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Inbox: Are Phils shopping Franco, Herrera?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions
MLB.com

Are the Phillies shopping Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera? Does the possibility of them being traded increase if we sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper?
-- Don B., Bradley Beach, N.J.

If the Phillies sign Machado, they will try to trade Franco, because there simply would be nowhere for him to play. Franco can play first base, but Rhys Hoskins will play there almost every day. Franco is not a shortstop, second baseman or outfielder. It just makes sense to move him.

Are the Phillies shopping Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrera? Does the possibility of them being traded increase if we sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper?
-- Don B., Bradley Beach, N.J.

If the Phillies sign Machado, they will try to trade Franco, because there simply would be nowhere for him to play. Franco can play first base, but Rhys Hoskins will play there almost every day. Franco is not a shortstop, second baseman or outfielder. It just makes sense to move him.

If the Phils sign Harper, I think Nick Williams or Herrera could be traded. Williams might be the first choice because he is a corner outfielder, and in this scenario, Harper and Andrew McCutchen will have the majority of playing time at the corners. Herrera provides Philadelphia with depth in center field, so there are reasons to keep him. Plus, the Phillies seem to believe Herrera will bounce back after struggling much of last season.

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Would the Phillies be better off getting A.J. Pollock for the outfield and Mike Moustakas for third base, giving them more flexibility and depth? That might leave enough money for Dallas Keuchel and make them a better all-around team.
-- Jay S., York, Pa.

Instead of letting superstars dictate mega-contracts, why not sign more players for the same money and impact your roster in a greater aggregate? You can also sign each for shorter contracts. Signing Machado or Harper is great, but they are only one batter and one fielder. Going after Pollock, J.T. Realmuto, Keuchel, Craig Kimbrel and Moustakas would benefit the team more.
-- Bob B., Pottstown, Pa.

So there are folks out there that are not keen on Machado or Harper. I get it. It's a risk. But we are talking about two Hall of Fame-caliber talents that are just 26. Players like this are not available very often. In fact, they are almost never available in free agency. If the Phils can land a talent like this, I think it is the right play.

Hot Stove Action

When will the Phillies host an All-Star Game?
-- Gloria R., Turnersville, N.J.

I bet it happens in 2026, the 250th birthday of this fine nation.

What is the fuss about having a mixture of left-handed and right-handed pitchers? I realize that it's hypothetical, but suppose I could field a rotation that looked like this: 1. Curt Schilling; 2. Greg Maddux; 3. David Cone; 4. Justin Verlander; and 5. Roger Clemens; with Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and Mariano Rivera in the bullpen. All right-handers. I'm just trying to make a point. The same goes for a starting lineup consisting of all left-handed or right-handed batters.
-- George S., Gloucester City, N.J.

Sure, but this is like saying, "Why is everybody so obsessed about centers in the NBA? I bet I could put Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird on the same team and win a title." Of course you could. But there are no perfect teams. In the real world, you want balance in a rotation, bullpen or lineup, if possible. It's not a requirement, but it's preferred. The Phillies have not had a left-handed starter in the rotation since 2016 because they have not had one they consider an upgrade over their right-handers. If they find one, they will. Otherwise they will stick with what they have.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Maikel Franco, Odubel Herrera

Phils focused on Harper after meeting in Vegas

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies spent Saturday with Bryce Harper, his wife Kayla, his agent Scott Boras and a few others in Las Vegas.

They came away impressed.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies spent Saturday with Bryce Harper, his wife Kayla, his agent Scott Boras and a few others in Las Vegas.

They came away impressed.

Two sources told MLB.com on Sunday that the Phillies' presentation and meeting went well. So well, in fact, that the Phillies might be shifting their focus from Manny Machado to Harper, although it is unknown if the club made a formal contract offer to Harper before leaving town. The Phillies' contingent consisted of managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, manager Gabe Kapler and assistant general manager Ned Rice. The same group, plus others, made a similar pitch to Machado late last month at Citizens Bank Park.

Latest Harper rumors

Machado has a formal offer on the table.

"I think it was really positive," Middleton told 6ABC outside the Philadelphia airport late Saturday night.

"Yeah, I do, too," Klentak said.

Machado has been the Phillies' No. 1 choice since the beginning of the offseason because of his combination of offense and elite defense at third base, while Harper has been the people's choice because of his offensive prowess and immense star power. Of course, Saturday's developments do not mean the Phillies will not sign Machado. They still might. Negotiations, good or bad, can change quickly with one text or phone call. But one source said the Phillies left Vegas remarkably impressed with Harper and his wife.

The Phillies have been optimistic for the past couple weeks that they will sign one of the two superstars. They not only have the most money to pay Harper or Machado, but they also have few competitors for them. USA Today reported that Nationals executives are characterizing their chances to retain Harper as "a long shot." Teams like the White Sox and Dodgers have been linked to Harper, but they might not have the money to throw at Harper, like the Phillies. The White Sox and Yankees have been linked to Machado, but they again might not have the money the Phillies can offer.

A third source said recently that the Phillies know they must make a significant upgrade to their roster to keep up with the Nationals, Braves and Mets in the National League East. Each team either played better than the Phillies last season, made notable improvement this offseason or both.

Harper would help.

"We got to understand the man," Middleton told 6ABC about Harper. "We got to understand what he'd be like in the dugout, the clubhouse and the community. He and his wife are really an impressive young couple."

"It was really impressive to spend some time with him, get to know him better, answer his questions, and we got to ask some questions, learn about him, and I think that's a really important step in any negotiation is kind of understanding what the other party is looking for. And now we'll see where it takes us," Klentak said.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper

30 best defensive prospects -- 1 for each team

MLB.com

MLB Pipeline recently unveiled its annual All-Defense Team, but there were only so many spots to fill. It made us realize there were so many outstanding defenders across all 30 organizations.

Evaluating defense is still very much subjective, with metrics measuring fielding still imperfect. Still, each system has glovework that stands out more than others, and we considered many to present one best defender from each organization.

MLB Pipeline recently unveiled its annual All-Defense Team, but there were only so many spots to fill. It made us realize there were so many outstanding defenders across all 30 organizations.

Evaluating defense is still very much subjective, with metrics measuring fielding still imperfect. Still, each system has glovework that stands out more than others, and we considered many to present one best defender from each organization.

American League East

Orioles: Cadyn Grenier, SS, No. 9
Grenier's stellar glovework at shortstop was key in helping Oregon State win the 2018 College World Series, and in the process, he established himself as one of the best defensive prospects in the Draft before going to the Orioles as the No. 37 overall pick. With good hands, plus arm strength and plenty of range, Grenier has all the ingredients needed to stick at the position long term.

Red Sox: Bobby Dalbec, 3B, No. 6
Dalbec has always possessed a strong arm and has worked hard to improve his agility and range at third base, with several Red Sox officials rating him as a plus defender and scouts outside the organization grading him more as solid. He also owns prodigious raw power and ranked second in the Minors in extra-base hits (70) and RBIs (109) last year, and fourth in homers (32).

Yankees: Estevan Florial, OF, No. 1 (MLB No. 45)
Florial has some of the best all-around tools in the Minors, with well-above-average raw power, speed and arm strength. He continues to improve as a center fielder, projecting as a plus defender, and has an exceptionally strong arm for the position.

Rays: Lucius Fox, SS, No. 9
While there's no shortage of standout defenders in the highly athletic Rays system, Fox, a top-flight athlete with plus-plus speed, could be the best. He's played shortstop exclusively as a pro and committed 15 errors in 105 games last season while reaching Double-A at age 21. His athleticism makes him an electrifying defender, and he has the requisite physical tools to remain at the position for the long haul.

