I didn’t even know that the umps’ labor deal was close to expiring. But apparently it is, and apparently they’re about to ink a new one without any NBA-style strife.
The only changes of note: the league wants more flexibility to assign umpires to the playoffs and World Series, moving away from the seniority/carousel system they have in place. This is a good thing because (a) the baseball playoffs are not like preschool and not everyone needs to get a turn; and (b) given how bad the umpiring was in the playoffs this year, the more good umps in, the better. No word on whether or not they’ll actually make the league determine whether the “good” umps they assign will actually be good or, instead, will be guys like Joe West.
Oh, and they bargained away the dental plan, so little Lisa will now have to get the ugly braces that predate stainless steel, so she can’t get them wet.
Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.
The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.
Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.
As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.