ESPN’s Buster Olney tweeted earlier that Ichiro Suzuki appears to be the odd man out in the Yankees’ outfield and adds that the Phillies could use outfield help. The Yankees, of course, will have recent free agent additions Jacoby Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran in center and right, respectively, and Brett Gardner in left. Alfonso Soriano would back up in either corner while Gardner can move back to center in a pinch.
The Phillies don’t have a starting spot for Ichiro, but could put him on the bench. GM Ruben Amaro said during the off-season that he prefers to have a left-handed hitting outfielder capable of playing center field, but those were scarce throughout the off-season. He did add Bobby Abreu, but outside of drawing a few walks, he has had a disappointing spring to date, hitting just .111 in 18 at-bats.
That being said, there doesn’t seem to be a strong match considering that the Phillies are right up against the $189 million luxury tax when everything is factored in. The Yankees would have to pay just about the entirety of his $6.5 million salary or take back an equally-expensive player in return, such as reliever Mike Adams ($7 million) who is recovering from a torn rotator cuff and two labrum tears.
The Phillies adding the 40-year-old to their roster, though, would make for a fresh source of age-related jokes at their expense.
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.