MLB free agency rumors: Manny Machado may be interested in signing with Yankees

MLB free agency rumors: Manny Machado may be interested in signing with Yankees

Manny Machado may be interested in signing with the Yankees.

The 26-year-old infielder, who was sent from the Orioles to the Dodgers before the trade deadline, will be a free agent after the season. Some close to Machado believe his first choice might be to join New York, according to a report from Fancred Sports.

Machado prefers to play shortstop. But he wouldn’t mind moving to a different position in order to play for the Yankees, the report says.

Machado has registered a .306/.382/.540 slash line in 122 games for the Orioles and Dodgers in 2018. He has also hit 26 home runs and tallied 72 RBIs.

Machado has made four All-Star teams and won two Gold Glove awards in his seven-year MLB career.

Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Believes Matt Kemp, Manny Machado And Max Muncy Are Each Poised For Breakouts At Plate

Dodgers News: Dave Roberts Believes Matt Kemp, Manny Machado And Max Muncy Are Each Poised For Breakouts At Plate

Matt Kemp, Manny MachadoBrett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

When the Los Angeles Dodgers traded for Manny Machado during the All-Star break they acquired one of the game’s top talents who was in the midst of a career year. Machado was joining a Dodgers lineup that was considered among the deepest in baseball.

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However, the offense has failed to meet expectations over the past few weeks. The group’s struggles have been overshadowed by an abysmal bullpen. Machado’s impact has been minimal, and key contributors Matt Kemp and Max Muncy have each fallen into slumps.

There’s been recent improvement from the trio, particularly from Kemp and Machado in Wednesday’s win against the San Francisco Giants.

Machado went 3-for-5 with a double, RBI and walk; and Kemp finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and two walks. “I think the last seven to 10 at-bats that Matt’s taken, really good swings,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said after his club’s walk-off win in extra innings.

“So that’s turning. I think Max is really coming along, Cody. I think all the guys, Manny, up and down our lineup, the worm is turning.”

Cody Bellinger endured a slump similar to what Kemp and Muncy are mired in, but has seemingly turned the corner in August. Through 14 games (11 starts) this month, he’s hitting .409/.490/.568 with one double, two home runs and 10 RBI, all the while adding five stolen bases.

Muncy has yet to see results that match his production from earlier this season, but he has made better contact of late, which suggests success could be on the horizon.

As the Dodgers look to make up ground lost to the Arizona Diamondbacks and Colorado Rockies in the National League West standings, Roberts believes the team will begin rounding into form at the plate.

“You’ll see those quality at-bats, you’ll see them passing the baton, you’ll see the runs coming,” he said. “We’re right there. Going forward, I feel good with where we’re at.”

MLB Rumors: This Team Emerging As Manny Machado's 'First Choice' In Free Agency

MLB Rumors: This Team Emerging As Manny Machado's 'First Choice' In Free Agency

The baseball world was fixated on Manny Machado as this year’s non-waive trade deadline approached, and there’s no doubt the star shortstop will be garnering heaps of attention once again this winter.

Machado is set to hit the open market at the conclusion of the 2018 season, and he’s poised to be one of the most sought-after free agents along with Bryce Harper. While it’s probably too early to pinpoint a favorite in Machado sweepstakes 2.0, one team might already have a leg up.

According to Fancred Sports’ Jon Heyman, the New York Yankees very well could be Machado’s preferred destination in the offseason.

“…People close to Machado suggest the Yankees might just be his first choice,” Heyman writes. “One Machado friend went so far as to say that Machado — who has professed his love for shortstop — would easily give up shortstop to play for the Yankees.”

Heyman continues: “Machado isn’t going to give away his preferences now, particularly while playing for a different marquee franchise, but multiple people say Machado and his family — who live in Miami — are all in on their love of the Yankees and New York, which fits his big-city preference and desire to get back to the East Coast. He’s said to be OK with Los Angeles, but according to others anyway, apparently views it as a stopover.”

The Yankees certainly have the money to afford Machado, and the addition of the four-time All-Star could vault New York to the top of the American League. The Bronx Bombers will face stiff competition in trying to acquire Machado, though, so we’ll have to wait and see just how badly the two parties want to join forces.

Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports

MLB Trades 2018: Examining Most Intriguing Deals Heading into Deadline

MLB Trades 2018: Examining Most Intriguing Deals Heading into Deadline

The big bat of Manny Machado is a huge addition for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The big bat of Manny Machado is a huge addition for the Los Angeles Dodgers.John Bazemore/Associated Press

The Los Angeles Dodgers are hoping that recent MLB history repeats itself.

