Twins reassign hitting coach Joe Vavra amid staff shakeup

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On a day filled with hitting coaches being let go across baseball Joe Vavra is the latest, although in this case LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins have reassigned him within the organization rather than simply firing him.

Minnesota shaking up the coaching staff following back-to-back miserable seasons is no surprise, and in addition to changing Vavra’s role the Twins also fired longtime bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek and third base coach Steve Liddle.

Pitching has certainly been a much bigger problem than hitting for the Twins, but the organization being very fond of Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky has led to speculation that he’d replace Vavra at some point and the assumption has been that pitching coach Rick Anderson isn’t going anywhere as long as Ron Gardenhire is manager.

Vavra has been the Twins’ hitting coach since 2006, during which time the offense has ranked 10th, 13th, 5th, 4th, 3rd, 12th, and 8th in runs scored among the 14 AL teams.

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.