LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Baltimore Orioles star Manny Machado could be on the move.
To a new position – or a new team.
Big names emerged in trade talk Tuesday, with Machado, New York Mets pitcher Matt Harvey and Detroit pitcher Michael Fulmer heating up the winter meetings.
And no surprise, the busy New York Yankees are looming, looking to boost a ballclub getting more formidable by the day.
For the moment, no deals for that trio of All-Stars.
“Everything else is – today – moot,” Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said of a Harvey deal.
Pitching is always at a premium, and the Chicago Cubs completed two-year contracts for reliever Brandon Morrow and pitcher Drew Smyly, expected to miss next season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.
The Yankees made another trade, too. Nothing close to magnitude of getting NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton from Miami, but nonetheless a deal that could help them very soon. New York sent third baseman Chase Headley, pitcher Bryan Mitchell and $500,000 to San Diego for outfielder Jabari Blash.
“The biggest motivation from our end is it creates a lot more financial flexibility,” Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said after dumping a $13 million salary.
That could lead to another starter for the Yankees’ rotation, such as Fulmer. The 2016 AL Rookie of the Year was an All-Star last season, going 10-12 with a 3.83 ERA for the Tigers.
A more intriguing possibility, for any club, is Machado.
At 25, he’s already a three-time All-Star and two-time Gold Glover at third base. Plus, he’s a power bat, hitting 33 home runs with 95 RBIs last season.
Machado had an $11.5 million salary last season, is eligible for arbitration and can become a free agent after next year’s World Series. That’s prompted questions about whether the last-place Orioles can afford him, or if he’d even want to stick around Camden Yards.
Or if they’d be better off trading him to guarantee something in return.
In the meantime, Machado is indicating he’d like to shift over to shortstop. The spot is open, now that J.J. Hardy has become a free agent.
Machado made his big league debut as a third baseman in 2012 with the Orioles and has made 49 starts at shortstop, most of them in 2016 when Hardy was hurt.
Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said Machado has long expressed in interest in playing shortstop.
“Always has, since the day he signed,” he said. “To say that Manny and I haven’t had conversations about it over the years, I wouldn’t be truthful.”
“Obviously, we’re not there yet, but it’s something that Manny – I found that players need to know about that, not February 15th or March 15th. They need to know about it back then – Manny’s capable of playing both real well,” Showalter said.
Then again, Machado could be playing either spot for some other team. The Yankees would love to slot him in, but no telling whether the Orioles would trade him to an AL East rival.
Baltimore owner Peter Angelos didn’t get along great with former Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, their animosity ratcheted up after the teams got into a vicious brawl in 1998.
“I’ve got a real gut feeling about how it’s going to work out, but I want to make sure we cover all the bases before whatever direction we go in,” Showalter said.
Harvey has come up in Mets’ trade talks. Coming off another injury decimated year, this time caused by a stress injury to the scapula bone in his right shoulder, he can become a free agent after next season.
New manager Mickey Callaway and pitching coach Dave Eiland take over a team that is built on starting pitching, provided a rotation that includes Noah Syndergaard, Jacob deGrom, Steven Matz and Harvey can stay healthy. The 28-year-old Harvey was 5-7 with a 6.70 ERA in another injury-filled season for the former ace.
“The most important thing I’m weighing is the opinion of Mickey Callaway and Dave Eiland, and they don’t want to lose him,” Alderson said.
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