The Dodgers pulled off the biggest move of the trade season when they acquired superstar shortstop Manny Machado from the Baltimore Orioles one day after the All-Star Game.

The Dodgers gave up a package of five minor-league prospects to get Machado. Those players include Rylan Bannon, Yusniel Díaz, Dean Kremer, Zach Pop and Breyvic Valera.

A year ago, the Houston Astros acquired right-handed starter Justin Verlander prior to the trade deadline, and his arrival in the Astros lockerroom helped that team capture the 2017 World Series. The Cubs traded for closer Aroldis Chapman a year earlier, and they were able to win the World Series over the Cleveland Indians in 2016.

Machado, who is scheduled to become a free agent at the conclusion of this season, has said that he wants to play shortstop throughout the rest of his career. He moved from third base to shortstop this year, but he has been forced to play third base for the Dodgers due to Justin Turner’s groin injury at that position. Turner is on the 10-day disabled list

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times that Machado was quite willing to return to third base to help the team while Turner is out with a groin injury.

Machado has a .312/.385/.564 slash line with 25 home runs and 67 RBI this season, and one of those home runs have come in a Dodger uniform.

The Orioles have not stopped since trading Machado, either. They followed with another key trade when they sent closer Zach Britton to the New York Yankees for pitching prospects Dillon Tate, Cody Carroll and Josh Rogers to Orioles. Tate and Carroll are right-handed pitchers, while Rogers is a southpaw.

The move seemed curious on the surface, because the Yankees had perhaps the game’s most powerful bullpens with Chapman, Dellin Betances, David Robertson and Chad Green. However, Chapman has struggled quite a bit in the last month. He has a 7.20 earned-run average in his last seven appearances, and knee issues may keep him from being at his best.

The addition of Britton could pay huge dividends for the Yankees if Chapman does not regain his best form.

Teams still have three more days to complete trades before Tuesday’s trade deadline, and big names could continue to be on the move.

Adam Jones could be the next Oriole on the move prior to the trade deadline.

Adam Jones could be the next Oriole on the move prior to the trade deadline.Gail Burton/Associated Press

The Orioles may continue their housecleaning by moving five-time All-Star outfielder Adam Jones. Jon Morosi, the MLB Network’s insider, tweeted that the Cleveland Indians and the Philadelphia Phillies both have interest in Jones.

Cleveland is in excellent shape to win the AL Central title, but the Indians know the biggest battles will come in the postseason against potential opponents like the Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox and Yankees. Adding a potential big bat like Jones could pay huge dividends for the Indians, a team that lost the seventh game of the World Series in extra innings to the Cubs two years ago.

The Phillies have a narrow 2.5-game edge over the Atlanta Braves in the NL East, but that’s clearly a battle that could go down to the final days of the regular season. The presence of Jones in the lineup could give the Phillies the edge in that race.

Jones has a .281/.307/.430 slash line with 11 home runs and 42 runs batted in going into Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.

Minnesota right-handed pitcher Kyle Gibson is not a superstar, but he has become a dependable pitcher in 2018 for the Twins with a 3.42 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 129.0 innings. He shut down the hard-hitting Red Sox at Fenway Park Thursday night by allowing just one run in an eight-inning effort, and he looks like he could be an excellent add for any contending team.

Predictably, the Twins are getting quite a bit of interest in the pitcher, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox and The Athletic. However, if the Twins are going to move Gibson, they would need to get a very impressive package in return since he is not eligible to become a free agent until 2020.

 

Orioles' Jonathan Schoop surging since trade of double-play partner Manny Machado

Orioles' Jonathan Schoop surging since trade of double-play partner Manny Machado

When Jonathan Schoop saw that his fifth-inning homer in Friday’s 15-5 win over the Tampa Bay Rays was the longest hit by an Orioles player this season — it was estimated at 446 feet — he chuckled as he went to his phone, saying he was going to text Manny Machado to tell him he hit one longer than he has this season.

When Schoop was trying to find answers for his first-half struggles at the plate, Machado would remind him of the frustrating first half he endured last season, and how he salvaged his season after the All-Star break.

Machado is no longer with the Orioles to offer that encouragement on a daily basis, even though the two have still spoken regularly since Machado was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers on July 18. But since then, Schoop has come into his own, showing flashes of regaining the form that made him one of the game’s top run producers in 2017.

Schoop is hitting .394 (13-for-33) since Machado’s departure. His homer in the Orioles’ win Friday gave him long balls in five consecutive games, one shy of the Orioles team record set by Reggie Jackson (1976) and Chris Davis (2012). He’s homered in six of his seven games since his double-play partner left.

“I guess he doesn’t miss me that much,” Machado said laughing earlier this week before a game in Philadelphia after Schoop hit his third homer in four games.

