Red Sox make it official, fire Bobby Valentine

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Making official what was reported as a done deal yesterday afternoon, the Red Sox just announced that Bobby Valentine has been fired as manager.

Signed to a two-year, $5 million deal to replace Terry Francona, Valentine spent the year making headlines for all the wrong reasons and seemingly rubbed key players the wrong way almost immediately.

It also didn’t help that the team was terrible on the field, showing Red Sox fans that things could get significantly worse than what was viewed as a pretty miserable situation during Francona’s final season at the helm.

Boston went 69-93 under Valentine for the franchise’s worst winning percentage since 1965. General manager Ben Cherington will now begin his second manager search in one year on the job, the first of which resulted in paying Valentine $5 million for six months of work (of course, who exactly made the final decision to hire Valentine is in question).

In a press release, Cherington noted that “with an historic number of injuries, Bobby was dealt a difficult hand” and added that “he did the best he could under seriously adverse circumstances, and I am thankful to him.”

Meanwhile, team president Larry Lucchino called it “a season of agony” and promised “more [changes] will come” because “we are determined to fix that which is broken and return the Red Sox to the level of success we have experienced over the past decade.”

As for Cherington’s status, owner John Henry said: “We have confidence in Ben Cherington and the kind of baseball organization he is determined to build.”

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.