ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - How ironic that a team slashing one of the lowest payrolls in baseball has a manager with the last name Cash.
The Rays traded center fielder Denard Span and closer Alex Colomé before last night’s game against the Orioles. They were in third place in the American League East, only two games below .500 and certainly within sniffing distance of a wild card, though with a substantial portion of the season in front of them.
Some people call it “tanking,” some call it a “sling blade.” Also good for slashing.
The Mariners added about $9 million in salary. The Rays ranked 28th in payroll prior to the deal.
The players union filed a grievance to Major League Baseball in February against the Rays, Athletics, Pirates and Marlins for failing to spend revenue-sharing money in an attempt to field a competitive team. That sound you hear inside The Trop is a collective shrug.
I mention the Span trade in part because there’s been media speculation that the Mariners could pursue Adam Jones and bring him back to the organization that drafted him. They moved Dee Gordon to second base following Robinson Canó’s suspension. Span could at least platoon in center and eliminate the rumors.
Manny Machado can’t escape them. He’s been linked to a multitude of clubs dating back to the Winter Meetings, including the Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Phillies, Yankees and both Chicago teams. The Braves are now regarded as a sleeper pick in the sweepstakes.
It makes for good copy, but I’ll repeat this morning that the Orioles aren’t anywhere close to moving Machado. They aren’t actively shopping him. They’re just taking calls, which seems like an obvious reaction to a ringing cell phone.
According to industry sources, the Phillies left open the possibility of engaging in talks while they were in Baltimore earlier this month, and the Cubs contacted Duquette to express interest with an eye toward the non-waiver deadline. It’s only May 26. There’s nothing hot despite the Orioles’ last-place positioning in the American League East.
I’m also told that specific players haven’t been discussed.
While the Cubs typically are labeled as the most aggressive suitors over the winter, the Cardinals actually surpassed them and the Diamondbacks stayed in contact. But none of the offers were deemed worthy of the three-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glove winner and Platinum Glove recipient.
Machado began last night batting .335/.409/.634 with 13 doubles, 15 home runs and 44 RBIs in 50 games. He led the majors in RBIs and was tied for second in home runs.
The Orioles have no qualms about waiting until they get closer to the non-waiver deadline to trade Machado if that’s the end result. They don’t feel a sense of urgency in May or June, don’t feel that the market will dry up as his rental period shrinks.
I certainly don’t get the impression that they will meet resistance from ownership if the right proposal comes along. It simply hasn’t at this point, and teams aren’t blowing up Duquette’s phone in late May.
Meanwhile, Chris Davis lined a single into left field last night and extended his arm toward the Orioles’ dugout on the third base side as he dropped the bat and ran to first. He rounded the bag and gave coach Wayne Kirby an exaggerated fist bump.
I’m guessing that the location of the hit brought about Davis’ animated reaction. Or just the fact that he got a hit after a 2-for-38 stretch.
Davis grounded to third baseman Matt Duffy in his first at-bat before singling off left-hander Ryan Yarbrough. Davis is 6-for-44 versus southpaws this season after striking out in the sixth and flying out against former Oriole Vidal Nuño in the ninth.
Before the Orioles took the field for batting practice, Davis and hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh exited the clubhouse and headed to the indoor cage for some early swings. Davis joked about how he was searching for Coolbaugh.
No hard feelings, it would appear, after Hall of Famer Jim Palmer’s criticism of Davis on Wednesday night’s “O’s Xtra” on MASN included Coolbaugh allegedly saying he hadn’t worked with the first baseman over the winter. Coolbaugh told reporters in Chicago that they met up about three times.
“Chris has had great success over his time with Scott and he knows that,” manager Buck Showalter said. “It’s something that was dealt with (Thursday) very professionally by Jim and Scott and I’d like to think myself and Chris, and those things, believe me, there are a lot of things like that that happen, maybe not just like that, but that we deal with every day that don’t get public.
“Jim loves the Orioles, Jim wants the Orioles to do well and it’s a labor of love for him and all of us, so sometimes things and frustration for all of us, we deal with those things. And it was a nice little rally in a lot of ways. Anytime one of your guys, whether it’s Scott or me or you or whatever, you rally around it. That’s just what we do and it can be a positive thing if you embrace it that way. But it’s not something that you don’t deal with every day, especially with some of the challenges we’ve had.
“We’ve played 50 games. We haven’t even played a third of our season yet. And I’m hoping that (Thursday’s) game kind of gets us going in the direction that we’re capable of going.”