There’s no official decision yet regarding where Manny Machado will play in 2018, but one could come as soon as this weekend. Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com provides some insight into Orioles manager Buck Showalter’s thought process in determining the young star’s position. Showalter has spoken with both Machado and Tim Beckham in regards to Baltimore’s infield alignment, and though nothing is definite yet, Kubatko seems to have confidence that the O’s will grant Machado’s wishes to move him to shortstop this coming season, which would in turn push Beckham to third base or into a super utility role. Showalter also offers some very honest evaluations of Mike Moustakas as well as the price points of some of the high-end free agent pitchers on the market. In addition, he delves into Baltimore’s catcher situation.
A few other notes out of the AL East…
- Josh Donaldson told reporters today that, to his knowledge, his agent has not been engaged with the Blue Jays regarding a potential contract extension (hat tip to Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com). This doesn’t necessarily eliminate the possibility that extension talks have taken place, but it certainly casts doubt on it. Donaldson has been the third most valuable player in baseball by fWAR (21.4) since he was traded to Toronto prior to the 2015 season, Though he started off slowly last season, he still managed an excellent .270/.385/.559 batting line for the campaign while hitting 33 homers. He’d be one of the marquee free agents of an impressive 2018, though the fact that he’ll be nearly 33 by the beginning of November will detract from his value in comparison with players like Bryce Harper and Machado.
- Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times points out that the Rays are in a position to enter 2018 with both a higher payroll than last season and less talent on the roster overall. Of course, there’s still plenty of time for the team to make more moves. Topkin cites the lack of activity industry wide as a factor that has “paralyzed” the organization, but believes that once the “dam finally breaks,” they’ll have a lot of things to address. He quotes GM Erik Neander, who describes the team’s to do list as similar to what it was at the outset of the offseason. Topkin mentions a number of candidates who could possibly be traded in order to cut payroll for the team, including closer Alex Colome and the recently-acquired Denard Span. From my own standpoint, it’s not unfair to wonder whether Tampa Bay has any chance to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox as things stand now, let alone if the team continues to make cuts to a payroll that’s one of the lowest in baseball. That can only increase the trade speculation surrounding Chris Archer, Colome, and others on the roster.