Reds manager Dusty Baker declined to start Billy Hamilton again Monday after his three-hit day Sunday, instead reserving him for pinch-running duties. When he did go to him in the eighth, it produced a memorable sequence.
Hamilton pinch-ran for Ryan Hanigan with two outs and none on in a tie game in the bottom of the eighth versus the Mets. Being that there were two outs, Hamilton wasted absolutely no time in trying to take second. He didn’t fool the Mets, either. Or not some of them, anyway. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud called for the pitchout on the first pitch with Frank Francisco on the mound. Francisco, apparently having his signals crossed, threw a fastball right down main street as Hamilton was taking off. D’Arnaud couldn’t snare it and Chris Heisey let the pitch go, so it ended up hitting umpire Tony Randazzo right in the chest.
That was fortunate, because Hamilton probably would have ended up on third had the ball missed the ump or deflected off to the side. As is, he was left stranded on second after Heisey struck out. Fortunately for the Mets, that marked the end of his night in the tie game.
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.