After a three-hit night Friday, Schoop is hitting .378 in 21 games since receiving a brief reset after his average had dipped to .197. He’s hit eight homers and driven in 16 runs over that stretch, but also hasn’t drawn a walk in 90 at-bats during that time.

“I think it’s just when I get a pitch to put a good swing on it and make it go forward,” Schoop said after Friday’s game. “I’ve had some good at-bats, even three weeks ago, not two months ago, I was getting pitches to hit but I wasn’t doing damage with them. I was fouling it back, I was getting jammed, I was missing them. Right now, I’m putting good contact on them.”

Schoop’s surge is coming while his name is being mentioned more in trade discussions as the nonwaiver deadline approaches Tuesday. While the Orioles are focused on trading pending free agents Adam Jones and Brad Brach, they have been willing to discuss controllable players such as Schoop, who doesn’t become a free agent until after next season.

“No, I just come in here and try to help my team and try to block all these things out,” Schoop said. “I can’t do anything about it. Even if I know, what can I do? I can do nothing, so the only thing I can do is go out there and play the game the way I know how to play.”

He’s rebounding much like Machado did last season. Machado hit .290 in the second half after posting a .230 average in the first half in 2017, and improved his OPS from .741 to .826.

When the Orioles traded Machado, he sent an Instagram post thanking the fans, his teammates and coaches, and finished it by writing, “Scoopy, carry the torch.”

“Why didn’t he tell him in April?” Orioles manager Buck Showalter deadpanned after Friday’s game. “Jon’s capable of that type of production.”

While Machado is no longer Schoop’s teammate, he said earlier this week he’s still going to encourage Schoop from afar.

“I’m still going get on his ass,” Machado said. “I want him to do well. I know he struggled the first half. I was in that same boat last year, so I’m going try to keep him on that same path of doing what he needs to do. … I want him to do well. I see he’s starting to do well and I know he’s going to continue to do that. He’s got the right people around him as well. So he just needs to continue to keep doing what he’s doing and stay on that same plan.”

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Now in playoff race with Dodgers, Manny Machado says goodbye to Orioles and looks ahead

Now in playoff race with Dodgers, Manny Machado says goodbye to Orioles and looks ahead

In his last eight months as an Oriole — dating to December’s winter meetings when a trade first became a possibility — Manny Machado did everything he could to rise above the noise. But it was in a moment of silence the night of July 18 when he finally broke down, realizing he was no longer an Oriole when, packing up his locker inside an empty clubhouse at Camden Yards, he took off his nameplate.

“I took off my nametag and just lost it,” Machado said this past week as a visitor at Citizens Bank Park. “I had been there for eight years and it’s just been … it was the first time I broke down. I had to get out of there because it was going to get really ugly.”

Machado, 26, is a Los Angeles Dodger now. He went from an Orioles team that was the worst in baseball to being thrust into a playoff race. He’s playing meaningful games in front of packed crowds. His new teammates have been welcoming. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, realizing the pressure Machado might feel to perform, pulled him aside on his first day and told him to be himself. Machado had the benefit of getting adjusted to his new surroundings with a 10-game road trip before playing his first game at Dodger Stadium.

These are all things that have helped make Machado’s transition as seamless as possible. The performance has been there. Machado entered Friday with hits in six of his first seven games, and homered for the first time as a Dodger on Thursday in Atlanta. Because of a recent injury to former Oriole Justin Turner, this season’s return to shortstop now includes a detour back to third base, where Machado played his first six major league seasons. But it’s a move Machado has embraced.

“I’m finally able to just relax and settle in knowing that everything is at peace,” Machado said. “I’m going to be here for a while now and I can just relax now. Everything’s done. I’m not going anywhere. I don’t have to worry about everything. I can just go out and play baseball. At the end of the day, this last week has been crazy with a lot going on and people wanting to talk and meeting new faces. Everything’s been new, but it’s just part of the experience that I’m going to try to enjoy it and keep riding it, just look back at all the great things that have happened to me.”

Machado will play his first home game at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. Roberts expects it to be memorable.

“I think it’s going to be an excited, warm, energetic reception,” Roberts said. “There’s obviously been a lot of speculation, so for it finally to play itself out, he’s excited. But the fans, there’s going to be a lot of people. There’s going to be over 40,000 on a Monday night.”

But before that Hollywood story gets written, all the goodbyes that led into this past week — turning the page on his Orioles career through FaceTime and text messages, phone calls and Instagram posts — that wasn’t easy.

“It was terrible,” Machado said. “It wasn’t fun.”

