LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The Orioles have become much more open to trading third baseman Manny Machado since arriving this week at the Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort, with a source confirming that talks have “heated up” regarding the three-time All-Star.
I wrote yesterday of the Phillies’ interest and how the Orioles were compiling a list of prospects that could be included in a package. Other teams checked on Machado’s availability, and while executive vice president Dan Duquette has resisted a rebuild, there’s been a shift toward shopping the three-time All-Star with little hope of keeping him in Baltimore beyond 2018.
The Cardinals are another team reported to be interested in Machado, who might land a contract exceeding $300 million in free agency.
Duquette is searching for two starting pitchers this winter, but the return for Machado will be lessened if he remains in his free agent season and leaves as a rental. The team acquiring Machado could be given a 72-hour window to work out an extension.
The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reported this morning that the Orioles were shopping Machado and confirmed the player’s interest in moving to shortstop, though the two-time Gold Glove winner doesn’t wield the necessary power to influence a trade. He can’t veto a deal if the team acquiring him does so with the intent of keeping him at third base. But shortstop is his preference.
I’ve written about Machado’s desire to go back to his original position. Showalter discussed the move with him shortly before the season ended, according to a source. But there figured to be resistance from within the organization, some of it coming from Duquette, who traded for Tim Beckham at the non-waiver trade deadline.
With no utility player on the roster, Beckham would be a good fit for the role except that he’d much prefer to stay at shortstop. Also, the Orioles don’t have a logical successor for third base.
They could put Beckham at third or move Jonathan Schoop to the corner and put Beckham at second. There’s really no other choice beyond trading for a third baseman or finding one in free agency. It seems unlikely that Chris Davis would move across the infield.
One line of thinking with Machado is that a switch to shortstop would energize him and lead to better overall production next season. He batted .230/.296/.445 in the first half this year before finishing with a .259/.310/.471 slash line, 33 doubles, 33 home runs and 95 RBIs in 156 games.
Appearing this morning on “MASN All Access,” Showalter confirmed his discussions with Machado related to playing shortstop.
“Obviously, I’ve had some conversations with Manny about it,” Showalter said. “I’ve got a feeling with what direction we’ll head, but I’m not going to broadcast it. It impacts a lot of things.
“One thing I think Manny learned when he played shortstop a lot when J.J. (Hardy) was out was how taxing physically it is, and how mentally, more than anything, there are so many more responsibilities. Especially the way J.J. played it. I talk about point-counterpoint and how that all fits. It you do this, it affects that. As a manger, you have to think about the big picture that affects a lot of people.”
What about the trade talk?
“First of all, he is going to come out real good and he knows that,” Showalter said. “Manny is mature. He and his wife, they’re good people. If you look at what he can control and what he can’t control, you know, life is going to be good for him. He knows it.
“He loves Baltimore. He would like to play there the rest of his career. We’ll see if that works or if it’s best for everybody to do something else. I’ll leave that up to other people.”