Video: EAST@WEST: Fox showcases range, slick glove in 3rd

Blue Jays: Kevin Vicuna, SS, unranked
The Blue Jays felt so good about Vicuna's defense in 2017 that they had the then-19-year-old handle shortstop duties for Class A Advanced Dunedin from April 23-June 1, even though Vicuna previously had never played above the Rookie Gulf Coast League. He's an athletic and, at times, flashy defender, with quick, twitchy hands that help him absorb anything hit his way and a quick release that causes his average arm strength to play up across the infield.

AL Central

White Sox: Nick Madrigal, 2B, No. 5 (MLB No. 49)
The White Sox may try Madrigal at shortstop, because he has the hands and actions to thrive there, but his average arm makes him a better fit at second base. With his quickness and instincts, he could be a Gold Glove Award winner at the keystone, and he also rated as the best pure hitter in the 2018 Draft, where he went No. 4 overall.

Video: Top Prospects: Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox

Indians: Eric Haase, C, No. 27
Haase reached the Majors for the first time late last season, seven years after the Indians took him in the seventh round of the 2011 Draft. Though he's blossomed on both sides of the ball during the past two seasons, it's been Haase's defensive gains that have helped him climb the Tribe's depth chart. After throwing out 37 percent of attempted basestealers in 2017, Haase improved that mark to nearly 49 percent in '18 (33 of 68).

Tigers: Jake Rogers, C, No. 12
The Tigers got Rogers as part of the Justin Verlander deal, and in Rogers' first full season with the organization, he cemented himself as the game's best defensive catching prospect, earning a spot on MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team for the second year in a row. He threw out 55.6 percent of potential basestealers in 2018, upping his career rate to 48.5 percent.

Royals: Sebastian Rivero, C, unranked
M.J. Melendez is very athletic for a catcher and has a chance to become a plus defender with an arm to match. Yet South Atlantic League managers rated Rivero, his teammate at Lexington last summer, the low Class A circuit's best defensive backstop in a Baseball America survey last year. The Royals liken Rivero to a young Salvador Perez, and in addition to his physical ability, Rivero also draws raves for his leadership skills, intelligence and work ethic.

Twins: Gilberto Celestino, OF, No. 14
Signed by the Astros for $2.5 million in 2015, Celestino made his United States debut in '17, then got dealt to the Twins in the Ryan Pressly trade last season. He's drawn comparisons to Albert Almora Jr. for his instincts in center, and coaches in Elizabethton feel he's one of the best defenders they've ever seen.

AL West

Astros: Myles Straw, OF, No. 15
Straw has double-plus speed that gives him tremendous range in center field, where his plus arm also stands out at a position not noted for strong throwers. That quickness also plays well on the bases (he topped the Minors with 70 steals in only 79 attempts in 2018) and allows him to beat out hits (he led the Minors with a .358 batting average in '16).

Angels: Jordyn Adams, OF, No. 6
The Angels signed Adams away from playing football and baseball at North Carolina, and he immediately put his tools on display during his pro debut and during instructs. He's still raw, but the Angels feel he has elite range and the highest ceiling as a defender in the organization.

A's: Nick Allen, SS, No. 15
Allen was viewed by many scouts as perhaps the best defensive prospect available in the 2017 Draft, and he's done nothing to diminish that reputation after signing for more than double slot value as the A's third-round pick. There is no doubt among scouts that Allen can stick at shortstop. He's already a plus defender there, with outstanding range that leads to many highlight-reel plays and plus arm strength that allows him to make throws from all over the diamond.

Mariners: Evan White, 1B, No. 5
It's not often a first baseman is mentioned as one of the premier defensive players in the Minors, but that's the reality with White, who recently was named to the All-Defense Team. All signs point to him becoming a Gold Glove Award winner at the position, as he's athletic with outstanding footwork, a strong arm and plus range. His ability to pick throws is elite, and he makes every infielder on his team better as a result.

Video: Top Prospects: Evan White, 1B, Mariners

Rangers: Jose Trevino, C, No. 28
Trevino won Rawlings Minor League Gold Gloves in both 2016 and '17, before surgery on his non-throwing shoulder last July squashed any chances of a three-peat. He's an outstanding receiver and blocker, gets the most out of his strong arm with a quick release and accurate throws and also earns high marks for his ability to run a pitching staff.

National League East

Braves: Cristian Pache, OF, No. 6  (MLB No. 68)
Pache is generally considered to be the best defender in the Minor Leagues, leading our All-Defense Prospect Team. He has the speed and instincts to be a Gold Glove center fielder to go along with a right fielder's arm.

Video: Mayo looks at MLB Pipeline's 2019 All-Defense Team

Marlins: Jose Devers, SS/2B, No. 13
The cousin of Red Sox third basemen Rafael Devers, Jose was acquired by the Marlins last offseason in the blockbuster trade that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Bronx. While he doesn't have his cousin's offensive profile, Devers is a far superior defender, with the soft hands, slick footwork and strong arm needed to be a big league shortstop. He showcased his defensive prowess last season, committing only seven errors and posting a .971 fielding percentage as an 18-year-old in full-season ball.

Mets: Andres Gimenez, SS, No. 1 (MLB No. 55)
The shortstop on our All-Defense Team, Gimenez reached Double-A in 2018 as a teenager. While he needs to add strength offensively, he has everything he needs to play shortstop defensively in the big leagues. He has plus hands, range and the internal clock to allow him to slow the game down.

Phillies: Luis Garcia, SS, No. 14
Signed for $2.5 million in July 2017, Garcia had a tremendous debut in the Gulf Coast League in '18 on both sides of the ball. He has a strong arm to go along with terrific hands and feet, and speed that gives him excellent range to stay at shortstop long term. He's only going to get better as he matures.

Nationals: Victor Robles, OF, No. 1 (MLB No. 4)
Revered as one of the top defenders in the Minor Leagues and a member of MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team, Robles has game-changing abilities in center field. His near top-of-the-scale speed gives him range for days in center field, and he's made strides in improving both his reads and routes in the past two years. His plus-plus arm is among the strongest in the Minors, and he totaled 29 outfield assists from 2016-17 before an injury-plagued campaign in '18.

Video: Top Prospects: Victor Robles, OF, Nationals

NL Central

Cubs: Miguel Amaya, C, No. 1 (MLB No. 87)
Amaya's defensive ability and makeup led the Cubs to sign him for $1.25 million out of Panama in 2015, and he continues to impress even though he has been pushed aggressively in the Minors. His aptitude to frame and block pitches is advanced for a teenager, and his arm strength has improved to at least solid and plays up because of his quick transfer and accuracy.

Reds: Mike Siani, OF, No. 9
The Reds' fourth-round pick got first-round money to sign because of his all-around tools. But his defensive skills have long stood out, and he might have been the best defensive outfielder in the 2018 Draft class, with the ability to cover a ton of ground in center and an arm that allowed him to throw low-90s fastballs from the mound in high school.

Brewers: Payton Henry, C, No. 11
A sixth-round pick in 2016 who signed for nearly twice his slot value, Henry threw out nearly 44 percent (46 of 105) of attempted basestealers and had only six passed balls in his first full season. A quick release and a strong, accurate arm help Henry to combat the running game, and evaluators have been impressed with how he's developed a receiving style that utilizes his big, athletic frame. Henry is also praised for his energy and leadership skills.

Pirates: Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, No. 2 (MLB No. 48)
Hayes was the third baseman on our All-Defense Team, and for good reason. He entered pro ball as one of the better defenders at the hot corner, but he's gotten even better as he's committed himself to his conditioning, adding to his agility and range to make him the best in the Minors at the position.

