LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The topic of a potential Orioles trade of Manny Machado has not slowed a bit at the Winter Meetings. Clearly, the club is open to moving a star player one year before his contract is due to end.
At the same time, if Machado is still an Oriole on opening day, will he be playing third base or shortstop? He might be moving over on the diamond. It is clear the Orioles are discussing that topic internally as well.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter was a guest earlier today on “MASN All Access” and addressed the topic.
“Obviously, I’ve had some conversations with Manny about it (moving to short),” Showalter said. “I’ve got a feeling with what direction we’ll head, but I’m not going to broadcast it. It impacts a lot of things.
“One thing I think Manny learned when he played shortstop a lot when J.J. (Hardy) was out was how taxing physically it is. And how mentally, more than anything, there are so many more responsibilities. Especially the way J.J. played it. I talk about point-counterpoint and how that all fits. It you do this, it affects that. As a manger, you have to think about the big picture that affects a lot of people.”
The position is indeed demanding and could impact a player on offense. Would that be a concern for the Orioles?
“Yeah, but it depends on who it is,” Showalter said. “I’ve actually seen it affect some guys positively, where they weren’t constantly thinking about their hitting. But the concentration level and regardless of how you are hitting, for Tim (Beckham) or Manny or J.J., that is such an important position. But they are all important.
“It is something we weren’t at good at last year. I was not happy with our defense in the outfield and the infield compared to the standard we’ve set. And it is something we are going to get better at.”
I asked Showalter his take on the trade speculation swirling around Machado right now.
“First of all, he is going to come out real good and he knows that,” Showalter said. “Manny is mature. He and his wife, they’re good people. If you look at what he can control and what he can’t control, you know, life is going to be good for him. He knows it.
“He loves Baltimore. He would like to play there the rest of his career. We’ll see if that works or if it’s best for everybody to do something else. I’ll leave that up to other people.”
Showalter discussed slugger Chris Davis, as well. A player that is looking to bounce back in 2018 after hitting .215 with 26 homers and 61 RBIs. His OPS has dropped the last three seasons from .923 in 2015 to .792 to .732 in 2017.
“Obviously, Chris’ damage-to-contact ratio is pretty high,” Showalter said. “I think Chris puts a lot of pressure and lot of expectations on himself to live up to expectations people have for him. I think, as you mature and get into your career, those things get better and better. We and he have to do a better job of getting back to that consistency and that run producer that we know that he can be. I think Chris is going to have a big year for us.”
Finally, we got the skipper’s reaction to the Yankees adding Giancarlo Stanton and how it impacts the Orioles.
“Good for them. What’s new?,” Showalter said. “That is an excuse if we use it, and we won’t. They signed other people. I could name probably 10 guys since I’ve been here that everybody thought was a guy that would make them go 162-0. Last time I looked, Boston won that division last year. They are a good club that got better.
“They can be beaten. We can do it. We’ve got plenty of support from our ownership and fan base. That is an excuse if you want to use it. Every day, I know our people are grinding. The finished product is a long way off. This year, it is late March, so try to keep that in mind.”