Three weeks ago the Twins fired or reassigned all but one member of Ron Gardenhire’s coaching staff, which was a huge change for an organization that had fired a grand total of one coach during the previous decade.
Today the Twins announced the new coaching staff and it includes two of the “reassigned” coaches simply switching jobs.
First, the new guys: Tom Brunansky is the new hitting coach, Bobby Cuellar is the new bullpen coach, and Terry Steinbach is the new bench/catching coach. Brunansky and Cuellar were the hitting and pitching coaches at Triple-A and Steinbach is a native Minnesotan who finished his career with the Twins.
And now the reassigned guys: Joe Vavra, who was the hitting coach, is now the third base coach. Scott Ullger, who was the bench coach, is now the first base coach. Prior to being moved to bench coach Ullger previously had stints as the Twins’ hitting coach and third base coach, so he’s basically filled every possible role at this point.
It’s not often you see a hitting coach and a bench coach demoted to base coaches, but it fits with the Twins’ overall reluctance to make sweeping changes. Even when they shake things up they still can’t quite say goodbye to longtime staffers and in the end first base coach Jerry White, third base coach Steve Liddle, and bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek are the only members of the 2012 staff who won’t be on the 2013 staff.
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.