Cardinals: Delvin Perez, SS, No. 28
The Cardinals' first-round pick in 2016 has had trouble finding any traction offensively, but there are no concerns about his defensive chops. He gets plus grades on his arm and his overall fielding, thanks to a plus arm when he needs it, above-average hands and plus speed that helps him cover a lot of ground.

NL West

D-backs: Geraldo Perdomo, SS, No. 21
Perdomo's United States debut in 2018 was solid all-around, and he even earned a promotion from the Arizona Rookie League to the Pioneer League in the process. Tall and rangy, the teenager has shown the tools to stay at shortstop long term with outstanding range, actions and hands to go with a strong arm.

Rockies: Yonathan Daza, OF, No. 18
Thanks to his plus speed and fine instincts, Daza covers a lot of ground in center field, and he possesses a plus-plus arm that stands out at his position. He's also a career .310 hitter who won the Class A Advanced California League batting title in 2017 with a .341 mark.

Dodgers: Will Smith, C, No. 5
An outstanding athlete for a catcher, Smith has already shown that he's capable of playing third base and filling in at second. He has very soft hands and impressive agility, making him a fine receiver and framer, and he has a solid arm that plays better than that because of his fast footwork.

Padres: Buddy Reed, OF, No. 13
A member of MLB Pipeline's All-Defense Team, Reed's 70-grade speed and long, gliding strides allow him to cover huge swaths of territory in center field -- and he showcased that with his catch in last year's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Reed also has a strong arm and recorded 12 outfield assists in 2018, surpassing his combined total from his first two seasons.

Video: WLD@USA: Reed wired up, makes great grab at the wall

Giants: Joey Bart, C, No. 1 (MLB No. 23)
The No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, Bart draws more attention with his bat, but his work behind the plate is impressive as well. He has improved markedly since high school, when scouts wondered if he could stay at catcher, enhancing his agility and receiving and improving the accuracy of his strong arm.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter @JonathanMayo and Facebook, and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

Mike Rosenbaum is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @GoldenSombrero.

First Spring Training workout dates for all clubs

MLB.com

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

Major League Baseball has revealed the first Spring Training workout dates for pitchers and catchers and those for the full squads for all 30 clubs. MLB also announced game times for all Cactus and Grapefruit League action in February and March.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

The A's, fresh off their surprise run to the 2018 American League Wild Card Game, will be the first club to have its pitchers and catchers report. They'll do so on Monday, Feb. 11, followed by the Indians and Mariners on Feb. 12 and the remainder of MLB clubs in the days following. Oakland and Seattle will travel to Tokyo to stage two exhibition games each against Japanese teams on March 17-18, followed by the first two games of the 2019 regular season on March 20-21 at Tokyo Dome.

Complete Spring Training schedule

Oakland and Seattle will hold their first full-squad workouts on Saturday, Feb. 16, in Arizona, with the rest of MLB following suit in the days after. The Braves will be the last club to hold its first full-squad workout, doing so on Thursday, Feb. 21. The A's and Mariners open Cactus League action with a matchup on Feb. 21, and the Rays and Phillies open up Grapefruit League action the following day. The Red Sox and Tigers will play exhibition games against college teams on Feb. 22.

Here are first-workout dates for pitchers and catchers and full squads for each team:

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Angels: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Astros: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Athletics: Feb. 11/Feb. 16
Blue Jays: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Indians: Feb. 12/Feb. 18
Mariners: Feb. 12/Feb. 16
Orioles: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rangers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rays: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Red Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Royals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Tigers: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Twins: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
White Sox: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Yankees: Feb. 14/Feb. 19

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Braves: Feb. 16/Feb. 21
Brewers: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Cardinals: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Cubs: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Diamondbacks: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Dodgers: Feb. 13/Feb. 19
Giants: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Marlins: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Mets: Feb. 14/Feb. 18
Nationals: Feb. 14/Feb. 19
Padres: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Phillies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Pirates: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Reds: Feb. 13/Feb. 18
Rockies: Feb. 13/Feb. 18

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

The MLB.com Hall of Fame ballot results are ...

MLB.com

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Six MLB.com writers were among those eligible to cast ballots in the 2019 Hall of Fame vote conducted by the Baseball Writers' Association of America.

• Complete Hall of Fame coverage

As many as four candidates -- and possibly more -- could be elected, according to the public ballots amassed online. Here's a look at how the six voted, and at the bottom you can see what the totals look like among this group:

T.R. Sullivan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Billy Wagner
9. Larry Walker
10. Michael Young

There are many offensive players who could/should be elected based on their career numbers. I strongly believe McGriff is unfairly overlooked because he was one of the last great hitters before the offensive explosion of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Mussina also thrived as a starting pitcher in the American League right in the thick of that era. It should not have taken him this long to be elected. I'm not big on comparables, but Wagner was every bit as good of a reliever as Rivera or Trevor Hoffman.

Video: MLB Tonight on Mike Mussina's Hall of Fame case

Mark Feinsand
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Manny Ramirez
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Gary Sheffield
10. Omar Vizquel

Three of the players I voted for a year ago -- Vladimir Guerrero, Chipper Jones and Jim Thome -- were inducted into the Hall, so the holdovers (Bonds, Clemens, Edgar, Mussina, Manny, Schilling and Sheffield) took up the first seven spots on my ballot.

That left me with up to three open spots to fill. Rivera was an obvious choice for one of them in his first time on the ballot, as was Halladay, who, despite a modest win total (203), was one of the most dominant pitchers of his generation. Although I delved into their statistics to confirm what I already knew, these two were no-brainers.

Video: Roy Halladay's case for the Hall of Fame

The final spot was a little more difficult. After a first examination of the 26 players, I narrowed down my choice to Todd Helton, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Andy Pettitte, Scott Rolen, Vizquel, Larry Walker and Vernon Wells. (OK, Wells wasn't really on my list, but he was one of my favorite players I ever covered, so I considered using my last spot for him for about 30 seconds.)

Although I probably would have voted for five or six of these players had the ballot been open-ended and without the 10-man limit, my choice ultimately came down to two: Pettitte and Vizquel.

Pettitte is viewed by many as a borderline candidate, a take I can't argue with. While his candidacy might be seen differently by voters, I think he belongs in the conversation. (Based on my voting history, I'm obviously not holding his HGH admission against him.) Having seen similar players such as Jorge Posada, Kenny Lofton and Johan Santana fall off the ballot in their first years, I considered voting for Pettitte in an effort to help him get the requisite 5 percent for him to be on the ballot again next year.

Ultimately, Vizquel's excellence in the field (he took home 11 Gold Gloves and is in the conversation as the best defensive shortstop ever) won out. He might not have been an offensive force, but Vizquel was far from an automatic out, finishing his career with 2,877 hits. Pettitte had a great career and will likely be in the mix for my vote again next year, but my belief that Vizquel should be in the Hall outweighed my hopes of seeing Pettitte remain on the ballot.

Jeffrey Flanagan
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Andruw Jones
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Manny Ramirez
8. Mariano Rivera
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

It was difficult leaving off McGriff and Rolen, but we only get 10 spots, which is why I've always favored a binary system -- simply yes or no to each candidate. As for the PED issue, my stance hasn't really changed: If what they did (or didn't) do is so egregious, the Hall of Fame should take those players off the ballot. Don't make us be the morality judges.

