MLB Winter Meetings notebook: Suitors line up for Machado

A day after the New York Yankees added Giancarlo Stanton, the Baltimore Orioles have begun to consider the previously unthinkable — trading superstar third baseman Manny Machado.

Multiple reports from the Winter Meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on Tuesday suggest the Orioles have fielded offers for Machado, three-time All-Star, who becomes a free agent after the 2018 season.
In a less shocking development, the O’s have reportedly received a “ton” of interest in Machado, an elite defender with massive power. Machado, 25, has hit 105 homers the past three years and is a two-time Gold Glove winner.

Though Baltimore held onto closer Zach Britton last season and resisted a rebuild, indications are the franchise has considered a new direction. Still, Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn’t tip his hand during a news conference Tuesday.

“I think a lot of that gets way overblown,” Showalter said. “I also know the reality. I’ve got a feel for what’s actually going on. I’m not in on every conversation, thank goodness.

“You want to be consistent with the message your fans and to the people that live and die with everything the Orioles do. I’m hoping we can continue to do that because it’s something that we’ve been proud of here for the last five, six, seven years. So, we’ll see where this all leads. But you do want to have a definitive plan.”

The Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and Boston Red Sox are among the teams reported to have great interest in Machado.

Showalter did confirm Machado has requested to play shortstop now that J.J. Hardy is no longer on the Orioles’ roster. The veteran manager thinks Machado could handle the role along with Tim Beckham, who had an .871 OPS in 50 games after a midseason trade from Tampa Bay.

Trading Machado could provide the Orioles with young talent the farm system sorely lacks. It also could open the floodgates as Britton, center fielder Adam Jones and reliever Brad Brach all have only one year left before free agency. It would mark a complete turnaround for Baltimore, which has reached the postseason three times in six seasons despite not having the same kind of money others in the AL East spend on payroll

“I don’t know how things are going to work out for any of our guys,” Showalter said. “(Machado is) not the only one in the last year of a contract.”

— Still in search of pitching help, the New York Yankees freed capital by trading third baseman Chase Headley and pitcher Bryan Mitchell to the San Diego Padres for outfielder Jabari Blash on Tuesday. Headley, who played for the Padres from 2007-14, earns $13 million in 2018. The Yankees are reportedly $30 million under the $197 million luxury-tax threshold, according to The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. The Padres also traded infielder Ryan Schimpf to Tampa Bay for a minor leaguer.

— The Cincinnati Reds have received strong interest in center fielder Billy Hamilton, according to multiple reports. The San Francisco Giants reportedly are one of the more interested parties in Hamilton, who has stolen at least 56 bases in each of the past four seasons.

— The Miami Marlins are reportedly moving on to the next phase of their teardown, entertaining offers for Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich. After losing out in the Stanton sweepstakes, the St. Louis Cardinals are reportedly very interested in Ozuna, who produced a .924 OPS with 37 homers and 124 RBIs last season. Miami officially shed the bulk of the $295 million left on Stanton’s contract on Monday and previously saved $38 million by trading Dee Gordon to Seattle last week.

— Multiple teams have shown interest in free agent hitter Carlos Santana, including the Cleveland Indians. The Indians reportedly initially offered Santana a three-year, $36-million deal. Santana, who turns 32 in April, finished with 23 homers and an .818 OPS in 154 games last season.

— Chicago Cubs manager Joe Maddon suggested Kyle Schwarber as an option to hit leadoff next season. Maddon cited Schwarber’s improved conditioning and ability to get on base as reasons he could take over the role. Schwarber struggled in 2017, but has a career 12.1-percent walk-rate.

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