Matt Bush went bust as a hitter, but former No. 1 overall pick still has some pitching potential

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Matt Bush has had numerous off-the-field issues, suffered multiple injuries, spent time in three different organizations in three years, and made the switch from shortstop to pitcher in an effort to avoid being a complete bust … and now the former No. 1 pick is blowing away hitters in the minors.

Well, sort of.

Bush has a 5.36 ERA while pitching at Double-A for the Rays, but as Tommy Rancel of ESPN-1040 in Tampa Bay notes he also has a remarkable 68 strikeouts in 44 innings.

His control is spotty and he’s been far from unhittable despite the huge strikeout rate, but if any other pitcher was missing that many bats at Double-A it would be noteworthy. Bush leads the Southern League with 14.0 strikeouts per nine innings and the only other pitcher in the league with a mark above 12.5 is Braves relief prospect and former second-round pick Billy Bullock.

The Orioles seem pretty serious about moving Manny Machado

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there has been no suggestion that the O’s and their young star have worked on a contract extension, strongly suggesting that Machado will test the open market next offseason.

While the Orioles have not said much about keeping him or trading him, yesterday considerable chatter filtered out here at the Winter Meetings suggests that they are serious about trading him now in order to get more than a draft pick in return when he eventually leaves Baltimore.

Jon Heyman reported yesterday that the Cardinals were a possible landing spot, and others have speculated that, at the moment, they’re the frontrunners for his services. Buster Olney, in a development that would make people go insane, I suspect, that the Yankees have expressed interest. It seems highly unlikely, though, that the Orioles would trade Machado within the division. Even if they did, they’d likely expect a premium from the Yankees that they would be unwilling to pay, especially given that they could easily wait Machado out until he was a free agent next year and give up nothing but cash for him. A couple of days ago we noted that the Phillies had expressed interest and the Orioles were doing their due diligence with respect to their farm system.

As far as the possible parameters of a deal, Ken Rosenthal reported that the O’s hope to acquire at least two controllable young starters in return. That’s a high price for a one-year Machado rental, but it makes sense for the Orioles to ask it. For Machado’s part, he reportedly wants to return to his original position, shortstop. He does not have no-trade protection, of course, so that may be a wish that is not fulfilled.

Machado had a down 2017, hitting .259/.310/.471, but still hit 33 homers and drove in 95 runs. In the two years prior, however, he posted OPSs of .876 and .861, and he’s still just 25. All of which is to say that the price for a team to acquire him will be high, even if he’s entering his walk year.