Video: MLB Network debates Bonds, Clemens' merits for HOF

Richard Justice
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Mike Mussina
6. Mariano Rivera
7. Scott Rolen
8. Curt Schilling
9. Billy Wagner
10. Larry Walker

Easy calls on nine of the 10. All belong in the Hall. As for Wagner, he's one of greatest closers ever, and if they're part of the game (same for DHs), the best of them should be in the Hall. I didn't like leaving off Andruw Jones, Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez and Gary Sheffield, who at least deserve to be in the conversation longer.

Jon Paul Morosi
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Edgar Martinez
5. Fred McGriff
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Scott Rolen
9. Curt Schilling
10. Larry Walker

I voted for Bonds and Clemens, as I have every year. For now, at least, my policy regarding players tied to PED use remains unchanged: I do not vote for players suspended under MLB's drug policy from 2005 to present, but I support the best all-around players from the complicated era that preceded it.

Rivera is one of the clearest first-ballot Hall of Famers in history, and Halladay's dominant peak (in a hitter-friendly ballpark, against AL East competition) makes him worthy of the Hall. McGriff, overlooked for far too long, hit more home runs -- with a better adjusted OPS -- than first-ballot Hall of Famers Dave Winfield and Carl Yastrzemski; McGriff is eminently qualified for Cooperstown.

My toughest decision came among Rolen, Vizquel and Sheffield for the last of my 10 spots. I opted for Rolen, given the overall quality of his career, at a position underrepresented in the Hall. Rolen is one of only three third basemen in history with at least seven Gold Gloves and seven All-Star appearances. The others are Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt.

Video: MLB Network on Edgar Martinez's case for the HOF

Chris Haft
1. Barry Bonds
2. Roger Clemens
3. Roy Halladay
4. Jeff Kent
5. Edgar Martinez
6. Mike Mussina
7. Mariano Rivera
8. Curt Schilling
9. Omar Vizquel
10. Larry Walker

Rivera's career forestalls debate. And if you feel free to vote for closers, you should feel free to vote for other specialists, such as Martinez the designated hitter. I dismounted my moral high horse regarding Bonds and Clemens two or three years ago. I needed some persuasion to vote for Walker; by contrast, I remained stubbornly loyal to Kent. Mussina embodied consistency; Schilling dominated the postseason and Halladay finished 98 games above .500 in just 390 starts. As for Vizquel, I pity those who can't or won't comprehend his excellence.

Vote totals of the 6 MLB.com writers

With 75 percent of the vote needed for entry to the Hall, Bonds, Martinez, Rivera, Mussina, Clemens, Halladay, Schilling and Walker received enough support -- the first six appearing on all six ballots, and the other two appearing on five of six ballots (83 percent) -- from MLB.com writers.

Barry Bonds -- 6 votes
Roger Clemens -- 6
Roy Halladay -- 6
Edgar Martinez -- 6
Mike Mussina -- 6
Mariano Rivera -- 6
Curt Schilling -- 5
Larry Walker -- 5
Fred McGriff -- 2
Manny Ramirez -- 2
Scott Rolen -- 2
Omar Vizquel -- 2
Billy Wagner -- 2
Andruw Jones -- 1
Jeff Kent -- 1
Gary Sheffield -- 1
Michael Young -- 1

Whitley leads list of Top 10 RHP prospects

MLB.com

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

When it comes to right-handed pitching prospects -- well, pitching prospects who throw with either hand -- there's Forrest Whitley and then there's everyone else.

MLB Pipeline will unveil its 2019 Top 100 Prospects list with a one-hour show on MLB Network and MLB.com on Saturday, Jan. 26, at 8 p.m. ET. Leading up to the release, we look at baseball's top 10 prospects at each position.

When it comes to right-handed pitching prospects -- well, pitching prospects who throw with either hand -- there's Forrest Whitley and then there's everyone else.

The Astros' 2016 first-round pick has rated as the best pitching prospect in the Minors since the start of last season and, naturally, headlines MLB Pipeline's rankings of the best righty prospects at the start of 2019. He's one of six repeaters from our list of top 10 right-handers a year ago. Of the others, Shohei Ohtani and Walker Buehler graduated to the big leagues, while Alex Reyes (Cardinals) and Triston McKenzie (Indians) just missed the Top 10.

Video: Top Prospects: Forest Whitley, RHP, Astros

Though prep right-handers are considered the riskiest demographic in the Draft, it's interesting to note that six members of our Top 10 were selected out of high school: Whitley, Michael Kopech (White Sox), Mitch Keller (Pirates), Dylan Cease (White Sox), Mike Soroka (Braves) and Hunter Greene (Reds). A seventh, Sixto Sanchez (Phillies), signed at age 16 out of the Dominican Republic.

Top 10 Prospects by Position

The Top 10 (ETA)
1. Forrest Whitley, Astros (2019)
2. Casey Mize, Tigers (2020)
3. Michael Kopech, White Sox (2020)
4. Mitch Keller, Pirates (2019)
5. Dylan Cease, White Sox (2019)
6. Mike Soroka, Braves (2019)
7. Sixto Sanchez, Phillies (2020)
8. Brent Honeywell, Rays (2019)
9. Kyle Wright, Braves (2019)
10. Hunter Greene, Reds (2021)
Complete list »

Top Tools

Best Fastball: Kopech, Greene (80)
Kopech often climbs above 100 mph with late running action on his fastball, while Greene reached triple digits more easily than any high school pitcher ever and hit 103 during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game last July. Both ended the 2018 season on the shelf with elbow injuries, however, with Kopech requiring Tommy John surgery and Greene getting shut down with a sprain before returning to the mound in mid-December.

Video: Top Prospects: Hunter Greene, RHP, Reds

Best Curveball: Cease (65)
Cease was MLB Pipeline's 2018 Pitcher of the Year after going 12-2 with a 2.40 ERA and ranking fifth in the Minors in opponent average (.189) and eighth in strikeout rate (11.6 per nine innings). He has a hammer curveball with depth and power, and hitters can't try to sit on it because he can blow them away with a fastball that sits in the mid-90s and reaches triple digits.

Video: Top Prospects: Dylan Cease, RHP, White Sox

Best Slider: Kopech (65)
Like his fellow White Sox pitching prospect Cease, Kopech backs up an electric fastball with a nasty breaking pitch. He gets two-plane break on a slider that sits in the mid-80s and approaches 90 mph, a big reason why he has averaged 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings in pro ball.

Video: Top Prospects: Michael Kopech, RHP, White Sox

Best Changeup: Whitley (65)
Whitley can miss bats with four different pitches, including a devastating changeup with fade and depth that plays extremely well off his 93-98 mph fastball. It has helped him dominate left-handers as a pro, limiting them to a .196/.284/.275 line in three pro seasons.

Best Other Pitch: Mize (70)
Mize was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft and signed for $7.5 million, the second-largest bonus in Draft history. One of the attributes that made him so coveted by pro teams was his mid-80s splitter, which dives at the plate and serves as his changeup.

Video: Top Prospects: Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers

Best Control: Mize, Soroka, Sanchez, Honeywell (60)
Soroka has exceedingly advanced control and command for a young pitcher, which helped him reach the big leagues at age 20 last May. Mize also scores well in both categories, leading NCAA Division I with a 12.1 K/BB ratio in 2017 and ranking fifth with a 9.8 mark in 2018.

Video: Top Prospects: Mike Soroka, RHP, Braves

Superlatives

Highest Ceiling: Whitley
Whitley has a 93-98 mph fastball with natural life, a pair of high-spin breaking pitches and a dastardly changeup. He's one of just five high school first-rounders this millennium to advance to Double-A during his first full pro season, joining a select group that also includes Zack Greinke, Chad Billingsley, Clayton Kershaw and Dylan Bundy. He still needs to upgrade his command but looks like a future Cy Young Award winner.

