Yuniesky Betancourt was exactly the player for the Royals that the team should have expected him to be. On Sunday, that finally got him bumped from the roster, as he was designated for assignment and replaced by Tony Abreu from Triple-A Omaha.
Betancourt started at third base today and went 0-for-4, leaving him with a .228/.256/.400 line, seven homers and 36 RBI in 215 at-bats for the season. While expectations were that he’d be a utilityman after agreeing to a one-year, $2 million contract over the winter, he started about 60 percent of the games of which he was on the active roster. He missed four weeks in May because of a sprained ankle.
Despite his struggles, he was actually the Royals’ best run producer this year, going strictly by RBI. He drove in a run every 5.97 at-bats, compared to one every 6.06 at-bats for Billy Butler. Jeff Francouer, in comparison, has one RBI every 12.58 at-bats.
Replacing Betancourt is the similarly hacktastic Abreu, who had a 69/14 K/BB ratio in 429 at-bats for Omaha. Some will suggest it means the Royals have given up on Johnny Giavotella after his disappointing 21-game stint earlier this season, but the Royals needed a backup infielder who could play short and Giavotella is pretty strictly a second baseman. The 28-year-old Abreu was hitting .322/.347/.492 in 429 at-bats for Omaha, while the 25-year-old Giavotella was at .332/.419/.498 in 313 at-bats.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.