Is the hype coming off Eric Pardinho real? He dominated players who were, on average, three years older. Do you think he has a legitimate shot to make it to the big leagues and succeed?
-- Thomas K., Aylmer, Ontario
Gregor Chisholm, Blue Jays reporter: The hype is as real as it can be for anybody his age. Pardinho turned 18 in early January and is only now approaching the age he would be drafted out of high school. Despite all of that, Pardinho already has a season under his belt in which he went 4-3 with a 2.88 ERA at Bluefield of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. The product of Brazil is well positioned to continue advancing through Toronto's system with a stop in Vancouver later this year.
So why does everybody love Pardinho so much? Well let's start with the fact that his fastball touches 96 mph, and that number might rise even higher as he grows into his frame. Pardinho also possesses a curveball, a slider and a changeup, and while he has the tools required to be a power arm, he also mixes speeds well and pitches with finesse. Fellow top prospect Nate Pearson has received more attention over the past year or two, but Pardinho's ceiling might be just as high. More >
Rhett Bollinger, Angels reporter: Angels general manager Billy Eppler said this week that Shohei Ohtani is nearing his appointment with Dr. Neal ElAttrache to get a better feel for when he'll be ready to start the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1. Ohtani isn't expected to be ready for Opening Day, but the hope is that he won't miss much time early in the season.
Ohtani is already back in Southern California, as he participated in Angels Night at the Anaheim Ducks NHL game at the Honda Center on Wednesday night. So an update on Ohtani should be coming in the next week or so, and the Angels will get more concrete answers on when Ohtani will be ready to return and how much he'll be able to serve as designated hitter in the early going. More >
Q: Why haven't the Astros made an offer for Nicholas Castellanos? He is young, he hits and he can play a lot of positions. Although not the best at any he still does the job well enough. At DH he would be key and could re-sign just to be on a winning club since Tigers haven't been very good at all in the years he has been in the big leagues.
-- Nathan G., San Leon, Texas.
Brian McTaggart, Astros reporter: Well, we don't know they haven't made an offer to Castellanos. The fact is most offers to players go unreported. At first blush, he would be a nice fit at DH for the Astros. I don't argue that. Their infield and outfield are pretty full, though, so perhaps he's looking for a starting job in which he can play the field full time? Time will tell. More >
How is Jharel Cotton's rehab going?
-- Chas D., Sacramento, Calif.
Jane Lee, Athletics reporter: Cotton has been progressing in his rehab from Tommy John surgery on schedule and is already throwing pitches from flat ground. A.J. Puk is on a similar schedule after having the same procedure, so both could become available to the A's by midseason, barring any setbacks. The A's allowed Cotton to return home at season's end and continue his rehab in Michigan. He's since returned to Arizona to throw under the watch of the team's training staff. More >
Mandy Bell, Indians reporter: Like I've said in a previous Inbox, I wouldn't rule out Cleveland re-signing Melky Cabrera. The Indians need another quality outfielder and, in a year when the team has experienced plenty of turnover, it may not be the worst thing to bring back a familiar face. He hit .280 in 78 games for the Tribe last season with a 102 wRC+, which is slightly above league average. It wouldn't be surprising if the Indians continue to wait until Spring Training to make a splash in the free-agent market if they choose to do so.
Like you said, Carlos Gonzalez or Adam Jones are other free agents Cleveland could look into. Gonzalez, 33, had a 1.7 Wins Above Replacement in 2018 and hit .276 with 16 homers and 64 RBIs in 132 games. Jones, 33, had similar numbers with a .281 average, 15 home runs and 63 RBIs. Both outfielders could be a solid addition to the Tribe's lineup and add a veteran presence to the young roster. It may not be for a few more weeks, especially with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado still on the market, before more free-agent signings occur.
Now to your question regarding Jake Bauers. He will definitely spend some time in the outfield during Spring Training. The Indians will weigh all of their options during camp and when Carlos Santana is at first base, Bauers could easily see some time in the corner-outfield spots. Depending on whether the Indians make more moves prior to Opening Day, Bauers could split his time between first base and the outfield. My guess is he will make at least a few appearances in the grass this season. More >
What do you think the chances are of Ichiro Suzuki making the Major League roster for the season?
-- Katie W., Spokane, Wash.
