Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com has an in-depth interview with Dontrelle Willis. Who is still attempting to make it back to the bigs, even though his “comeback,” for lack of a better term, has now lasted longer than the actual productive part of his career.
The difference: Willis sounds relaxed and at peace these days. Far more than he was during his short and stormy stint with the Orioles last year or even his brief stops with the Phillies, Diamondbacks and Reds:
Willis has been working out at HoHoKam Stadium. He said he was told he’s been hitting 91-92 mph during his bullpen sessions, though he doesn’t put much stock in the JUGS gun or believe he needs to pitch with maximum velocity. He said it doesn’t matter whether he’s used as a starter or a reliever.
“Baseball’s like life,” Willis said. “You have to trust what you have. You are who you are and be happy. And if they don’t like it, f—‘em, you know what I mean? That’s what it boils down to. You have to be honest with yourself.
In addition to where he is today, Willis offers his memories of the 2003 playoffs, including the Steve Bartman game and walking in to Yankee Stadium for the World Series. Which, surprisingly enough, he said was way easier than dealing with Wrigley Field.
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.