AL All-Star balloting update: Jose Bautista joins the leaders

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The latest American League ballot totals are in and the red-hot Jose Bautista has moved into third place in the outfielder voting, with Nelson Cruz dropping out of the lineup to fifth place.

Bautista had the AL’s highest vote total last year, but his slow start guarantees he won’t duplicate that feat this year. Instead, it looks like Josh Hamilton will take the title.

CATCHER
Mike Napoli, Rangers: 2,239,047
Joe Mauer, Twins: 1,283,804
Matt Wieters, Orioles: 1,242,247

FIRST BASE
Prince Fielder, Tigers: 1,946,045
Paul Konerko, White Sox: 1,680,793
Mark Teixeira, Yankees: 1,405,187

SECOND BASE
Ian Kinsler, Rangers: 2,580,306
Robinson Cano, Yankees: 2,565,046
Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox: 1,331,657

THIRD BASE
Adrian Beltre, Rangers: 2,251,304
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers: 1,869,727
Evan Longoria, Rays: 1,442,308

SHORTSTOP
Derek Jeter, Yankees: 3,359,875
Elvis Andrus, Rangers: 2,008,678
J.J. Hardy, Orioles: 968,963

OUTFIELD
Josh Hamilton, Rangers: 5,414,880
Curtis Granderson, Yankees: 2,818,535
Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: 1,996,940
Adam Jones, Orioles: 1,959,207
Nelson Cruz, Rangers: 1,944,487
David Murphy, Rangers: 1,229,190
Nick Swisher, Yankees: 1,177,500
Jeff Francoeur, Royals: 823,568
Brett Gardner, Yankees: 818,164

DESIGNATED HITTER
David Ortiz, Red Sox: 2,390,132
Michael Young, Rangers: 1,892,150
Raul Ibanez, Yankees: 1,080,421

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.