In late May the Royals stripped Joakim Soria of closing duties after back-to-back blown saves, but he reclaimed the job a week later and has been his usual unhittable self since, throwing 12 scoreless innings with a 12/2 K/BB ratio and .098 opponents’ batting average.
Soria’s season totals are still below his lofty standards, but his ERA went from 6.55 to 4.24 during that 12-inning stretch and he’s also rediscovered his missing velocity. Soria’s average fastball has clocked in at 91.8 miles per hour this month, which is right in line with his 2009/2010 speeds and a sizable improvement over his 90.3 mph in April and May.
Soria gave the Royals a scare, but it looks like he’s back to being one of the elite relievers in baseball. Now the question is whether the last-place Royals will shop him at the trade deadline or keep him around to close out games as the farm system’s incredible collection of young talent flows to Kansas City during the next couple years.
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.