Orioles give former first-rounder Matt Antonelli a big-league deal

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2006 first-round pick Matt Antonelli was a big bust for the Padres, but the Orioles apparently liked what he did with the Nationals’ Triple-A club last season. They signed him to a major league contract on Friday and will give him a chance to compete for a job in spring training.

Antonelli, who turns 27 in April, hit .297/.393/.460 with eight homers and a 59/47 K/BB ratio in 300 at-bats for Triple-A Syracuse.

For Antonelli, it was his first successful campaign since 2007. Baseball America rated him the game’s No. 50 prospect after that season, but he went on to hit .215/.335/.322 and .196/.300/.339 for the Padres’ Triple-A club the following two seasons. After he missed most of 2010 with a fractured hamate bone, he was non-tendered by the Padres and signed with Washington.

Strictly a third baseman and a second baseman beforehand, Antonelli got some time at shortstop and in left field last season, making him a more viable option as a utilityman. The Orioles can’t be certain they can count on Brian Roberts at second base and they’ll probably open up with the inconsistent Chris Davis at third base next year, so there might be an opportunity for Antonelli to gain substantial playing time if he wins a job.

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.