In the big picture, the Padres are eager to find out. In the short term, however, they're not going to push him.

Strahm is less than a year removed from major left knee surgery, and he's still building strength in the lower half of his body. On a couple of occasions, Strahm has seen his velocity dip in the third inning of his starts. The 26-year-old left-hander could very well work his way toward a five-inning effort this season. But those deeper outings almost certainly wouldn't come on a regular basis.

We have a good idea of the trade return for Brad Hand. What would be the return for Craig Stammen and/or Kirby Yates?
-- Campbell D., Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.

Indeed, nothing has changed on the Hand front. The Padres will ask for a lot. As one of the game's elite left-handers, he's been likened to Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman when they were dealt at the Deadline in 2016. General manager A.J. Preller is expecting a similarly lucrative return. Once again, Hand's name is certain to grab headlines over the next month.

That said, it's just as likely that Yates and Stammen will be shopped. They've been excellent this season and could be useful pieces in a playoff-bound bullpen. The Padres, who boast one of the league's deepest crops of relievers, could probably withstand losing one or two top arms.

So what would San Diego get in return? Yates has two more seasons of arbitration after this year. Stammen has a year and a half left on a very affordable deal. Neither is a rental, meaning both could help fetch a mid-level prospect. Perhaps just as likely: The Padres could package one or both of them with Tyson Ross for a return similar to what they got last season from the Royals. In that deal, San Diego sent a pair of relievers and a veteran righty starter to Kansas City. The Padres landed Strahm and highly touted infield prospect Esteury Ruiz (currently ranked No. 10 in the system).

How optimistic are the Padres that Austin Hedges will improve enough as a hitter to at least become close to league average?
-- Sergio Q., Tijuana, Mexico

"League average" might be a stretch for Hedges, especially in the immediate future. In parts of four big league seasons, Hedges owns an OPS+ of 57. And while there is precedent for catchers to figure things out on offense later in their careers, right now Hedges isn't close to being league average at the dish.

The Padres are just fine with that. They aren't looking for league average from Hedges. He contributes so much defensively -- whether framing, game-calling, blocking or throwing -- that any offense is a plus. Hedges merely needs to be a serviceable No. 8 hitter in their lineup.

Last season, Hedges batted .214/.262/.398 with 18 dingers. Those numbers aren't particularly good. But if he can boost his on-base percentage just a bit, San Diego would take the rest of that line. The Padres could slot Hedges in at No. 8, where he'd offer the occasional offensive contribution. And he'd do that while anchoring the pitching staff as well as anyone in baseball. That's an acceptable yearly output in the team's eyes.

AJ Cassavell covers the Padres for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ajcassavell.

San Diego Padres

Inbox: Could Devers end up on trade block?

Beat reporter Ian Browne answers questions from Red Sox fans
MLB.com

Is it me or is Rafael Devers starting to hit a little more? I also saw an article about the potential of a Deadline trade with Devers involved. I can't imagine the Red Sox would do that.
-- @bbcoachshawn

Devers has looked a little better of late. Since June 6, he has hit .313 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Devers is only 21 years old, and it's far too early for the Red Sox to give up on him. Even with someone like Travis Shaw, it is evident how risky it can be to trade a power hitter. I'd be stunned if Boston traded Devers.

Is it me or is Rafael Devers starting to hit a little more? I also saw an article about the potential of a Deadline trade with Devers involved. I can't imagine the Red Sox would do that.
-- @bbcoachshawn

Devers has looked a little better of late. Since June 6, he has hit .313 with four doubles, two homers and seven RBIs. Devers is only 21 years old, and it's far too early for the Red Sox to give up on him. Even with someone like Travis Shaw, it is evident how risky it can be to trade a power hitter. I'd be stunned if Boston traded Devers.

What do think about trading Devers and a couple of prospects for Manny Machado? He knows how to play third base and the Sox have some good prospects coming up who can also play third in case they cannot sign Machado. I think it would really strengthen their chances of going all the way.
-- Stephen C., Seekonk, Mass.

I don't like that idea at all. Machado is a rental at this point and Devers could be a productive player at an affordable cost for another five years after this one. I'd hang on to Devers. He has a lot of power and a bright future.

:: Submit a question to the Red Sox Inbox ::

Who do the Red Sox need to pick up before the Trade Deadline and why?
-- @Jmighill

It seems like setup relief is their biggest area of need. Joe Kelly is a top eighth-inning guy and Matt Barnes is pretty solid in the seventh, but it feels like they could still use some more depth in front of closer Craig Kimbrel. A power lefty would fit in nicely with the rest of the group.

