O’s looking to acquire Duchscherer, might have made offer

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There are only a couple of free agents remaining on the open market who could have real value in 2011.  Justin Duchscherer is one of them.

The 33-year-old right-hander boasts an excellent 3.13 career ERA and 1.14 career WHIP across eight major league seasons.  He has struggled to stay healthy in recent years, but his numbers have remained strong during the times that he has not on the disabled list and he told Britt Ghiroli of MLB.com last week that he is “pretty much 100 percent” heading into spring training this season.

The Nationals are hoping to land him, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN.com.  The Mariners want him too, a source told Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun.  The Orioles are also in the running, and they might have the best shot right now.

According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Baltimore is “in the lead” for Duchscherer and may have already given him a one-year major league contract offer.

The right-hander would probably get a chance to land one of the final spots in the O’s staring rotation this spring.  Brian Matusz is a lock, Jeremy Guthrie is too.  But Duchscherer could probably beat out some of the other young pitchers in Orioles camp if he simply shows that his hip is intact.

BREAKING: Manny Machado to sign with the Padres: 10 years, $300 million

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Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that Manny Machado has a deal with the San Diego Padres. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the deal is for ten years and $300 million with an opt-out after year five.

At the moment there is some disagreement as to how “done” this deal is, with Padres chairman Ron Fowler saying “We do not have a deal. We are continuing discussions.” Ken Rosenthal, however, says that’s “semantics” and that the financial terms are in place, with the deal requiring over some final touches on language and Machado’s physical, which will likely be a formality.

The Padres were a late entrant into the Machado sweepstakes, but they reportedly met with Machado last week. The club has obviously not won for a long time, but they have a strong farm system. While that usually mitigates against a big free agent signing, Machado’s age — 26 — means that he’s still likely to be a productive player when that core of prospects is mature. And if it doesn’t develop, hey, he’s made some serious bank and can still opt-out at an age when he might get another decent paycheck.

For the Padres, Machado represents the biggest single investment in a player in club history. Last year they spent too, of course, giving Eric Hosmer an eight-year, $144 million contract, but this is definitely next-level. As for the baseball side of things, it’s likely that Machado will be the full-time third baseman with Luis Urias handling shortstop. While all of the talk about Machado over the past several months has been focused on money and, sometimes, his alleged lack of hustle, the Padres are getting a player with a career line of .282/.335/.487 (121 OPS+), 175 career homers and a 33.8 career WAR in seven big league seasons. While he played shortstop last year and as a minor leaguer, his past and future is at third, where he is a superior defender. As for the hustle: it has almost exclusively been an obsession of the media, based on an ill-advised postgame quote in October. He has received no bad reviews from former teammates, all of whom speak highly of his game and his work ethic.

When the offseason began it appeared that the Phillies or the Yankees or, perhaps, the White Sox had the inside track on Machado. Everyone took a wait-and-see approach, reasonably believing that by waiting out Machado, a better deal could be struck. The risk of that approach, of course, is that it allowed the Padres to talk themselves into getting bold and, ultimately, swooping in to strike this deal.