The Phillies would love to be able to retain Jayson Werth, but the free agent outfielder is represented by Scott Boras and his asking price at this point in the offseason is thought to be sky high. If Werth signs elsewhere, which seems likely, the Phils are probably going to hand right field duties to 23-year-old Domonic Brown at the opening of the 2011 season.
Brown hit the cover off the ball down on the farm in 2010 to the tune of a .318/.391/.602 batting line in 65 games at Double-A and a .346/.390/.561 batting line in 28 games at Triple-A. He has serious power potential along with good speed on the basepaths and he should be a reliable defender.
There’s little doubt that Brown is going to develop into a productive big league ballplayer, but how long will that development take?
According to Todd Zolecki of MLB.com, Brown left his Dominican Winter League team this weekend after hitting just .069 in nine games. This is the same guy that hit .210/.257/.355 in 70 plate appearances at the major league level in 2010.
Dabbling in small sample sizes is always problematic, but it’s quite common for young players to hit well in the minors and then fail to produce on the big stage (see: Andy LaRoche, Alex Gordon). If things don’t go well for Brown in spring training next year, perhaps the Phillies will look at other options to replace Werth. Or maybe they already feel a need to lock up insurance on the free agent market.
One thing’s certain: Brown needs to do some damage down in Clearwater, Florida next March.
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.