Will Brandon Workman still be on the team when Drew Pomeranz returns?
-- @steve_blundell

If Workman is pitching well, he could stay, even with Pomeranz. Hector Velazquez is one pitcher who still has Minor League options. Justin Haley is also currently on the roster, so he can certainly be sent down. The better question is this: How will Pomeranz be used when he does return, assuming he gets healthy? I feel like Pomeranz could turn into the lefty arm in the bullpen the team needs, much like David Price did late last season. Pitching in relief, his velocity could tick back up.

Mitch Moreland, Xander Bogaerts, Andrew Benintendi -- chances for the All-Star Game?
-- @abromson

At least by fan balloting, Moreland has the best chance at this point. In the most recent batch of voting, he was second behind Jose Abreu, and not trailing by that much. Benintendi belongs in the conversation. Among American League outfielders, Moreland ranks sixth in OPS -- and that includes J.D. Martinez, who has a strong chance to get voted on to the All-Star team as a designated hitter. Bogaerts has some tough competition in Machado, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor.

What do you think of this lineup? Holt LF, Bogaerts SS, Benintendi CF, Betts RF, Martinez DH, Moreland 1B, Nunez 2B, Devers 3B, Leon/Vazquez C. This bolsters the middle of the order, keeps the lefties separated and improves the 7-8-9 spots.
-- Adam P., Apollo Beach, Fla.

Jackie Bradley Jr.'s defense is special, and I'd give him about another month to see if he can generate some momentum at the plate. I like Brock Holt much better as a bench player. He's always been more effective in that role. Manager Alex Cora isn't moving Mookie Betts out of the leadoff spot. He likes having his most dynamic player come to the plate as often as possible.

I see that Adam Lind has been signed to a Minor League contract. What are the plans for him? He could add some great depth off the bench as a September callup -- or before if three are more injuries.
-- Chris F., Portland, Maine

The plans are pretty much as you've outlined. Lind represents organizational depth. At this point, the Red Sox don't have a spot for Lind. But if something happens to Blake Swihart -- either a trade or an injury -- there could be a role for Lind, who had a pretty good 2017 season.

Dustin Pedroia is the heart and soul of the Red Sox. But how much longer can he play in the Majors with his bad knee?
-- Phil R., Dallas

The hope is that the extensive surgery Pedroia had will allow his left knee to get better, and for him to be able to play a few more years. His contract has another three seasons after this one. It's not a good sign that Pedroia suffered inflammation in the knee after just three games. But on the other hand, no position player has ever had this particular surgery, so it's a bit of an unknown how long it takes for a complete recovery. The Red Sox have pretty good depth at second right now between Eduardo Nunez and Holt, so the best course of action is for Pedroia to continue to take it slow and only come back when his knee feels completely right again.

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

Boston Red Sox, Rafael Devers

Inbox: What trades might Phils make in July?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki breaks down potential midseason additions
MLB.com

Who are some trade targets for the Phillies in July?
-- Al J., Philadelphia

The Phillies need to pick up their play if they want to acquire a top talent or two before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. They are 4-10 since May 26, when they moved into first place in the National League East for a day. Sixteen of their next 19 games are against teams currently with winning records.

Who are some trade targets for the Phillies in July?
-- Al J., Philadelphia

The Phillies need to pick up their play if they want to acquire a top talent or two before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline. They are 4-10 since May 26, when they moved into first place in the National League East for a day. Sixteen of their next 19 games are against teams currently with winning records.

If the Phillies' slide continues, there will be no reason to speculate about Manny Machado or Cole Hamels or anybody else because it would make no sense to give up even a single top prospect for a team that is buried in the standings. But if the Phillies steady themselves and survive June, they have a very favorable schedule in July. From July 3-29, they play 20 of 23 games against teams currently with losing records.

:: Submit a question to the Phillies Inbox ::

But let's start with Machado. Sources told MLB.com on Friday that while the Phillies have genuine interest in Machado, they are highly unlikely to mortgage the future for a two-month rental.

Machado is eligible to be a free agent after the season. He will test those waters. Bet on it.

The suggestion that Machado could fall so much in love with a two-month Phillies experience that he would skip free agency and sign a contract extension before entering the market is far-fetched. Machado waited this long to become a free agent. A few more months are not going to kill him.