Greg Johns, Mariners reporter: If Ichiro stays healthy this spring, he's pretty much a lock to make the expanded 28-man roster for the Opening Series in Japan. But once the club cuts down to 25 players for the rest of the season, it's hard to picture a 45-year-old Ichiro earning playing time on a team that has so clearly stated its goal of using 2019 as a springboard to the future, so I'm going to say those odds would be slim. Of course, you never know how injuries might affect things, which is how Ichiro returned to Seattle last spring. More >
Video: Dipoto discusses Ichiro's roster spot in 2019
What role do you think Mychal Givens will hold this year? Did he close well enough to keep the job?
-- Joel W, from Cole Harbour, N.S., Canada
Joe Trezza, Orioles reporter: As it stands, Givens is the most experienced and accomplished member of a relief corps that features few defined roles. He ended 2018 as the closer and ostensibly enters '19 as such, albeit with just nine career saves under his belt. There aren't many pitchers on this roster you can point to with guaranteed roster spots, but Givens is one. In theory, he's the closer.
But how many games will Givens actually close? That remains to be seen, as does whether new manager Brandon Hyde decides to designate the ninth inning anyone's job at all. It's very possible the O's new forward-thinking regime could choose to keep its relief assignments fluid, instead preferring to deploy their best relievers in the most high-leverage situation, regardless of inning. Givens is clearly that guy, particularly against right-handed hitters. But as far as how many saves he actually earns, let's wait and see. More >
Video: Givens discusses Orioles' new coaches, 2019 season
I just read the Giants are looking to unload Evan Longoria. Any chance he could solve our third base dilemma? I'm sure the Giants would throw in some money or maybe swap Shin-Soo Choo in a deal.
-- Pat S., Roselle Park, N.J.
T.R. Sullivan, Rangers reporter: Longoria is signed for four more years at $68.2 million and has run hot and cold offensively for the past five years. Choo is signed for two more years at $42 million and is a productive American League player who doesn't seem to be a fit for the Giants. There are circumstances in which a club might be willing to take a chance on getting four more years out of Longoria, but right now that doesn't seem to be the appropriate move for the Rangers. More >
What does Matt Duffy's future with the Rays look like? Is there one?
-- @Jack3Mit via Twitter
Juan Toribio, Rays reporter: Duffy, 28, projects to be the starting third baseman for the Rays. One challenge manager Kevin Cash will have this season will be to find a way to give consistent at-bats to all the quality infielders Tampa Bay has on the roster. Daniel Robertson, Yandy Diaz and Joey Wendle will play all over the infield, including third base, and matchups will determine a lot of what the Rays do with their lineup on a daily basis. The team is confident with the roster it has heading into this season, but the organization has preached the importance of having depth on the roster.
Despite not hitting for much power, Duffy was a pleasant surprise for the Rays last season after he missed the entire 2017 season with a left foot injury. Duffy finished with a .294/.361/.366 slash line in '18, and his priority for this upcoming season was to add 10-15 pounds during the offseason. How each infielder performs will ultimately dictate playing time, but as of now, the Rays are planning on entering Spring Training with Duffy as a key part of their infield. More >
What do you think of moving Nathan Eovaldi to closer? It could keep his innings down after the two [Tommy John] surgeries, and he showed an electric arm during the playoffs and ability to get big outs.
-- Eric M., Brewster, Mass.
Ian Browne, Red Sox reporter: I've received a surprising amount of inquiries about this topic this winter, so I feel I need to address it. It's not going to happen. The Red Sox firmly believe in Eovaldi as one of their five starters, and I think they have a quiet confidence that he could be in line for his best season. Using Eovaldi for one-inning stints would be a waste of his repertoire and talent. As for his health, offseason examinations showed that Eovaldi's arm is in tremendous shape. More >
Jeff Flanagan, Royals reporter: Last year at this time, the Royals were fairly adamant they were moving on from free agent Mike Moustakas. Then when the market collapsed, they got Moustakas on a bargain and were able to flip him at the non-waiver Trade Deadline for Brett Phillips and Jorge Lopez -- a sweet deal for the Royals. I don't see that scenario happening again, mainly because I don't think Moose and his agent, Scott Boras, want another short-term deal just to have him flipped again. And this time, the Royals really need to find out what they have with Hunter Dozier at third base. Then again, as general manager Dayton Moore always points out, baseball is unpredictable. More >
Jason Beck, Tigers reporter: General manager Al Avila notably said at the Winter Meetings that there's pretty much no player would be totally off-limits in trade talks if the offer is right. Considering the Tigers were willing to listen on Michael Fulmer previously, they'll probably listen again if he regains his old form, though I'd expect the price tag to remain high. Teams will need some sort of confidence that he can stay healthy, though, and I don't know if a half-season will be enough for some evaluators to answer that.
