Red Sox set to sign Shaq Thompson

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There are quite a few 18-year-old Shaqs running around these days, courtesy of O’Neal’s exploding popularity in the early-90s. The Red Sox are reportedly set to land one of the fastest,  18th-round pick Shaq Thompson.

Thompson was rated the state of California’s top football recruit and the nation’s No. 1 safety by Rivals.com. He initially committed to Cal, but the Bears frowned on his desire to play baseball and he ended up picking the University of Washington instead. That’s still the plan; he’ll play baseball in the summer and go to school the rest of the year.

In the end, Thompson will probably end up a football player. He’s a very raw baseball talent, and he has all of the tools to become a first-round pick in the NFL three years down the line. The Red Sox, though, probably aren’t gambling more than $100,000 on him here, and since he does have a legitimate desire to play baseball, that seems like a bargain, given his raw strength and his ability to fly in center field.

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.