Highest Floor: Mize
Mize had the best combination of stuff and polish in the 2018 Draft and the same is arguably true in the Minors. Besides his unhittable splitter, he also throws a 92-97 mph fastball with running life and a plus mid-80s slider that he can transform into a cutter when he wants.

Rookie of the Year Candidate: Soroka
Only two of these right-handers have had success in Triple-A, and one of them is Honeywell, who missed all of 2018 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. That leaves Soroka, who had his moments with the Braves before getting shut down with shoulder soreness in mid-June. He's healthy again and the most talented of the youngsters who'll compete for the fifth spot in Atlanta's rotation.

Highest Riser: Cease
With the exception of Mize, who was a junior at Auburn, all of the other nine righties on this list entered last season as Top 100 Prospects. Cease ranked lowest among them at No. 61, in part because he had worked just 162 innings in three years after having Tommy John surgery coming out of high school, but he eased concerns about his durability with his spectacular 2018 performance.

Humblest Beginning: Sanchez
Of the nine drafted pitchers on this list, the lowest selection and bonus belong to Honeywell -- and he was a supplemental second-rounder who signed for $800,000. By contrast, the Phillies stumbled upon Sanchez when he was throwing batting practice at a workout for Cuban catcher Lednier Ricardo in 2014 and snapped him up for $35,000.

Video: Top Prospects: Sixto Sanchez, RHP, Phillies

Most To Prove: Honeywell
Honeywell seemed like a lock for the Rays rotation after a strong 2017 season, during which he was MVP of the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game and helped Durham win the Triple-A national championship. Then he blew out his elbow while throwing batting practice early last spring, requiring Tommy John surgery in February that cost him all of 2018.

Video: Top Prospects: Brent Honeywell, RHP, Rays

Keep An Eye On: Luis Patino, Padres
As if baseball's best farm system wasn't already overflowing with talented right-handers, the Padres have another one in Patino, signed for $120,000 out of Colombia in 2014. He has a mid-90s fastball that peaks at 99 mph, a pair of power breaking balls in his slider and curveball and a developing yet promising changeup.

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.

All the things the Phillies probably brought to Las Vegas to entice Bryce Harper

Representatives from the Phillies met with Bryce Harper and his wife, Kayla, in Las Vegas this weekend. Things seemed to go incredibly well and the team says it's shifted its focus to the free agent star.

So, what did they talk about? How many cheesesteaks did Harper eat? Does he like it wit or witout? What does that even mean? Let's review some of things the Phillies may have enticed Harper with should he sign with them.

Position by position: These are the biggest upgrades

MLB.com

With only about a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, plenty of potential contenders still have needs to address, and some high-profile free agents remain available.

Still, as quiet as the offseason has seemed at times, there have been some important additions. With that in mind, here is a position-by-position look at which teams have done the most to upgrade weak spots, taking into account both their 2018 production (or lack thereof) and '19 outlook:

With only about a month left before pitchers and catchers report to Spring Training, plenty of potential contenders still have needs to address, and some high-profile free agents remain available.

Still, as quiet as the offseason has seemed at times, there have been some important additions. With that in mind, here is a position-by-position look at which teams have done the most to upgrade weak spots, taking into account both their 2018 production (or lack thereof) and '19 outlook:

• 10 teams with unfinished Hot Stove business

Catcher: Brewers
The Mets and Nationals certainly deserve mention here as well, after New York landed Wilson Ramos and Washington brought in a combo of Yan Gomes and Kurt Suzuki. But Milwaukee sits on top because Yasmani Grandal -- who agreed to a one-year deal Thursday -- has easily the highest ceiling, as a true two-way contributor, in that group. His unfortunate postseason scuffles aside, Grandal has been an above-average hitter in every season of his career (117 wRC+) and is one of the game's top pitch framers. Given that Brewers catchers (mainly Manny Pina and Erik Kratz) hit .237/.294/.363 last year, Grandal provides far more upside.

Video: Brewers, Grandal make one-year deal official

First base: Rockies
In 2018, Colorado first basemen (primarily Ian Desmond) finished 28th in the Majors in wRC+ (80) and 29th in FanGraphs' wins above replacement (-1.2), even as the team battled its way into the postseason. Signing veteran Daniel Murphy to a two-year contract was a bit of a risk, given that the left-handed batter will be 34 next season and struggled early in '18 as he came back from a knee injury. But Murphy was one of the game's top hitters from 2016-17 and recovered to slash .315/.346/.498 after the All-Star break. He should be a lot more comfortable defensively after moving from second to first.

Second base: Nationals
It's been a productive offseason for Washington, which has addressed several areas of need -- even with the Bryce Harper situation unresolved. One of the those was the keystone. Last year, Murphy's injury, slow start, and defensive shortcomings limited the club's production at second. Howie Kendrick was lost for the season in May, and Wilmer Difo posted a .650 OPS. Now the Nats have made a low-risk rebound bet by reaching a one-year agreement with Brian Dozier. One of MLB's best second basemen from 2013-17, Dozier slumped last year while fighting a knee issue. Steamer projects a solid 2.6 WAR in '19, and a fully healthy Dozier could contribute with the bat and glove while allowing Kendrick and Difo to come off the bench.

Video: Collier on Dozier's reported deal with Nationals

Third base: Braves
This one may change when we learn where Manny Machado winds up. In the meantime, this selection admittedly doesn't quite fit here, because the hot corner actually was a highly productive spot for the 2018 Braves. Behind a strong year from Johan Camargo, the National League East champs got a 116 wRC+ and 4.3 WAR from their third basemen. With that said, free-agent acquisition Josh Donaldson has the much more robust track record and the much more optimistic projections, with the upside of one of the league's elite third basemen. Meanwhile, Camargo now can see time around the diamond.

Shortstop: Phillies
The baseball world waits to see whether Philly lands one of the offseason's big fish -- Harper or Machado. In the meantime, pulling off a trade with the Mariners for shortstop Jean Segura was a meaningful upgrade for a club looking to take the next step. The 2018 Phillies ranked 27th in wRC+ (75) and 28th in WAR (0.8) from shortstop, with youngsters J.P. Crawford and Scott Kingery struggling mightily with the bat before veteran Asdrubal Cabrera arrived at the Trade Deadline. Now Cabrera is a free agent, Crawford is in Seattle and Kingery can move around the field, while Segura stabilizes short with an above-average bat and solid defense.

Outfield: Mariners
It might seem strange to have the Mariners here, in an offseason that has seen them lose Segura and several other key pieces. At the same time, Seattle has complemented rising star Mitch Haniger with Mallex Smith and Domingo Santana, with the former pushing Dee Gordon back to second base and the latter replacing Denard Span and several others. The Mariners, who got little production from center or left last year, also now have Jay Bruce in the mix. But the speedy Smith and talented Santana -- who was blocked in Milwaukee -- look like the biggest prizes and both have at least three years of club control remaining.

Designated hitter: Twins
Minnesota was below replacement level at DH last year, ranking second-to-last in the AL in OPS (.682) and home runs (15). The Twins used 14 players in that role, including three for at least 35 starts: Logan Morrison, Joe Mauer and Robbie Grossman. That trio is gone, with Nelson Cruz now likely to see the vast majority of the at-bats at DH. Cruz, who signed a one-year deal with a club option, leads the Majors with 203 homers over the past five seasons and is tied for fifth with a 145 wRC+. His power could help Minnesota make a run at Cleveland in the AL Central.

