Pirates have the answer: Ryan Church

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Dejan Kovacevic of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is reporting that the Pirates have agreed to terms on a contract with outfielder Ryan Church, a free agent who played just 111 games last season as he battled back problems.

The signing is contingent on Church passing a physical, which will come later his week. This isn’t a huge signing but it’s the Pirates, so what did you expect?

Besides, the team has already taken a much more important step in ending their 17-year run of losing seasons, the hiring of a “Mental Conditioning Coordinator.”

Straight to the top, Pirates. Straight to the top.

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.