While craving young pitching talent in any trade involving Manny Machado, the Orioles also could use a replacement for him at shortstop, or at least a temporary plan for filling the position. They aren’t going to shift the rest of the season and leave the spot empty.
Cadyn Grenier, the second-round pick last month out of Oregon State, is playing at low Single-A Delmarva and must wait for his chance in the majors. His defense alone could elevate him to the Double-A level, according to some people in the organization, but he’s still developing as a hitter.
Tim Beckham is staying ready just in case he needs to slide back over to short. He moved to third base this season to accommodate Machado, but continues to take ground balls at his old position.
He won’t overthink it.
“I just come to the field and play ball,” he said. “I’m a ballplayer. I come to the field and just want to figure out ways I can help the team win and stay within my approach and stay within my routine and play at 7:05. Everything else, as far as what position I’m playing, that’s out of my reach, that’s out of my control.
“I like to live by the motto of ‘Control what I can control,’ you know? Control the controllables. As far as, if they want me to move to short or if they want me to stay at third, I can’t control that. I leave those decisions up to the front office and I just want to come here and stay within my routine and stay focused.”
Manager Buck Showalter removed Machado late in Sunday’s 10-1 loss to the Twins and put Beckham at shortstop, the score dictating the switch. But it’s probably wise to also consider how an injury to Machado could destroy trade talks and leave the Orioles with nothing except a draft pick as compensation for losing him in free agency.
There have been a couple of close calls this season. You can feel an entire organization cringe when Machado swings at a pitch and slips down to one knee or stretches awkwardly to step on the bag after contorting his body to catch a throw that’s behind him.
Beckham’s accumulated only two innings at short this season, but he never strays far from it.
“I still love taking ground balls at short,” he said. “I take them at short, I take them at third. You never know what’s going to happen.”
As Beckham spoke yesterday, long before hitting his two-run homer in Game 2, media was surrounding Machado just a few lockers to his right. Cameras, microphones and digital recorders shoved in his face. Pregame preparations, and maybe a meal, put on hold again.
“He’s had a hell of a year, man,” Beckham said. “He’s a good player. He’s a really good player and he deserves it. The All-Star Game, it’s what he deserves. He’s earned it. He’s banged and we haven’t had the year that we wanted coming in, and for him to stay focused and keep playing good baseball, it’s impressive.”
Machado batted third again last night and was directly behind center fielder Adam Jones in Game 1, the veteran center fielder also the subject of trade talks but holder of 10-5 rights that could complicate any deal. Zach Britton escaped a jam in the ninth to earn his second save, still an Oriole for at least another day.
Showalter leaned against the dugout railing, his customary spot, and wouldn’t allow himself to become nostalgic and soak up the moment as if it could be gone tomorrow. He’d rather plant his feet in the present.
“I don’t think that’s productive,” he said. “I’m not naïve and I know what’s going on. You do, the fans do, and I just leave it in Dan’s (Duquette) hands. We’ve got our hands full down here, obviously. Dan and ownership are working on things like that that can improve the club and the organization short-term, long-term, and I stay out of it unless they need me to get involved. But I’ve got my hands full here.
“I read the players. It certainly creates some unknown, which makes players uncomfortable. They kind of like to know what’s coming. But that’s part of the business.”
There must be a feeling in the organization akin to raising a child and sending him or her off to college or into marriage. Except Machado is going to leave the family.
“I like the fact that he still reaches for some opinions on different things,” Showalter said. “He very quietly does it. I know Bobby Dickerson, he’s been with him since he was in Aberdeen, Delmarva, all that. He’s always talking to Scott (Coolbaugh). I watch them work in the cages constantly about a little something. He had a little period, it seemed like four or five games he was a little long, a little pull-happy, and I saw Scott and him doing some things, getting back to using the whole field.
“I think he’s still very receptive to improvement. Always trying to get better. There’s a lot of things. He hasn’t changed as much as people think. It might be a different haircut, it might be a little bit different body. He’s obviously 20 or 30 pounds more, but the skill set, he’s taking what the good Lord blessed him with and his family blessed him with and has taken it to another level. And that’s something he should be proud of.”
A source confirmed last night that the Yankees have reached out to the Orioles regarding Machado, as first reported by The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. I’m told that they’re also checking on starting pitching and relievers, including Britton, which indicates a potential interest in negotiating a package deal.
Despite speculation within the industry and media, the Orioles aren’t totally against consummating trades with the Yankees. They’ve done it recently to obtain pitchers Richard Bleier and Yefry Ramirez. There is a precedent.
Machado sits on a much higher plane, of course. He’s a “singular talent,” as someone in the industry described him, and sending him to a hated rival within the division would be hard to do. But it isn’t strictly forbidden.
As one person in the organization said, “It always depends on the offer.”
Having the Yankees suddenly thrust into the picture could push the Dodgers, Diamondbacks or Brewers to step up with a more enticing offer. Competition is a good thing. And the Yankees are providing it.