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Report: Phillies interested in Manny Machado; Orioles have done homework on Phillies’ minor league system

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Orioles third baseman Manny Machado will become a free agent after the 2018 season and there hasn’t been much in the way of progress on a contract extension between the two sides. It seems as if Machado will test the open market next offseason.

The Phillies, currently with relatively minuscule obligations for the 2018 season and beyond, are expected to be big players for Machado, as well as other potential free agents like Bryce Harper. In fact, the Phillies may not even want to wait until next offseason, as Roch Kubatko of MASN reports that the club has expressed interest in Machado to the Orioles. In return, the O’s have been doing their homework on the Phillies’ minor league system.

Kubatko notes that the Orioles like, in particular, Phillies prospects Sixto Sanchez and Scott Kingery. The Phillies may be hesitant to part with either considering they can get Machado for a lot of cash but no prospects next winter. MLB Pipeline rates Sanchez as the Phillies’ best pitching prospect and the second-best prospect overall in the system. Kingery is third overall and the top infielder. While the Phillies’ system is among the best in baseball, its notable weakness is pitching, so parting with Sanchez — who throws in the upper 90’s and can hit triple digits — would be a big ask. Kingery is seen as the club’s next second baseman of the future, so much so that the Phillies are shopping Cesar Hernandez at the Winter Meetings.

As usual with rumors during the Winter Meetings, there may be some smoke but no actual fire here. The Orioles are likely to get continued interest in Machado from many teams between now and the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline. They are simply doing their due diligence by seeing what the Phillies and others have to offer for Machado.

Giants name Johnny Cueto Opening Day starter vs. Dodgers

Johnny Cueto Opening Day
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Giants manager Gabe Kapler confirmed on Tuesday that veteran Johnny Cueto be the Opening Day starter against the Dodgers in L.A. on July 23, Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports. Cueto will start opposite Clayton Kershaw. Kapler tabbed Cueto originally for the Opening Day start back in March, but that was for a 162-game season and before the league shut down due to the pandemic.

Cueto, 34, is making his fifth career Opening Day start. The previous four he made came in 2012-15 with the Reds. Madison Bumgarner started five of the previous six Opening Days for the Giants, but he’s now a member of the Diamondbacks.

Cueto underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 and didn’t return to action until September last season. Across 16 innings spanning four starts, the right-hander allowed nine earned runs on 11 hits and nine walks with 13 strikeouts. The Giants are hoping Cueto can return to 2016 form when we was an All-Star, finishing 18-5 with a 2.79 ERA over 219 2/3 innings.

The Giants will have their hands full with the Dodgers to open the season. Last year, the Dodgers won 106 games while the Giants won 77. The recently-released PECOTA standings from Baseball Prospectus sees the Dodgers going 39-21 and finishing first while the Giants are projected to go 25-35 and finish in last place.