So much for the committee: Gardenhire picks Jon Rauch as closer

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Earlier this week Ron Gardenhire announced that the Twins would use a closer-by-committee approach to replace Joe Nathan initially, but the manager has apparently already changed his mind.
Gardenhire said this afternoon that Jon Rauch will begin the season at closer, which is actually what I was expecting all along until the closer-by-committee curveball. Rauch is certainly not an ideal closer, but neither is anyone else on the Twins’ roster and in the short term at least he’s the most sensible option.
Rauch has some previous experience in the role, has generally been a solid, durable seventh- and eighth-inning option, and allows Matt Guerrier to remain in his familiar setup role. At some point this season perhaps Jose Mijares or Pat Neshek will emerge as ninth-inning options, but for now giving Rauch a shot to be a league-average closer and convert 80-85 percent of his save opportunities makes sense.

Report: The White Sox and Diamondbacks are in on Manny Machado

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Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.

The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.

The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.

The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.