Chipper Jones is leading the NL Final Vote thing; Bryce Harper third

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Major League Baseball announced the in-progress Final Vote totals a little while ago and the fans are going with history over the future: Chipper Jones leads the thing with David Freese second and Bryce Harper third.

Can’t really blame this on homer ballot box-stuffing given that, as so many of you remind me when I criticize your team, the Braves have no fans. Maybe David Freese’s second place in the thing can be explained by the St. Louis people, though. The self-proclaimed Best Fans in Baseball tend to show for their own.

Harper? I guess people are figuring that he’ll have his time already. Or, possibly, we’re overestimating how deeply the Bryce Harper: superstar thing goes with the common fans. We baseball writers are gaga over him, but people who don’t follow this stuff have seen Chipper Jones’ name for nearly two decades now, and they may be just voting for established star power.

Now, if someone would groove a pitch to Jones so he can hit a Ripken-style homer in the All-Star Game …

In the American League,  Yu Darvish is leading Jake Peavy, Jason Hammel, Ernesto Frieri and Jonathan Broxton.

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.