Following last night’s win over the Astros, Red Sox manager Terry Francona told the Boston Herald that he is leaning towards playing David Ortiz at first base tonight, which means Adrian Gonzalez will make another start in right field.
“If he plays (tonight), we’re looking at 13, 14, 15 (plate appearances), and we’re in good shape,” Francona said. “I feel good about David getting through this trip.”
Ortiz is 0-for-8 on the team’s current interleague road trip. He is hitless over his last 16 at-bats dating back to June 20.
Gonzalez played right field for the second time in his major league career Wednesday night against the Phillies. It was his first time playing the position since 2005 as a member of the Rangers. Gonzalez did jump to attempt to catch a fly ball hit by Chase Utley in the bottom of the eighth, but he didn’t make any putouts. It was largely uneventful and the Red Sox will hope for something similar tonight.
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.