Daniel Norris' situation is different, because the Tigers haven't seen his best pitching for an extended stretch yet. He's still relatively young at 25, he hasn't held a rotation spot for a full season, and none of his injuries have involved his arm. If 2019 ends up being a breakout year for Norris, the Tigers conceivably try to deal him ahead of their wave of pitching prospects, or they could see if he can build off success like Matthew Boyd did last year. But like Fulmer, scouts have to believe Norris can stay healthy. More >
Do-Hyoung Park, Twins reporter: It's still too early to make any presumptions about the roster, as we're still three weeks out from the start of Spring Training and more than two months away from Opening Day. A lot can change -- signings, injuries -- between now and then. Because of that, Twins leadership has been targeting TwinsFest as around the time when they're planning to start having deeper conversations about roster and positional considerations. (New manager Rocco Baldelli hasn't even met the whole roster yet.)
With that said, I'd think that at the moment, Ronald Torreyes (and Willians Astudillo) aren't locks for the Opening Day 25-man roster -- though, again, it's too early to tell, and things are fluid during the regular season, too. Since the Twins need to dedicate a roster spot to Nelson Cruz, that leaves either three or four bench roles (depending on how many pitchers the team will carry). Three of those will likely go to Jake Cave, Mitch Garver and Ehire Adrianza. How the first-base depth chart plays out should have some effect on a possible fourth bench spot.
Yes, baseball should be fun(ny) in an ideal world, but the primary goal of a Major League team is to win games. If Astudillo makes the roster, it will be because he earns it on the field. Keep in mind: Adrianza (and Tyler Austin) are out of Minor League options. Torreyes and Astudillo aren't.
As for your question about Martin Perez and Adalberto Mejia, pitching depth is of the utmost importance in a season in which the Twins hope to contend. Mejia has upside, but injuries happen over the course of a season, and adding an experienced starter in Perez who is familiar to general manager Thad Levine certainly can't hurt the Twins. And it's not a particularly high-risk move. Don't worry -- Mejia and other young pitchers will get their chances throughout the season. Injuries and other unforeseen circumstances happen, and it's best to be prepared. More >
Odds that Manny Machado has signed and they're waiting for a big reveal at SoxFest?
-- Matt, @MattACanon
Scott Merkin, White Sox reporter: If a deal was already done, I'm guessing the news would have made its way public by now. But how about this purely hypothetical SoxFest scenario: Ozzie Guillen makes his triumphant return, wearing jersey No. 13 -- which has not been given out by the White Sox since he departed as manager after the 2011 season. He presents the jersey to Machado, with a surprise opening ceremony announcement of his contractual agreement Friday evening, only to have Machado switch to a different jersey number as the White Sox announce the retirement of 13 in Guillen's honor.
Fans at a sold-out SoxFest wouldn't know what to do with themselves at that point. The euphoria would be at a championship level, but if any sort of SoxFest surprise is coming, on any level, it would seem to be news to manager Rick Renteria.
"It would be fun," said Renteria, when asked about a special SoxFest announcement at an event in Chicago on Wednesday. "But not that I'm aware of." More >
Video: Merkin discusses the latest Machado-White Sox rumors
Giancarlo Stanton was playing injured last year. What is his health status as of today, and do we expect to see him playing more outfield than last year?
-- Manuel H., Mexicali
Bryan Hoch, Yankees reporter: As a refresher, though Stanton was managing a tight left hamstring for an extended period, he said that he felt a responsibility to be on the field while players like Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and Gary Sanchez were sidelined. Stanton, 29, made 85 consecutive starts from May 28 through Sept. 1, many of them on 1 1/2 legs, which deserves applause. That seems to have been overlooked in some circles.
All indications are that the hamstring issue has been resolved, though when general manager Brian Cashman went around the diamond to outline his vision of the 2019 Yankees a few weeks back, he listed Stanton as the designated hitter. Stanton played 72 games in the outfield and 86 at DH last year; since there is no shortage of capable defenders on the roster, a similar breakdown seems to be in play for '19.
"There's no question he's going to come in this year knowing his teammates, knowing where he lives, knowing the city, knowing the organization, knowing the resources available to him on a daily basis," manager Aaron Boone said recently. "Hopefully it allows him to go out and have an even bigger year than he had [in 2018]. I think that is my expectation for him." More >