The Rangers went to visit Cliff Lee yesterday

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Anthony Andro of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a contingent from the Rangers flew to Arkansas yesterday to meet with Cliff Lee.

But wait! I thought he wasn’t listening! I thought he was in a duck blind somewhere, thinking about anything other than baseball. But I guess this is just arms race stuff, what with the Yankees having already sent Brian Cashman down.  “Ha! You sent your GM?  We sent a GM and two owners too!”

According to Andro the meeting lasted approximately two hours.  I’m going to assume unless told otherwise that the entirety of the conversation was about how awful New York and their fans are.

And just wait: tomorrow we’ll hear reports from Lee’s friends talking about how it was odd that Brian Cashman wouldn’t accept Kristen Lee’s offer of sweet tea, and how Chuck Greenberg sat in “the good chair.”  We, of course, will follow up with instant hot stove analysis of these critical developments.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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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.