Clay Buchholz tossed a two-hitter tonight as part of a 3-2 win over the Indians, but the Red Sox were dealt another tough blow on the injury front in the process.
Will Middlebrooks left the game in the top of the ninth inning after being hit in the right wrist by a pitch. The Red Sox have yet to make an official announcement on his status, but Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe was told by a source that Middlebrooks was diagnosed with a broken wrist. If true, his rookie season will almost certainly be over.
Middlebrooks, 23, is batting .281/.325/.509 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and an .835 OPS in 75 games played this season. His emergence caused the Red Sox to deal Kevin Youkilis to the White Sox for peanuts in late June. Danny Valencia, who was acquired from the Twins last Sunday, is expected to be called up from Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday and figures to get most of the playing time at third base moving forward.
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.