Manny Machado is back seven months after knee surgery

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Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that the Orioles are expected to activate Manny Machado from the disabled list for tonight’s game in Baltimore, assuming bad weather doesn’t postpone things.

He’s been out since suffering a season-ending knee injury on September 23 that required surgery, but Machado went 8-for-12 with five extra-base hits in three games while rehabbing in the minors, including 4-for-4 with two doubles Sunday. So his bat certainly looks ready to go.

Before the injury Machado had a fantastic age-20 season, hitting .283 with 14 homers and a league-leading 51 doubles while playing Gold Glove defense at third base. He made the All-Star team and cracked the top 10 in Wins Above Replacement among AL players. And now hopefully he’s ready to pick up where he left off after missing just six games last season and 24 games this season, which in terms of missed time for a major knee injury is just about the best-case scenario.

Orioles third basemen–Ryan Flaherty and Jonathan Schoop basically splitting time–have hit just .213 with one homer and a .565 OPS subbing for Machado this season, so even if Machado is a little rusty he figures to provide a big boost.

Report: Indians, Padres still talking about starting pitching trade

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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that the Indians and Padres are still discussing a potential trade for a starting pitcher, namely Corey Kluber or Trevor Bauer. Rosenthal adds that a deal isn’t close and is unlikely to occur before Opening Day. The Padres are balking at the Indians’ asking prices for the two starters.

The Padres could certainly use an ace at the top of the rotation. With the addition of Manny Machado, the lineup is looking decent, but beyond Joey Lucchesi, the starting pitching doesn’t inspire confidence.

Kluber, who turns 33 years old next month, has club options for the next two seasons at $13.5 million and $14 million with $1 million buyouts each. Last year, the right-hander finished third in AL Cy Young balloting, finishing 20-7 with a 2.89 ERA and a 222/34 K/BB ratio in 215 innings.

Bauer, 28, is earning $13 million this season and will enter his fourth and final year of arbitration heading into 2020. Last year, Bauer went 12-6 with a 2.21 ERA and a 221/57 K/BB ratio across 175 1/3 innings.

The Indians are the prohibitive favorites in the AL Central once again, but that has as much to do with the mediocrity of the rest of the division as the Indians’ commitment to competing. If the Indians were to trade either or both starters, that would be good news for the Twins, who are projected to be 15 games worse than the Indians but still finish in second place, according to PECOTA from Baseball Prospectus.