On Tuesday, before playing his fifth game as a Dodger — an energizing 16-inning game between two contending teams at Philadelphia’s Citizens Bank Park — Machado toed the line between expressing the sadness of leaving the only organization he’s known and looking forward to what he’s been brought in to do: help a team that was one victory away from a World Series title be one win better this postseason.

“It all happened quickly,” Machado said. “I think everyone was waiting for it to happen, but when it happens, it just hits you a lot harder. … A lot of anticipation and stuff, the talks keep going and this and that. It finally happens and it didn’t feel true. I didn’t feel like it was actually happening.

“It’s been a lot this week. But the team here has been with open arms, really welcoming. It’s been pretty nice to come here and be welcomed with open arms. It kind of reminds me of the old times in Baltimore when we were winning, when we had that winning mentality of trying to win a ring. It’s been different, but great at the same time.”

Roberts’ message to Machado was clear. It was important for Machado to not feel like he had to carry his new club.

“We just wanted him to be himself and whatever he does to help us win baseball games, he doesn’t need to do more,” Roberts said. “We’re better with him. He understands the talent level and can see it. He’s said it many times, that when he’s on the baseball field, that’s his haven and that’s what I’ve seen at this point.”

When Machado left the clubhouse after getting pulled from the last game before the All-Star break, he was told a deal was in place but not where he was going. That was the last time he would see his Orioles teammates, and many also knew it was likely goodbye. The trade became official July 18. Machado’s first call was to Jonathan Schoop.

“This is happening,” Machado told Schoop. “I’m out of here.”

Schoop, who was spending the break three hours away from Baltimore, drove back the next morning to say goodbye in person.

“It’s hard,” Machado said. “Those guys are practically my family. They’ve been a big part of everything I’ve been through. It left a big hole in my heart. It was wasn’t fun watching Jonathan storm out of my house knowing that we weren’t going to see each other for the rest of the year on a baseball field. We go back [almost] 10 years. It’s not an easy breakup. It’s not a breakup, but it’s not easy. It wasn’t easy.”

Machado said he wished he was able to say goodbye to others — including the fans — in person.

“They’ve given me a lot of my career,” Machado said. “They’ve always been there. … They know that my heart will always be there, with everybody in that clubhouse, from the front office, the Angelos [family], to [manager] Buck [Showalter], [third base coach] Bobby [Dickerson], [hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh], all my teammates. These are all guys who have been very influential in my career.

“Those are things that will never be forgotten. At the end of the day, it’s always a business. It just wasn’t easy to say goodbye in a proper way. They know. I don’t think they wanted me there either [to say goodbye]. There’d be a lot of tears. They would have to get buckets. But I still talk to those guys. I still talked to a couple of them today. Those are relationships that go a lot further than just being on a team or being in a clubhouse with someone.”

Despite all the good memories — and in part probably because he’s been thrown suddenly into a winning atmosphere — Machado still expressed some frustrations about how this season played out. Since he joined the big league club in August 2012, the Orioles were competitive until this season. While the Orioles went to the postseason three times in his first five years, they fell short of the ultimate goal.

Machado said he didn’t want to blame this season’s free fall on the uncertainty that encapsulated this season, with him being one of four key pending free agents as well as Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette in the final year of their contracts.

“I think there were better reasonings than for that, than to blame it on trade rumors and stuff like that,” Machado said. “Everybody, come on, everybody is going to get traded at some point. Everyone, me, Zach [Britton], Adam [Jones], we knew we going to get traded at some point. For us to win, it was going to be tough. Everything was going to have to be perfect. And nothing’s perfect in this world. It’s just hard. It’s just hard. You can’t just blame is on that.”

So, where did this season go wrong for the Orioles? Machado shrugged at first, but then said he saw the struggles coming.

“I think it was just bad luck,” Machado said. “It started with injuries, [Alex] Cobb signing late. We didn’t get into the right form. Injuries blew us apart. It wasn’t the same guys who were supposed to be out there grinding who were on the field. It’s just baseball. It was just one of those years. You can’t just blame one thing. It was this or it was that.

“It was overall a lot of things. It was bad luck. It continues to be bad luck with a lot of things going on. There’s a lot of moving parts. The front office says something, the other people are saying other things. It’s just a bumping head not being on the same page. When that’s happening, it’s just waiting for something [bad to happen]. It’s not just this year — it’s been for years now, some of the people haven’t been on the same page. It was just a matter of time that things weren’t going to be as lucky as they were in the past.”

Machado experienced more ups than downs in Baltimore, from the time the Orioles made him the third overall pick in the 2010 draft to his final All-Star appearance this season.

“It’s been my second home for a long time,” he said. “Saying goodbye wasn’t easy. It’s not easy.”

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