Video: Park on what Cruz can add to the Twins' lineup

Starting rotation: Reds
Cincinnati may not be done improving in this area, with a free agent such as Dallas Keuchel or a trade target such as Sonny Gray among the possibilities. But the Reds already have made a pair of moves to solidify a rotation that last year posted the sixth-highest ERA and fourth-highest FIP in the Majors, over the eighth-fewest innings. Of the six Reds who made at least 20 starts last year, none had an ERA below 4.30. However, Homer Bailey (6.09) and Matt Harvey (4.50) are out, and Sal Romano (5.48) likely has been bumped, with Cincinnati trading for Nationals righty Tanner Roark and Dodgers lefty Alex Wood. While both are due to reach free agency after 2019, Roark has been a reliable innings-eater, and Wood owns a career 3.33 ERA as a starter.

Bullpen: Mets
Several clubs have added relief talent, even as Craig Kimbrel, Adam Ottavino and others remain unsigned. But the Mets -- who have been quite busy this offseason -- stand at the top of the heap after landing Edwin Diaz from Seattle. Diaz was arguably the best reliever in the Majors in 2018, with a 1.96 ERA, 57 saves and 124 strikeouts in 73 1/3 innings. The hard-throwing 24-year-old can team up with Jeurys Familia, who re-signed for three years after getting shipped to Oakland ahead of the 2018 Trade Deadline. A full season from both righties would do wonders for a Mets bullpen that ranked 28th in the Majors in ERA, 29th in FIP and 23rd in strikeout rate. New York also inked a Minor League deal with southpaw Luis Avilan, who has held lefties to a .581 OPS in his career.

Andrew Simon is a research analyst for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewSimonMLB.

1 per team: Players who could stay put until 2025

MLB.com

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

The 2013 season doesn't seem that long ago, does it? It seems like it just happened. (The passage of time is a crazy thing.) But in the world of baseball, it was a long, long time ago. How long? Look at the top 10 hitters and the top 10 pitchers in WAR in '13. Of those 10 hitters and 10 pitchers, only two players on each list (Mike Trout and Joey Votto among the hitters, Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright among the pitchers) are still on the same teams they were just six years ago. That is an astounding amount of turnover, and reminds us how difficult it can be to predict the future.

Nevertheless: Let's try. Today at the Thirty, we attempt to pick the one player on each team's current 40-man roster who is most likely to still be on that roster in six years. Sticking to the current roster raises the level of difficulty. Otherwise, I could just pick Vladimir Guerrero Jr. for the Blue Jays, and every other team's top prospect, and be done with it. For this list, you have to be here now and in 2025. The crazy thing about this experiment of guesses: There will be multiple, maybe double-digit, teams that have none.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

EAST

Blue Jays: Danny Jansen, C
Unlike Vlad Jr. and Bo Bichette, he's already on the 40-man roster; he hit three homers in 81 at-bats last season. Like them, he's currently a top-75 prospect.

Orioles: Trey Mancini, OF
The toughest call on the board. The Orioles are starting over in every conceivable way, and there will be a lot of turnover here in the next few years. The guess here is Mancini, who is a fan favorite already and could maybe hang around long enough to be a platoon or bench bat in 2025, when he'll be only 32.

Rays: Willy Adames, SS
Attempting to guess who will be on the Rays' roster in two years, let alone six, is a fool's errand, but Adames is the centerpiece of everything the Rays are going to be trying to do over the next decade.

Red Sox: Mookie Betts, OF
He's a free agent after the 2020 season, but the Red Sox should never let a star like this get away. And he wants to stay

Video: Betts signs record deal to avoid arbitration

Yankees: Giancarlo Stanton, RF
As the guy who is signed through 2027, he's the obvious pick here. Aaron Judge hits free agency in 2023, by the way.

CENTRAL

Indians: Francisco Lindor, SS
It's tough to imagine the Indians letting Lindor go … though they may have to choose between him and Jose Ramirez.

Video: Lindor gets his second career Silver Slugger Award

Royals: Salvador Perez, C
He survived the last teardown. He's their Yadier Molina -- he'll survive any future ones.

Tigers: Jeimer Candelario, 3B
He's more likely than anyone else here to be a member of the next contending Tigers team.

Twins: Max Kepler, OF
Kepler feels like the type of player the Twins would come to some sort of modest, Paul DeJong-esque extension with, doesn't he?

White Sox: Yoan Moncada, 2B
With any luck, Eloy Jimenez will be there right alongside him.

WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, OF
Put it this way: If Mike Trout isn't on the 2025 Angels, everything about that franchise is radically different than it is right now.

Video: Guardado on the latest between Angels and Trout

Astros: Jose Altuve, 2B
Alex Bregman seems like the most likely extension candidate -- Altuve's deal runs out after the 2024 season -- but the Altuve-Astros relationship feels like one that shouldn't be broken.

Athletics: Matt Chapman, 3B
The ideal extension candidate, Chapman could be the face of the franchise whenever it moves into its new digs.

Mariners: Justus Sheffield, LHP
He made his debut in September, so he's on the Mariners' 40-man, even if he might not start the season in the Majors.

Rangers: Rougned Odor, 2B
He, Elvis Andrus and Joey Gallo will be free agents following the 2022 season. Here's betting Odor is the one who sticks around, if anybody does.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuna Jr.
He'll actually reach free agency after the 2024 season, if you are counting the days. (That's to say: If you're every other team in baseball.)

Video: Snitker on best lineup spot for Acuna Jr. in 2019

Marlins: Lewis Brinson, OF
Considering he remains the primary haul from their trades last offseason, Brinson will get every possible opportunity to prove himself.

Mets: Brandon Nimmo, OF
Though maybe only because first base slugging prospect Peter Alonso isn't on the 40-man yet.

Nationals: Juan Soto, OF
If the Nationals don't extend him, he'll hit the free-agent market with Acuna.

Phillies: Rhys Hoskins, 1B
This answer could very well change depending on how free agency shakes out this offseason.

CENTRAL

Brewers: Josh Hader, LHP
Yes, yes, he's a reliever, but still: He seems like one of the few relievers on earth worthy of talking long-term, under-market extension with, yes?

Cardinals: Paul DeJong, SS
The extension he signed last year gives the Cardinals team options on him in both 2024 and '25, and if he keeps playing like he has been, they'll happily pick them both up. (It's also possible the answer here is Yadier Molina, and may be through 2035.)

Cubs: Kris Bryant, 3B
This will be the most-watched are-they-gonna-extend-him-soon? story in baseball over the next couple of years.

Video: Kris Bryant is the No. 8 third baseman right now

Pirates: Mitch Keller, RHP
He's already on the 40-man, and he might be the best pitcher in an already underrated rotation by season's end.

Reds: Eugenio Suarez, 3B
He's signed through 2024, and the Reds have a club option on him for '25. Also, top prospect Nick Senzel isn't on the 40-man yet.

WEST

D-backs: Ketel Marte, SS
He's already got options for 2023 and '24, and he'll just be into his 30s when the D-backs have to make their next decision on him. Newly acquired catcher Carson Kelly could be the answer here as well.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Isn't right now the perfect time to start talking extension with Seager?

Giants: Buster Posey, C
As long as Posey is still playing, he'll be a Giant … right, Farhan?

Padres: Franmil Reyes, OF
It's tough to even imagine this kid being 30 someday.

Rockies: Nolan Arenado, 3B
They did a mega-extension with Charlie Blackmon last offseason, so they are clearly willing to go that route. Arenado is eligible for free agency next winter, so we'll find out his long-term fate pretty soon.

Video: Arenado seeks record $30 million in arbitration

Will Leitch is a columnist for MLB.com.

Inbox: Is adding a lefty on Phillies' horizon?

