Via Pete Abraham, we are pointed to a press release about a new product coming to a baseball diamond near you: helmets for pitchers. It actually appears to be more of a shield that fits over a cap, but I can’t tell. Head protection is head protection, I suppose.
The press release makes mention of a high school player, Gunnar Sandberg, who was seriously injured by a comebacker to the head. And as these things usually go, I suspect that we’ll see more of this in the amateur ranks before it works its way up to the majors.
And once it gets to the majors: like with most safety measures, I presume this will follow through the normal progression: mockery-outrage-denial-grudging acceptance-acceptance. All that will ultimately matter is if pitchers’ mechanics are the same with it and without it. If so, players will be wearing them soon enough.
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.