As far as wins and losses go, it didn’t matter if Mark Melancon pitched a perfect inning or got lit up by the Rangers tonight, not with the Red Sox already behind 8-2 in the eighth. However, that he failed to retire any of the six hitters he faced will almost certainly play a role in his immediate future.
Melancon, who closed for the Astros last year and was a candidate to occupy that role for Boston when Andrew Bailey went down, gave up three homers tonight and saw his ERA jump to 49.50.
Melancon has made four appearances this season, but he’s pitched just two innings and he’s already allowed five homers. That’s as many as he gave up in 74 1/3 innings for Houston last season.
With the Red Sox in need of a fresh arm after Jon Lester’s two-inning start tonight, there’s a good chance Melancon will be optioned to Triple-A prior to Wednesday’s game. Clayton Mortensen and Junichi Tazawa would be the favorites to replace him on the roster.
At this point, it’s likely the best thing for the Red Sox and Melancon. The 27-year-old right-hander needs a chance to clear his head, and with Boston at home for four more games and the boos likely to rain down, he’s not going to get that opportunity at Fenway.
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.