Dodgers pending free agent Manny Machado has made it known he prefers shortstop, but the former Baltimore third baseman would return to the hot corner “for the right team,” Jon Heyman of Fancred writes. A willingness to play third certainly won’t hurt Machado on the open market, where he’s expected to sign one of the richest contracts ever, as it could encourage more teams to get involved in the bidding. Machado prefers to sign with the Yankees, Heyman relays, which jibes with a previous report from Bob Nightengale of USA Today. The Yankees already have an excellent shortstop in Didi Gregorius and a big-hitting rookie third basemen in Miguel Andujar, but their presences didn’t prevent the team from pursuing Machado at this year’s non-waiver trade deadline. Gregorius is only under contract for another year, moreover, while Machado is a much better defender at third than Andujar. Speculatively, if the Yankees sign Machado and extend Gregorius, perhaps they’d move Andujar to first base (where they haven’t gotten much production this year) or use him as trade bait to acquire pitching.
More rumblings from Heyman…
- The Indians were the most aggressive pursuers of Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper at the non-waiver trade deadline in July, according to Heyman. However, the Indians were unwilling to trade high-end pitching prospect Triston McKenzie for Harper – who’ll be a free agent at season’s end – and general manager Mike Rizzo didn’t want to deal Harper anyhow. Expectations are that the Rizzo-led Nats will do their best to re-sign Harper, Heyman suggests.
- There isn’t much optimism around baseball that the Marlins will be able to extend star catcher J.T. Realmuto, reports Heyman, who writes that he “apparently remains a target” of the NL East rival Braves. Atlanta extended catcher Tyler Flowers earlier this week, but only for a guaranteed $6MM over two years. Realmuto is also controllable for the next two seasons, and given that the Marlins won’t contend during that span, it seems like a strong bet that they’ll trade the 27-year-old if they’re unable to extend him.
- Twins icon and pending free agent Joe Mauer is uninterested in playing elsewhere, per Heyman, who adds that it’s believed Minnesota would welcome the first baseman back in 2019. The question is whether the St. Paul native will choose to play next year, which would be his age-36 season. Mauer’s now in the final weeks of the franchise-record eight-year, $184MM extension he signed as a superstar catcher in 2010. The deal hasn’t quite worked out as hoped, though, thanks in part to injuries and a decline in production. Mauer has posted league-average offensive numbers over 444 PAs this year, with a .278/.350/.379 line (99 wRC+).
- The Brewers finished second to the NL Central rival Cardinals in the race to sign then-free agent Miles Mikolas last winter, Heyman reports. A former Ranger and Padre, Mikolas returned stateside after a couple seasons in Japan, joining the Cardinals on a two-year, $15.5MM guarantee. That contract has been a steal for St. Louis, which has seen the 30-year-old Mikolas turn in 167 innings of 2.96 ERA/3.43 FIP ball this season.