The Orioles haven’t changed their stance that Manny Machado will represent them tonight at the All-Star Game. There’s no way he’s going to be traded before first pitch. However, it still seems likely that he’s wearing another uniform by Friday’s start to the season’s second half.
A source confirmed again today that Machado probably will be moved by the end of the week. I wrote yesterday that it was “very close,” and now comes word via ESPN’s Buster Olney that the Orioles have the structure of a deal in place with an unknown team and are “going through the medicals/paperwork.”
Machado may no longer have to go through customs in Toronto.
MLB Network’s Jon Heyman has identified the Dodgers as the current favorite. They remained in the running yesterday in a group that still included the Phillies and Brewers, according to a source.
The Dodgers have been reluctant to part with outfielder Alex Verdugo, infielder Gavin Lux and their top young pitchers, including Walker Buehler, Yadier Alvarez and Dustin May. The Orioles also have expressed interest in catcher Will Smith.
Believe it or not, there are other intriguing stories in D.C. besides Machado. A few actually have Orioles connections.
The Orioles got 15 wins and a sub-4.00 ERA out of Bud Norris during the 2014 regular season, and another victory in Game 3 of the American League Division Series. He made significant contributions following a trade the previous summer that cost the Orioles outfielder LJ Hoes, a competitive balance pick and a local left-hander pitching in the lower level of the minors.
Josh Hader turned out to be the key piece in the deal, and the Orioles’ initial reluctance to surrender him proved to be the right instinct. He’s an All-Star with the Brewers, a dominant reliever with sick strikeout totals and long flowing locks. But let’s focus on the stats.
A graduate of Old Mill High School in Millersville, which also produced the guy writing this article, Hader has appeared in 32 games with the Brewers and registered a 1.50 ERA and 0.792 WHIP while also averaging a whopping 16.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Eighty-nine of them in only 48 innings. Only 19 hits allowed.
Though surrounded by much bigger names in the National League clubhouse, Hader clearly belongs with the group.
“I’m just still trying to take it all in, but it’s definitely a great experience so far,” said Hader, who really took off after deciding to pitch exclusively from the stretch. “It’s definitely an honor, and just trying to enjoy myself and take it all in.”
Hader was a starter at Single-A Delmarva in 2013 after the Orioles, who selected him in the 19th round the previous year, gave him a $25,000 bonus and watched his velocity climb from the high-80s into the mid-90s, a sweet complement to a delivery that made it extremely tough for hitters to pick up the ball. The Astros flipped him to the Brewers on July 30, 2015 as part of the package for outfielder Carlos Gomez and pitcher Mike Fiers.
The local kid wanted to make good with the Orioles, but he learned at an early age that baseball is a business. Two trades and he’s only 24.
“Obviously, that’s what you want to be,” he said. “You want to be that hometown guy where you go through the minor leagues and you make your debut in front of all your fans and family and friends. But the main goal is to become a big league,r and I’m trying to be a big leaguer for as long as I possibly can.
“Obviously, when I was in low-A and not knowing much about professional baseball and getting traded, it was definitely a different type of feeling. But they say keep working on what your goal is, and my goal was to be a big leaguer. No matter what team it was, I came a long way through the minors, meeting a lot of new people, a lot of coaches that impacted me as a pitcher and even as a person. It’s definitely a good thing getting to meet a lot of people helping me out in that way.”
Update: Machado could be traded by Wednesday, according to a source, and the Dodgers are the favorites to get him.
Double-A outfielder Yusniel Diaz appears to be part of the deal, though pitching also would come back to the Orioles.
Diaz, 21, is batting .314/.428/.477 in 59 games at Double-A Tulsa, with 10 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 30 RBIs in 220 at-bats. Born in Havana, Cuba, Diaz is a career .288/.363/.437 hitter in three minor league seasons.
Diaz homered twice in the All-Star Futures Game, a two-run shot in the fifth and a solo shot in the seventh that tied the score.