Beat reporter Todd Zolecki answers fans' questions
MLB.com

Are the Phillies serious about getting a left-handed starter for 2019? If not, why not? Do they think they can contend without one?
-- William B., Dublin, Pa.

The Phillies hoped to sign left-handers Patrick Corbin or J.A. Happ, but fell short each time. Corbin wanted too many years. Happ wanted more money than the Phillies wanted to spend. The Phillies could use a solid left-hander to provide more balance and consistency to the rotation. Dallas Keuchel remains available. He would help, but he reportedly has been seeking a five-year contract. I do not see the Phillies traveling down that road, unless he lingers on the market like Jake Arrieta last spring, or if the Phillies fall short in their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

Are the Phillies serious about getting a left-handed starter for 2019? If not, why not? Do they think they can contend without one?
-- William B., Dublin, Pa.

The Phillies hoped to sign left-handers Patrick Corbin or J.A. Happ, but fell short each time. Corbin wanted too many years. Happ wanted more money than the Phillies wanted to spend. The Phillies could use a solid left-hander to provide more balance and consistency to the rotation. Dallas Keuchel remains available. He would help, but he reportedly has been seeking a five-year contract. I do not see the Phillies traveling down that road, unless he lingers on the market like Jake Arrieta last spring, or if the Phillies fall short in their pursuit of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado.

:: Submit a question to the Phillies Inbox ::

I have said this before, but the Phillies believe in their rotation. It pitched pretty well the first four months of last season before stumbling badly the final two. But the Phillies believe in the predictive powers of FIP, combined with another year of experience and an improved defense. They believe pitchers like Nick Pivetta, Zach Eflin and Vince Velasquez will be better in 2019.

Still, the Phillies know they have left themselves open for criticism if those pitchers do not pitch as expected. It is a risk they seem willing to take.

I don't understand all the Harper/Machado hoopla. The Nats couldn't get it done while they had Harper for [seven] years. I like what the Phillies have done in the offseason so far, at least on paper, and I believe the new and improved lineup gives them a realistic chance at the postseason. But to go beyond that, it requires a bit of luck. Personally, a first-class pitcher in the rotation is what they really need given the new roster. What are your thoughts?
-- Chris L., Harrisburg, Pa.

The Nats didn't win a World Series with Harper and the Orioles didn't win much with Machado, but it doesn't mean those two players aren't two of the best in baseball. The Angels haven't made the playoffs with Mike Trout since 2014, so does that mean that the Phillies shouldn't pursue him if he became available? Of course they should, he's one of the best players in the game.

Superstars in baseball cannot carry a team like superstars in other sports, but it does not mean that they should not be pursued. The Phillies made the right moves from 2009-11, acquiring Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. They were the best team in baseball in 2011. They just did not win the World Series.

The Phillies would be a much better team with Harper or Machado. If they can get one of them, they should.

If the Phillies unload "stupid" money on either Harper or Machado, will there be anything left to continue the rebuild, such as bringing in Trout in the future?
-- Pete M., Allentown, Pa.

That's a very real consideration. If the Phillies fall short with Harper or Machado, they will hope and pray that Trout hits free agency after the 2020 season. But there would be a tremendous risk in pulling back on Harper and Machado this offseason because they think Trout might be available in a couple of years. What if he's not available? What if he signs an extension with the Angels or signs someplace else? Just because Trout is from South Jersey and has Eagles season tickets doesn't mean he's automatically coming to Philly if he becomes a free agent.

If you sign Harper or Machado now, you know you have one of the best players in baseball (and a potential Hall of Famer) for the foreseeable future. If you don't sign one of them, there are no guarantees they get Trout, Mookie Betts, Nolan Arenado, Anthony Rendon or any of the other big-time players set to become free agents in the next couple years.

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

Philadelphia Phillies

Nola, Phillies might be heading to arbitration

Philadelphia agrees on 1-year deals with 8 eligible players
MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could be headed to their first salary arbitration hearing since Ryan Howard in 2008.

The Phils and ace Aaron Nola could not reach an agreement on a 2019 contract before Friday's deadline at 1 p.m. ET. The club offered $4.5 million, according to a baseball source. Nola requested $6.75 million. It is a wide difference in valuation.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies could be headed to their first salary arbitration hearing since Ryan Howard in 2008.

The Phils and ace Aaron Nola could not reach an agreement on a 2019 contract before Friday's deadline at 1 p.m. ET. The club offered $4.5 million, according to a baseball source. Nola requested $6.75 million. It is a wide difference in valuation.

The Phillies might be looking at the fact that only one first-time arbitration starter has been paid more than Dontrelle Willis' $4.35 million in 2006 and David Price's $4.35 million in '12: Dallas Keuchel's $7.25 million in '16, when he won the American League Cy Young Award. But Nola, who finished third in National League Cy Young Award voting last season, could be looking to raise the floor on a figure that has barely budged in 15 years.

It is unclear if the Phils and Nola can reach an agreement before a hearing, but the $2.25 million chasm indicates there is plenty of work to be done. If they cannot reach an agreement, an arbiter will decide between one of the two figures exchanged.

The Phillies could not reach an agreement with Howard in 2008. He won $10 million in his arbitration hearing and a few months later the club won the World Series.

A couple of years later, Howard signed a $125 million contract extension.

Could the Phillies skip the whole process and sign Nola to a multiyear extension? Perhaps, but the Phils are focused on trying to sign Manny Machado or Bryce Harper. The club will meet with Harper in Las Vegas on Saturday.

Philadelphia, however, reached agreements on Friday with eight other arb-eligible players: outfielder Aaron Altherr ($1.35 million), left-handers Jose Alvarez ($1.925 million) and Adam Morgan ($1.1 million), right-handers Jerad Eickhoff ($975,000), Hector Neris ($1.8 million) and Vince Velasquez ($2.249 million), third baseman Maikel Franco ($5.2 million) and second baseman Cesar Hernandez ($7.75 million).

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Aaron Altherr, Jose Alvarez, Jerad Eickhoff, Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Morgan, Hector Neris, Aaron Nola, Vince Velasquez

Phillies hire Machado mentor Dickerson

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies found a new infield coach, and he has strong ties to Manny Machado.

The Phillies have hired former Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson to replace former first-base coach Jose David Flores, who joined Baltimore's staff.

PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies found a new infield coach, and he has strong ties to Manny Machado.

The Phillies have hired former Orioles third-base coach Bobby Dickerson to replace former first-base coach Jose David Flores, who joined Baltimore's staff.

Tweet from @Phillies: #Phillies have finalized their 2019 major league coaching staff. Bobby Dickerson has been hired as infield coach and Paco Figueroa has been named first base coach and will oversee outfield and baserunning. pic.twitter.com/Saxq8XqCZh

Dickerson has been a longtime mentor to Machado, whom the Phillies want to sign to a multiyear contract. Machado visited the Phils late last month at Citizens Bank Park. They have made an official offer and reportedly will make a follow-up offer soon.

The Phillies received glowing reviews about Dickerson from many who have worked with him. Certainly Machado would like to have Dickerson in Philly, but the Phils know that this is not something that will sway Machado.

The money has to be right.

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

Philadelphia Phillies

Cases for, against Phils signing Harper, Machado

MLB.com

PHILADELPHIA -- Is everybody else ready for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign with somebody? The Phillies are right there with you.

Two of the game's greatest players continue to chase record-busting contracts with Spring Training a little more than a month away. The Phillies will meet on Saturday with Harper and his agent Scott Boras in Las Vegas. The group will include at least managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler. The Phils could make Harper an official offer then. Philadelphia met late last month with Machado and his agent Dan Lozano at Citizens Bank Park and made Machado an initial offer, and NBC Philly reported recently that the team will make a follow-up offer this week.

