Twins making progress with A.J. Pierzynski

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Joe Mauer is officially moving to first base next season and the Twins aren’t quite sold that Josmil Pinto is ready to be an everyday catcher, so the goal is to bring in a new backstop this winter. And the wheels have already been put into motion.

According to beat writer LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the Minnesota front office is “making progress” in negotiations with free agent A.J. Pierzynski, who was a third round draft pick of the Twins in 1994 and spent the first six years of his major league career (1998-2003) with the club.

Pierzynski, 36, batted .272/.297/.425 with 17 home runs and 70 RBI in 134 games this past season for the Rangers. It’s not clear how many other teams are interested, but he seems likely to land a two-year contract.

It’s been a busy couple weeks for the Twins, who recently signed Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco.

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.