Confirming the various reports on trade talks with the Diamondbacks, the Orioles have discussed Brandon Drury as part of the return for third baseman Manny Machado. Just one of the many names tossed around since they arrived at the Winter Meetings.
If you’re alphabetizing them, Drury is high up on the list.
The Diamondbacks seem to be the most aggressive team among the Machado suitors after doubling back, but I’ve got no reason to believe that the sides are close to a deal. The Orioles continue to listen and they continue to seek multiple young, controllable starting pitchers who can impact the rotation for many years while also counting on their own prospects to make the necessary strides. And that includes the ability to stay off the disabled list.
Drury, 25, is under team control through 2022. He’s batted .271/.319/.448 in parts of three seasons and totaled 31 doubles and 16 home runs in 134 games in 2016 and 37 doubles and 13 home runs in 135 games in 2017.
As a right-handed hitter with a modest on-base percentage and poor walk-to-strikeout ratio, he wouldn’t fill every need for the Orioles, but he’s started 121 games at second base, 34 at third base, one at shortstop, 52 in left field and 27 in right field. He certainly could co-exist with Jonathan Schoop, who figures to stay at second base in 2018.
(I’ve heard the suggestion from fans that the Orioles could put Schoop at third base while moving Machado to shortstop and Tim Beckham to second base. Because you certainly want to put three players at new positions while preaching the need to tighten up the defense.)
The Orioles certainly could use a super utility player if that’s how they envision Drury, who also reportedly has drawn interest from the Yankees in discussions that included left-hander Patrick Corbin. He could settle mostly at one position with Machado gone. But ... can he pitch?
* Third baseman Mike Moustakas remains on the market and he continues to make sense for the Orioles, who have discussed him internally and weighed the pros and cons.
They need a left-handed bat and Moustakas would play every day. They could find another one to at least platoon in right field.
The knock on Moustakas in those internal discussions centers on his career .305 on-base percentage, though he batted .284/.348/.470 in 147 games in 2015 and made his first All-Star team. It was below .300 in the previous three seasons. He doesn’t walk enough. But others are willing to overlook those shortcomings.
The Orioles don’t have a third baseman in the system who’s ready to replace Machado. It’s wise to continue checking the market for Moustakas and whether his price comes down.
Don’t hold your breath for a pillow contract, but maybe he doesn’t get the five years and $85 million projected by MLBTradeRumors.com.
Moustakas rejected the Royals’ qualifying offer. I don’t care. The Orioles shouldn’t care.
Pitching is the priority and the Orioles aren’t going to invest heavily in a position player, but they should consider Moustakas and ignore the warts.
* An issue for the Orioles as they try to fill out their rotation has been the poor medicals on some of the starters that they’re considering, according to a source.
I don’t have any names to pass along, unfortunately, but multiple pitchers have raised red flags and lowered the number of arms available to the club.
The free agent market is underwhelming after you remove Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, assuming none of them are going to sign for fewer than four years. Executive vice president Dan Duquette pretty much nixed the possibility of the Orioles offering more than three years to a pitcher.
The club’s four free agent starters - Chris Tillman, Ubaldo Jiménez, Wade Miley and Jeremy Hellickson - remain unsigned and I’d guess that only Tillman is a possibility to return. There’s no way that Jiménez comes back to the organization.
* MLB Network’s annual “Top 10 Right Now!” show ranked Machado eighth among major league third baseman, a drop from third in 2017.
Here’s the list:
Kris Bryant, Cubs
Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
Justin Turner, Dodgers
Anthony Rendon, Nationals
Adrian Beltre, Rangers
José Ramírez, Indians
Manny Machado, Orioles
Alex Bregman, Astros
Kyle Seager, Mariners
Beckham finished 10th among shortstops and the Yankees’ Didi Gregorius didn’t make the list. Seems odd to me.
Here’s the list:
Carlos Correa, Astros
Corey Seager, Dodgers
Francisco Lindor, Indians
Trea Turner, Nationals
Andrelton Simmons, Angels
Jean Segura, Mariners
Paul DeJong, Cardinals
Elvis Andrus, Rangers
Trevor Story, Rockies
Tim Beckham, Orioles