Machado talks heat up overnight and Rule 5 draft is today

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - While you were sleeping, the White Sox emerged as the most aggressive team pursuing the Orioles’ Manny Machado, according to reports from The Athletic and USA Today.

The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal wrote that the White Sox are offering the Orioles a package that includes right-hander Lucas Giolito or right-hander Michael Kopech, but not both pitchers. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported the Orioles believe they can move Machado by the end of the week with the strength of their offers. It is not known if a Machado-to-Chicago deal would be contingent on Machado signing an extension with the White Sox or if they would seek a 72-hour window to negotiate with the three-time All-Star. There is a possibility that the White Sox would acquire Machado and flip him to another team, which could be the Yankees.

Manny-Machado-arms-open-black-sidebar.jpgEither way the Orioles would have to think long and hard about emerging with either Giolito or Kopech, who is ranked right now as the No. 10 prospect in baseball by Giolito was the No. 16 pick in the 2012 draft by the Nationals. At Triple-A Charlotte last year, he went 6-10 with a 4.48 ERA in 24 starts. Then in seven late-season starts in the majors, he went 3-3 with a 2.38 ERA for the White Sox, allowing just 31 hits in 45 1/3 innings. Giolito has been ranked as a national top 100 prospect five times over the the years by Baseball America, reaching as high as No. 7 at the end of the 2014 season and No. 5 after 2015.

Kopech went 9-8 with a 2.88 ERA in 25 starts last year, with 22 coming at Double-A and three at Triple-A. Over 134 1/3 innings, he has fanned 172. Kopech’s fastball easily sits in the 96-98 mph range and touches and exceeds 100. He reportedly has thrown pitches at 105 mph. He was Boston’s first-round pick in the 2014 draft, taken 33rd overall. Kopech is 21 and was part of that four-player trade by the White Sox with Boston at the Winter Meetings last year that sent lefty Chris Sale to the Red Sox.

The Orioles have reportedly also talked about a Machado trade with the Yankees, Red Sox, Giants and Cardinals, possibly among others.

So it has been an eventful Winter Meetings of Machado talk and rumors. And as the meetings come to an end today so too soon could Machado’s tenure as an Oriole.

Rule 5 today: Will the Orioles make another pick in the Rule 5 draft today? It seems very likely. Would they make two picks? That does not seem likely. They already have to carry outfielder Anthony Santander for the first 44 days of the 2018 season before his Rule 5 status is over.

The O’s have made at least one Rule 5 pick every year since 2006.

2006: Pitcher Alfredo Simon
2007: Pitcher Randor Bierd
2008: Catcher Lou Palmisano
2009: Pitcher Ben Snyder
2010: Pitcher Adrian Rosario
2011: Infielder/outfielder Ryan Flaherty
2012: Pitcher T.J. McFarland
2013: Infielder Michael Almanzar
2014: Pitcher Logan Verrett
2015: Outfielder Joey Rickard
2016: Outfielders Aneury Tavárez and Anthony Santander

The O’s added two Rule 5 picks in 2014. Pitcher Jason García though was technically drafted in the Rule 5 by Houston and then traded to Baltimore.

The Orioles have the 11th pick today. But that could turn out to be higher if teams pass and/or have a full 40-man roster before Baltimore’s turn.

J.J. Cooper of Baseball America, a real expert on the Rule 5, believes the Orioles have done a good job in this draft in recent seasons.

“The Orioles understand, for one thing, they are not looking to hit a home run,” Cooper said. “You are not going to get another Johan Santana or Josh Hamilton. What the Orioles have done regularly is find guys that can contribute. They have a pretty realistic understanding of what you can and can’t get out of the Rule 5 draft.”

Cooper estimated that between five and seven teams would make selections this morning starting at 9 a.m. before the Orioles.

Here is a partial list of current Orioles players that are eligible to be taken today as they are not on the O’s current 40-man roster and have been in the organization long enough to be eligible to be selected: Cristian Alvarado, Armando Araiza, Brandon Barker, Pat Connaughton, Drew Dosch, Paul Fry, Randolph Gassaway, Jay Gonzalez, Luis Gonzalez, Matthew Grimes, Josh Hart, Jordan Kipper, Branden Kline, Lucas Long, Adrian Marin, John Means, Yermin Mercedes, Alex Murphy, Ademar Rifaela, Ryan Ripken, Erick Salcedo, Travis Seabrooke, Steve Wilkerson, Matt Wotherspoon, Mike Yastrzemski.

A wild guess - the Oriole most likely to be taken today is lefty Gonzalez. A real long shot that could be taken is catcher Araiza. But Cooper has over 80 players on his Rule 5 preview of players that could get taken this morning and none are Orioles.

The last few years the number of players taken in the Rule 5 draft has been on the increase. There were nine players selected in the major league phase in 2013, 14 in 2014, 16 in 2015 and 18 by the clubs last year.

The last Oriole player taken by another team is probably the answer to a trivia question. In 2015, the Angels selected Ji-Man Choi from Baltimore. He had just recently been signed by the Orioles as a minor league free agent. We hardly knew him.

Before that, the last time the O’s lost anyone in this draft was in 2010 when they lost a pair of pitchers. The Brewers selected right-hander Pat Egan. He was returned to Baltimore before spring training was over. The Mets selected right-hander Pedro Beato. He was the Orioles’ selection at No. 32 overall in the 2006 draft. After bouncing around with several teams after the Mets traded him to Boston, the Orioles re-acquired Beato as a minor league free agent in March 2015. He pitched two more years on the O’s farm and then was in the Phillies organization last year. Right now, he is a minor league free agent once again. He is, as they say, well traveled.

Here is an entry from yesterday where Cooper provided some possible names the O’s could be looking at in the draft.

End it with a question: O’s fans have written on my blog for a long time now and many have said if they can’t sign Machado, they should trade him. They are now trying to trade him and may even be close to a deal. Are fans still on board with that?

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