White Sox and Royals interested in Brett Gardner

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Earlier this week the Royals were said to be interested in Brett Gardner, whose role with the Yankees is unclear following the trade for Curtis Granderson, and now the White Sox are reportedly interested in him too.
New York may be hesitant to deal Gardner until sorting things out with Hideki Matsui and Johnny Damon, but according to Joe Cowley of the Chicago Sun-Times the White Sox would love to add him as their starting center fielder and leadoff man. Chicago acquiring Gardner would shift Alex Rios to right field and send Andruw Jones to DH or the bench.
That would significantly improve the White Sox’s defense, because Gardner is a very strong center fielder and Rios is excellent in a corner spot, but Cowley’s assertion that Gardner “could be on the brink of being a special prototypical leadoff hitter” is overstating things quite a bit. Gardner certainly has top-of-the-order speed, but so far at least there’s little to suggest that he has a top-of-the-order bat.
He’s 26 years old and has hit just .256/.325/.352 through 425 plate appearances in the majors, with Baseball Think Factory projecting him to bat .253/.328/.344 in 2010. Gardner’s minor-league track record is slightly more promising, but he has almost zero power and doesn’t walk much, so unless he’s able to consistently hit near .300 odds are he’ll be more like a “prototypical” fourth outfielder.

Orioles “have begun fielding calls of interest” on Manny Machado

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports Thursday that the Orioles “are said to have begun fielding calls of interest” on superstar Manny Machado and “are close to the point of seriously weighing whether to trade him.”

You’d think it would be a no-brainer for the last-place O’s to flip Machado — an impending free agent — for prospects, but Heyman notes there is “still a question whether or not longtime Orioles owner Peter Angelos” will give the go-ahead. One person familiar with the situation put it a “50-50” likelihood. Another suggested that it would take a massive return, which, sure.

Machado entered play Thursday with a sensational .328/.405/.635 batting line, 15 home runs, and an MLB-leading 43 RBI in 49 games. It’d be a real shock if he’s still wearing an O’s uniform by the end of July.

Heyman reported previously that at least nine teams made aggressive plays for Machado this winter, including the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers, Indians, Diamondbacks, Yankees, Red Sox, White Sox, and Cardinals. A whole lot of those teams still make sense here in late May — maybe all of them except the White Sox.