UPDATE: Carlos Beltran is done for the day. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts over five innings. According to Andy Martino of the New York Daily News, he had two chances in right field and “never had to run full throttle.”
The results really don’t matter, but we’ll just have to hear how the knee feels.
For what it’s worth, Beltran told Adam Rubin of ESPN New York following the game that the plan is for him to play five innings in a minor league game Sunday, then take Monday off and play seven innings in a Grapefruit League game Tuesday.
8:47 AM: Part of his last-ditch effort to get ready for Opening Day, Carlos Beltran is set to play five innings in a minor league game this afternoon.
The big news here is that Beltran will play right field for the first time in a competitive game this spring. He’s had little time to adjust to his new position due to a recent bout of tendinitis in his left knee.
Beltran played in a simulated game Thursday and in a minor league intersquad game yesterday, but Mets manager Terry Collins told Andy McCullough of the Newark Star-Ledger that they still need to be cautious.
“Even though he’s feeling great,” Collins said, “it’s a big step forward for us to get him out there, to get him playing. We’re going to watch it.”
Barring any setbacks, the hope is that Beltran can play the final three games of the Grapefruit League schedule, beginning Monday. While it’s an aggressive timetable, it’s pretty much the only way he’ll be ready for Opening Day. Many still expect him to begin the season on the disabled list.
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.