Dodgers switch closers, dumping Brandon League for Kenley Jansen

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Overshadowed by the bench-clearing ugliness of last night’s Dodgers-Diamondbacks game is that Los Angeles manager Don Mattingly finally decided to change closers, announcing beforehand that Kenley Jansen would replace Brandon League in the ninth inning.

Jansen has always been the far superior pitcher, but Mattingly has repeatedly resisted making a change despite League posting a 6.00 ERA and allowing runs in 11 of his 24 appearances. No doubt the front office overpaying League with a three-year, $22.5 million contract played a part.

Meanwhile, since debuting four years ago Jansen has a 2.27 ERA and incredible 14.2 strikeouts per nine innings in 174 appearances, including a 2.45 ERA and 45/6 K/BB ratio in 33 innings this season. During that same four-year span League has a 3.43 ERA and 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings. It’s been obvious for a while now who the Dodgers’ best reliever is.

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.