General manager Terry Ryan revealed during a 1500-ESPN radio interview yesterday that Trevor Plouffe will be an outfielder going forward, which isn’t shocking considering how awful the former first-round pick looked as an infielder for the Twins despite playing 680 games at shortstop in the minors.
He has the tools to be a strong corner outfielder defensively and with Jamey Carroll signed to a two-year, $7 million deal that may be the clearest path to at-bats in 2012, but before the middle of this year Plouffe had never even played the outfield in seven pro seasons.
Moving to the outfield full time also means Plouffe’s bat will be held to a much higher standard and aside from a 50-game stretch at Triple-A this year he’s never really produced like a corner outfielder.
He’s hit .262 with a .767 OPS in 337 games at Triple-A and .226 with a .668 OPS in 103 games in the majors, so unless his two-month breakout in Rochester at age 25 is a sign of things to come Plouffe will have trouble hitting enough to be more than a platoon player.
Fans sitting behind first base at Target Field won’t have to worry about ducking as much, though.
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.