FanFest follow-up: Machado, the rotation and more prospect talk

At FanFest, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette said he is confident the club will still be able to fill its, shall we say, thin starting rotation. Manager Buck Showalter reminded fans that it’s only January and that analysts doubt his team every year.

And keeping with that theme, when vice president of baseball operations and former Oriole Brady Anderson met with reporters, he echoed those thoughts. He feels the club still has the time and resources to add a solid pitcher or more for a reasonable price. Just who that will be, we wait to find out.

“I do (think we can do that),” Anderson said about adding a decent pitcher at a reasonable price. “We have an owner who, if it’s not clear that he’s willing to spend beyond our market position by now, it never will be. Resources haven’t been an issue with us in quite some time.”

Anderson was reminded, however, that there may not be enough resources (read: dollars) to re-sign Manny Machado.

Manny-Machado-hand-up-white-sidebar.jpg“Well, that could be a philosophical issue, too,” Anderson said. “We might of just not come up with quite enough years ago. Personally, I think it is a bit of a losing game to chase your own free agents around. But certainly, retrospectively, you could think, ‘Could we have given him more early on and had him for two or three more years?’ Maybe the best time (for a Machado contract extension) would have been right after his second knee surgery, when maybe he was feeling a little unsure of his own future.

“But once a player gets close to free agency like Manny has - he has established himself as the elite of the elite - you have to test free agency. You have to see what’s out there. Once you do that and other teams start bidding against each other, sometimes the price just becomes untenable.

“He was our guy. You couldn’t have gotten a better six years out of anybody. He was an Oriole great. I mean, the youngest Oriole great in the history of the franchise. So we’ve gotten quite a bit out of him in the years he’s been here.”

For now, Machado still is their guy, and we now know he will start at shortstop, not third base, next season. I have felt for years that Machado would wind up at short. He played an excellent defensive shortstop in the minors and he’ll handle 200 or so more chances a year there than he would at third. Tim Beckham is going to wind up at third base, unless the Orioles make a change during or after spring training.

So if it’s now too late or has become too expensive in the team’s belief to re-sign Machado, what about Jonathan Schoop, who can be a free agent after the 2019 season?

“I wouldn’t rule anything out,” Anderson said. “We have a highly competitive owner. So no, I wouldn’t rule anything out.”

Showalter, of course, was asked about Machado and Schoop missing FanFest. He seemed to be okay with Machado’s reason, which has not been made public, but didn’t feel the same about Schoop.

“I’ve communicated with both of them,” Showalter said. “Jon’s is tough. He goes through four or five (phones) in an offseason, so getting ahold of him is kind of tough. Usually we go through his mom ... But I talked to his agent and he made me aware of the advice he gave Jon, so we’ll live with it and move on. I’ve gotten a feel for what Manny’s absence is about and I have a pretty good understanding of that. Jon’s, I don’t. The reasons I’m being given, not very good.”

Without knowing more than that, we can only speculate on it, but if Schoop’s agent has some issue with the club’s management and then told his client to skip FanFest, that is a big mistake for me. This is an event for and about fans, not the team’s management or contracts. There were kids there that love Schoop and I know Schoop loves kids. Too bad they didn’t get to see each other on Saturday.

Even more rankings: became the third major outlet to release a top 100 prospects list last night during a live broadcast on MLB Network. The Orioles got two players on that list with outfielder Austin Hays at No. 23 and third baseman Ryan Mountcastle at No. 98. Yesterday, we found out that Mountcastle will start the 2018 season at Double-A Bowie and that he will get a non-roster invite to O’s big league spring training.

Earlier, Hays, the Orioles minor league Player of the Year in 2017, was ranked No. 21 by Baseball America and No. 79 by ESPN. Mountcastle was No. 71 by Baseball America.

Catcher Chance Sisco did not make the top 100. He was No. 53 on the ESPN list and No. 68 by Baseball America.

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