Could the White Sox now be the favorites to land Manny Machado? Despite whispers of a mystery team being involved in Machado’s market, the Sox, Yankees, and Phillies were known to be the three clubs most heavily pursuing the free agent infielder. However, with the Yankees addressing their infield needs elsewhere and the Phillies perhaps now in the driver’s seat to sign Bryce Harper, it leaves the White Sox as potentially the last team standing for Machado. While things seem to be leaning in the Pale Hose’s direction right now, an industry source tells Daryl Van Schouwen of the Chicago Sun-Times that “everything is still on the table” in regards to where Machado or Harper could sign. “These guys are still so young (both 26), so if things aren’t what they want they could gamble and take a much shorter deal and try [free agency] again in the near future,” the source speculated.
More from both the AL and NL Central divisions…
- The Cardinals have yet to hold any extension talks with Paul Goldschmidt, Marcell Ozuna, or Michael Wacha, GM Michael Girsch told Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and other media. All three players are scheduled for free agency next winter, and while negotiations could yet take place later in the offseason, Girsch said “We’ll see how this year goes” in regards to the trio. Since Goldschmidt has yet to play a game in a Cards uniform, it would be very surprising to see him ink an extension before getting a chance to test the open market. As for Ozuna and Wacha, it makes sense for the Cardinals to see how either player bounces back from an injury-marred 2018 before making a long-term commitment. Ozuna was solid but unspectacular last season, hitting .280/.325/.433 with 23 homers over 628 plate appearances while dealing with nagging shoulder issues. Wacha, meanwhile, didn’t pitch after June 20 due to an oblique injury.
- If the Reds could only spend their money on either Dallas Keuchel or A.J. Pollock, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon feels the team would choose Keuchel, given the greater need for rotation help. Both players have been linked to the Reds in hot stove rumors this winter, and while Cincinnati has made some notable additions (i.e. Alex Wood and Tanner Roark) to its starting five, it still lacks a top-of-the-rotation arm. Without Pollock or another true center fielder, the Reds could at least make do at the position in the short term, using some combination of Scott Schebler, Yasiel Puig, and Nick Senzel between the corners. In another question in Sheldon’s mailbag piece, he doesn’t feel Jesse Winker will be an option in center field due to Winker’s lack of range.
- Indians outfielder Bradley Zimmer is hoping to beat his recovery timetable as he rehabs from shoulder surgery, telling MLB.com’s Mandy Bell and other reporters that “I feel like I’ll be ready for Spring Training.” Zimmer was slated for an eight-to-twelve month absence from baseball activities after undergoing labrum surgery last July, so he feels he is making good progress, while acknowledging that “the timetable is not really in my hands, as far as my progression.” Still, it seems to be a good sign that the former top prospect is looking to hit the field sooner rather than later, especially since the Tribe is sore need of outfield help. Zimmer has just a .237/.300/.370 slash line over 446 PA in the big leagues, though he has already displayed some quality baserunning and slick glovework in his brief time at the MLB level.