Henry Blanco opts out of $1.15 million deal with Arizona

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Henry Blanco has followed Willie Bloomquist’s footsteps by declining his half of a $1.15 million option after the Diamondbacks exercised their half earlier this week.

That means Blanco is a free agent and the 40-year-old veteran will be looking for another backup catcher gig in what will be his 15th season.

Blanco is coming off a career-year at the plate, albeit in very limited playing time as Miguel Montero’s understudy, hitting .250 with eight homers and a career-high .870 OPS in 37 games.

He posted a modest .669 OPS during the previous three seasons, so that offensive outburst was a pretty clear fluke, but Blanco remains remarkably good at shutting down running games with his arm and would fit well on plenty of teams as a part-timer.

Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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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.