For that reason, it makes no sense to trade top prospects like Sixto Sanchez, Adonis Medina, Adam Haseley or whomever else the Orioles might want for two months of Machado, especially when he might only guarantee a one-game playoff in the NL Wild Card Game. But Machado's name will continue to be connected to Philadelphia because the Phillies have the prospects to trade and the money to pay his salary.

The better bet is that the Phils look elsewhere for infield help and pursue Machado hard in the offseason.

Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas is hitting .267 with 13 home runs, 42 RBIs and an .812 OPS. He will be a free agent after the season, but he will not cost nearly as much as Machado. It would allow the Phillies to platoon J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery at shortstop, perhaps getting a little more production out of them.

Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson is a bigger name than Moustakas. He is hitting .234 with five homers, 16 RBIs and a .757 OPS in 36 games. He missed nearly a month because of a right shoulder injury, and he's currently on the disabled list with left calf tightness, but Donaldson hit .320 with a .913 OPS in his last seven games. He also will be a free agent after the season, but he also will not cost as much as Machado.

Hamels remains a popular name and he makes a ton of sense. Blue Jays left-hander J.A. Happ makes sense, too. No front office should make a move based on sentimentality or fan reaction, but bringing back Hamels would electrify the fan base. And with a club option for 2019, the Phillies could have him in next year's rotation, too.

Hamels is 3-6 with a 3.86 ERA in 13 starts, although he has a 5.37 FIP. Happ, who will be a free agent after the season, is 8-3 with a 3.71 ERA in 13 starts. He has a 3.43 FIP.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Josh Donaldson, Cole Hamels, J.A. Happ, Manny Machado, Mike Moustakas

Inbox: Which Tigers are on the trading block?

Beat reporter Jason Beck answers fan questions
MLB.com

If the Tigers stick within a handful of games under .500, I would expect them to still be sellers at next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline, especially if the Indians pull away in the division race by then.

If the Tigers stick within a handful of games under .500, I would expect them to still be sellers at next month's non-waiver Trade Deadline, especially if the Indians pull away in the division race by then.

Detroit signed Francisco Liriano and Mike Fiers in part for their potential trade return if they have rebound seasons, so expect them to be available. Jose Iglesias will be available ahead of free agency this offseason. The demand for bullpen help should make Shane Greene a rumored commodity for contending teams, especially with a couple more years before free agency. The bigger question will be younger guys like Michael Fulmer and Nicholas Castellanos, and the answer probably depends on the return package they might draw.

That would make the Tigers' situation slightly more complicated. For one, Detroit would likely be playing better baseball, closer to .500 or maybe above it in that scenario. Then, the perception issue kicks in. I'd still expect the Tigers to listen to interest on Liriano and Fiers, maybe Leonys Martin as well. But with younger players like Fulmer and Castellanos, Detroit might face a discussion on whether an overachieving season changes the projected timetable on the rebuilding process.

That will not happen. The Tigers aren't in position to give up prospects.

Every indication at this point is that the Tigers intend to hold onto Victor Reyes this season, as they have to do to keep the Rule 5 Draft pick for their organization next year. After starting the season in a 3-for-31 skid, he's 6-for-15 since May 26 with a double, two triples, four RBIs and three stolen bases. Small sample size, but it at least suggests Reyes is making progress.

Jordan Zimmermann is on track to rejoin the Tigers' rotation next weekend in Chicago, which would likely bump Artie Lewicki. Liriano is scheduled to throw a simulated game Tuesday, then likely a rehab start, so there's still some time before Detroit faces that decision. Blaine Hardy has looked much better than expected as a starter, though he struggled last week in Boston, and the Tigers desperately need a left-hander like Hardy in what is currently an all-righty bullpen.

Franklin Perez is still working his way back from the lat strain he suffered in Spring Training, though he's at least throwing now. Jose King is expected to begin his season shortly with Class A Connecticut in the short-season New York-Penn League. Wilkel Hernandez has been pitching in extended spring camp in Florida, and should likely go to Connecticut or the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League this summer.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.

Detroit Tigers, Nicholas Castellanos, Mike Fiers, Michael Fulmer, Shane Greene, Blaine Hardy, Wilkel Hernandez, Jose Iglesias, Jose King, Artie Lewicki, Francisco Liriano, Leonys Martin, Franklin Perez, Victor Reyes, Jordan Zimmermann