We learned on Christmas Eve that the Nationals have a reported three-year, $37.5 million agreement with second baseman Daniel Murphy, but FOX Sports’ Jon Morosi reports that the club isn’t done looking for upgrades in their lineup.
At the very least, the Nationals are presumably looking for someone who could share center field duties with young Michael A. Taylor and function as insurance for Jayson Werth, who has dealt with a number of injuries in recent years. Pete Kerzel of MASN Sports reported earlier this month that the Nationals talked to the Rockies about a trade for Charlie Blackmon, but there are still a number of options remaining on the free agent market.
If the focus is on center field, the possibilities include the likes of Denard Span, Dexter Fowler, Gerardo Parra, and Austin Jackson. You could also potentially include Yoenis Cespedes in this mix, though his price tag could be beyond where the Nationals are willing to go. James Wagner of the Washington Post reports that the Nationals haven’t ruled out a reunion with Span, but they are hesitant about his health after hip surgery. This could be why they declined to give him a one-year, $15.8 million qualifying offer after the season.
Buster Olney of ESPN reports that the White Sox and Diamondbacks have emerged as two of the strongest contenders for Orioles third baseman Manny Machado. It seems like a foregone conclusion that Baltimore will deal their superstar infielder this winter, but nothing appears imminent just yet. While both the White Sox and D-backs have reportedly made serious offers, Orioles owner Peter Angelos is wary of any non-contending team that might be incentivized to flip Machado to the rival Yankees next season.
The White Sox, for their part, have assured the Orioles that they view Machado more as a solid one-year rental than the new face of their franchise, with no immediate plans to deal him elsewhere. Given their current rebuilding status and the unlikelihood that they would contend in 2018, it makes their offer a bit of a head-scratcher — and, as USA Today Sports’ Bob Nightengale points out, they’ve been reluctant to put any top-5 prospects on the table in preliminary negotiations.
The Diamondbacks, on the other hand, are far better positioned to enter the postseason in 2018, though that doesn’t automatically make them the perfect landing spot for Machado. They already have Jake Lamb stationed at third base, and while it’s not inconceivable that they could jettison the Ketel Marte/Chris Owings/Nick Ahmed shortstop platoon for someone of Machado’s talent, his $17 million salary appears to be more than the D-backs are currently capable of absorbing.
The White Sox and D-backs may have exhibited the most interest in Machado so far, but they’re hardly the only contenders here. MASN Sports’ Roch Kubatko maintains that the Cardinals and Yankees remain in discussions for the 25-year-old, with Cardinals’ RHP Jordan Hicks and catcher Carson Kelly drawing interest, as well as Yankees’ top prospect Gleyber Torres. Any deal involving the Yankees still feels like a long shot, however; as Craig mentioned on Wednesday, it makes sense that the club wouldn’t want to see their star player hanging around their division rivals in 2018, and the Yankees should be well prepared to make a run at him in free agency next winter.