PHILADELPHIA -- Is everybody else ready for Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign with somebody? The Phillies are right there with you.

Two of the game's greatest players continue to chase record-busting contracts with Spring Training a little more than a month away. The Phillies will meet on Saturday with Harper and his agent Scott Boras in Las Vegas. The group will include at least managing partner John Middleton, president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler. The Phils could make Harper an official offer then. Philadelphia met late last month with Machado and his agent Dan Lozano at Citizens Bank Park and made Machado an initial offer, and NBC Philly reported recently that the team will make a follow-up offer this week.

Almost everybody in baseball still believes the Phillies will sign one of the two superstars. Internally, the team remains optimistic of landing at least one, as well, even though there are reports that neither player prefers Philly. (For what it's worth, two people told MLB.com last year that Harper likes Philadelphia.)

• Phils poised to make their pitch to Harper

Video: Nats, Phils heating up on Harper and Machado

The Phils feel good because they have more financial muscle and flexibility than any remaining suitors. If they want to outspend everybody, they can.

There are risks to committing a potential $300 million-plus contract to one player, but there are considerable payoffs, too. Consider for a moment that Harper has a 30.7 WAR and Machado has a 30.2 WAR through their age-25 seasons, according to FanGraphs.

Forty-three players since World War II generated between 20-40 WAR through their age-25 seasons, with more than 10 years passed since then. (The 10-year qualifier is here because Harper and Machado could sign 10-year deals.)

Nineteen are in the Hall of Fame (20, if one includes Joe Torre). Five more could be enshrined in Cooperstown, N.Y., in the next 10 years (Barry Bonds, Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera, Scott Rolen and Adrian Beltre), and strong arguments can be made that others like Dick Allen, Ted Simmons and Bobby Grich should also be there.

Nearly two-thirds of the 43 have serious Hall of Fame credentials. That is pretty remarkable. The only two players in that group that should give Middleton and Co. nightmares are Jim Ray Hart and Grady Sizemore. Hart registered just 4.0 WAR during the rest of his career after his age-25 season and Sizemore just 1.4. But what are the odds that Harper or Machado turn out like them?

If Harper and Machado continue to play like superstars for the next decade, they should be in the Hall of Fame. And if either spends the next decade in Philadelphia, they could be the first player to have a Phillies "P" on their Hall of Fame plaque since Jim Bunning in 1996.

Here is a look at why the Phils should and should not sign Harper and Machado.

Sign Harper
Harper is arguably the most recognizable player in baseball and the No. 1 choice for Phillies fans. He will sell tickets and merchandise, he will bring more eyeballs to TV and more ears to radio. He brings value on and off the field to a franchise, which Boras will hammer home probably 400 million times to Middleton on Saturday.

Video: Harper to meet with Phillies' front office in Vegas

But Harper is much more than a guy with a high Q rating. He is 26, so he might not have hit his prime on the field yet.

MLB.com's Andrew Simon on Wednesday used sabermetrician Brian Cartwright's Oliver system to project Harper's next seven seasons. Oliver projections can be conservative, so MLB.com's Tom Tango also assembled optimistic (90th percentile) and pessimistic (10th percentile) projections.

The optimistic projection has Harper with a 36.3 WAR over the next seven seasons, which means he produces like Andrew McCutchen from 2012-18 (one National League Most Valuable Player Award, top five in NL MVP voting three other times, four All-Star appearances and four Silver Slugger Awards). Some analysts have pegged a rough value of $8 million-plus per win when calculating WAR, so that production theoretically would be worth roughly $300 million on the open market.

The middle-of-the-road Oliver projection has Harper with a 24.7 WAR over the next seven seasons, which is worth roughly $207 million. The comparison here is Justin Upton from 2012-18.

Video: Duquette analyzes if Phillies are a fit for Harper

If Harper hits that middle-of-the-road projection or better, he will be a good buy, assuming his health and defense hold up.

More on that later.

Sign Machado
Machado is the Phillies' No. 1 choice because he not only can hit, but he is also a Gold Glove Award-caliber third baseman. Machado is 26, like Harper, which means he also might not have hit his prime.

Simon looked at three different projections for Machado with the assumption that he plays an average shortstop. Of course, the Phils expect Machado to play elite-level third base, which means the club's projections could be higher.

Video: Klentak on Machado's visit to Philadelphia

The optimistic projection has Machado with a 33.0 WAR over the next seven seasons, which is worth roughly $276 million. The comparison here is Robinson Cano from 2012-18, when he finished in the top 10 in American League MVP voting four times, made five All-Star teams and won two Silver Slugger Awards.

The Oliver projection has Machado with a 22.5 WAR, which is worth roughly $188 million. The comparison is Evan Longoria from 2012-18. But if Machado plays the next seven seasons at third base at his customary level, his projected WAR jumps to 28, which is worth roughly $235 million.

Machado at third base is more than three WAR better than Harper's Oliver projection, which probably is why the Phillies prefer him.

Machado is also incredibly durable. No one has more plate appearances over the past four seasons than him. If you want a superstar that plays nearly every day, Machado is the guy. Plus, he is coming off arguably his best season. Machado posted career bests in on-base percentage (.367), slugging percentage (.538), strikeout rate (14.7 percent), walk rate (9.9 percent), home runs (37), Weighted On-base Average (.377), Weighted Runs Created Plus (141), hard-hit rate (48.2 percent) and average exit velocity (91.6 mph).

The only question is if he will fit in Philly, particularly following the "Johnny Hustle" stuff?

Video: Zolecki on Phillies' talks with Harper, Machado

Pass on Harper
The biggest concerns about Harper are his health and poor defensive metrics. Harper has endured injuries throughout his career, which should not be discounted. What if he breaks down in his early 30s?

But Harper's defense in 2018 also ranked among the worst in baseball. Boras said Harper needed more time to bounce back from a hyperextended knee late in 2017. MLB.com's Mike Petriello dug into Harper's defensive struggles and found there is no reason he cannot bounce back with more aggressive play.

If Harper remains a defensive liability, though, his value plummets. The pessimistic projection for Harper is a 13.1 WAR over the next seven seasons, which is worth roughly $110 million. The comparison here is Hunter Pence from 2012-18.

Pass on Machado
The pessimistic projection for Machado is a 12.0 WAR, which is worth roughly $100 million. The comparison here is Hanley Ramirez from 2012-18.

But perhaps the only real drawback to Machado is the "Johnny Hustle" stuff. Phillies fans will boo Machado whenever he jogs to first base on a routine ground ball or pop fly, particularly because he shined a light on it. Machado has done other controversial things on the field in the past, but let's be honest, fans only get upset about that stuff when it is not their player. If Machado does something foolish on the field while wearing red pinstripes, Phils fans won't mind nearly as much.

The real question is can Machado handle the boos from his hometown crowd? And do the Phillies want to deal with it? He will be the face of the franchise. If you're going to give somebody $300 million, you at least want to know the fans will love him.

Video: What mystery teams may be pursuing Machado?

In the end
The positives outweigh the negatives for both. We are talking about potential Hall of Famers here, talents the Phillies do not seem to have coming through the system anytime soon. The Phils have positioned themselves well for the moment. They can sign Harper or Machado and still have the means to add more talent, or maybe extend somebody like Aaron Nola.

Middleton famously told former first baseman Ryan Howard that he wants his (bleeping) trophy back following the 2009 World Series. Having Harper or Machado in the Phils' lineup for the next several seasons would be a good step in that direction.

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

Philadelphia Phillies, Bryce Harper, Manny Machado