Rumor Central: Orioles won't shop Manny Machado?

September, 22, 2017
Sep 22
12:20
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Evan Habeeb/USA TODAY SportsThree-time All-Star Manny Machado will be a very expensive free agent after the 2018 season.

Manny Machado is a cornerstone of the Baltimore Orioles' franchise, and it appears it will stay that way for the time being.

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports the Orioles have no plans to shop the three-time All-Star infielder this winter, “though they haven’t yet decided whether they will make a second big attempt to lock him up long-term.”

Jon Morosi of MLB Network echoes a similar sentiment, reporting the Orioles plan to have Machado on their 2018 roster, “postponing a possible youth movement for at least a year.”

It is expected to be a busy offseason for the O's, who have lost 12 of their last 15 games to fall out of realistic postseason contention. They are expected to rework a starting rotation that has plenty of question marks when you get past Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Morosi reports the Orioles could add as many as two starting pitchers from outside the organization in a serious effort to pursue a title in 2018. A key part of that plan would be retaining Machado, who will be a prized, and very expensive, free agent after next season.

The 25-year-old Machado owns a career slash line of .280/.330/.479 and has hit at least 33 homers each of the last three seasons.

- Doug Mittler

AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastFranklin Barreto, right, was called up in September after hitting .290 at Triple-A Nashville.

The Oakland Athletics might consider top prospect Franklin Barreto as an option in center field next season.

Joe Stiglich of the CSNBayArea.com reports Barreto, a middle infielder who was part of the their September call-ups, “might eventually get a look in center.” A future role in center field would be linked to whether the A’s decide to pick up the $6 million option on Jed Lowrie to keep him as the primary second baseman next season.

Stiglich says the competition in center field will be one of the more interesting storylines in camp next spring. The field will include Dustin Fowler, one of the prospects acquired from the Yankees in the deal for Sonny Gray.

Barreto, who also had a brief stint with the A’s two months ago, is hitting .190 with a .239 OBP in 63 at-bats for the big league club. The 21-year-old from Venezuela hit .290/.339/.456 at Triple-A Nashville this season.

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Lucas Duda a free-agent option in Seattle?

September, 22, 2017
Sep 22
9:07
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Lucas DudaBrad Penner-USA TODAY SportsA free agent this offseason, Lucas Duda has hit 12 homers in his first 45 games for the Rays.

The Seattle Mariners will consider several free agents at first base this offseason, and “are thought to like” Lucas Duda as one possibility, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The 31-year-old Duda spent his entire career in the New York Mets' organization before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays in July. Duda has hit a combined .221/.325/.508 with 29 homers this season, including 12 in 45 games for the Rays. He hit a career-high 30 homers for the Mets in 2014.

The Mariners traded for impending free agent Yonder Alonso in August, and he has been splitting time at first base with Danny Valencia.

Heyman adds the Mariners could “perhaps” have interest in Mitch Moreland, who has hit 19 home runs for the Boston Red Sox this year.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Giants in mix for Shohei Otani?

September, 21, 2017
Sep 21
10:45
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Shohei Otani, Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Samurai JapanKoji Watanabe/SAMURAI JAPAN/Getty ImagesShohei Otani is a star pitcher and outfielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters.

Add the San Francisco Giants to the list of teams doing their due diligence on Shohei Otani, the star pitcher and outfielder for the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan.

According to multiple reports, including this one from Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Giants general manager Bobby Evans and assistant GM Jeremy Shelley are in Japan to scout Otani, who is expected to sign with a major-league team this winter.

While the 23-year-old Otani would likely land an astronomical figure on the open market, his first contract in the major leagues will be very limited under terms of the new collective bargaining agreement.

Schulman reports the Giants and several other teams cannot give him more than $300,000 because of previous international signings. But ESPN’s Buster Olney reported earlier this week that the most any team could pay for Otani would be in the $3.5 million range, so the Giants could sell Otani on San Francisco being a desirable city in which to live.

Olney reported the expectation within the industry is that the “the big market clubs will have an advantage,” which could work in the Giants' favor.

Otani is hitting .341 this season despite dealing with ankle problems. The injuries limited his time on the mound this year, but he recorded a 1.86 ERA in 2016.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Mets won't part ways with Matt Harvey?

September, 21, 2017
Sep 21
9:31
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Matt HarveyMike Stobe/Getty ImagesMatt Harvey has a 13.19 ERA in four starts for the Mets since coming off the disabled list.

Matt Harvey is in the midst of a very dramatic and public fall, but the New York Mets apparently have no plans to cut ties with the injury-plagued right-hander.

“It’s highly unlikely that we’re not going to bring him back next year,” general manager Sandy Alderson told Mike Puma of the New York Post.

Harvey has made four starts since returning from a right shoulder injury that sidelined him for 2 1/2 months, posting an ERA of 13.19 while allowing 32 hits in 14 1/3 innings. “There are no answers,” Harvey told reporters after Monday's rocky outing against the Marlins.

Given Harvey’s past success, the Mets appear willing to tender a contract to the 28-year-old and pay a deal in the $6 million range for the arbitration-eligible pitcher.

An All-Star in 2013, Harvey made two starts for the Mets in the 2015 World Series after missing the 2014 season following Tommy John surgery. His career hit another bump in the road last year when he was diagnosed with thoracic outlet syndrome that required surgery and forced him to miss three months.

"A significant factor for the Mets, not to be underestimated, is avoiding the potential embarrassment that would come if Harvey were non-tendered by the team and then regained his form pitching elsewhere next season," writes Puma.

Harvey is 5-6 with a 6.59 ERA in 17 starts this season.

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Will the Orioles pass on Wade Miley's option?

September, 21, 2017
Sep 21
8:45
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Wade MileyAP Photo/Gail BurtonWade Miley has allowed 16 runs over 10 1/3 innings in his last three outings, including a loss to Boston on Wednesday.

After another rough outing by Wade Miley, are the Baltimore Orioles prepared to part ways with the veteran left-hander this winter?

Dan Connolly of Baltimorebaseball.com says the decision to decline Miley's $12 million option and pay a $500,000 buyout should be a no-brainer. "I don't care if the going rate for a veteran starter on the free-agent market ends up being $12 million," opines Connolly. "The point is the Orioles tried Miley in Camden Yards and in the AL East. It hasn't gone swimmingly."

The 30-year-old Miley, acquired in a July 2016 deadline deal with the Seattle Mariners, is 8-14 with a 5.52 ERA and 1.70 WHIP this season. He allowed six runs over 4 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 9-0 loss to the Boston Red Sox and has given up 16 earned runs in his past 10 1/3 innings over three outings.

The Orioles' 2018 rotation has plenty of question marks when you get past Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman. Miley did have a 2.60 ERA over a five-start span in August, but has done little of late to prove he is a viable option.

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Time running out on Twins' Miguel Sano?

September, 20, 2017
Sep 20
1:22
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Miguel Sano Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsTwins third baseman Miguel Sano has not played since August 19th due to a stress reaction in his shin.

The Minnesota Twins seem resigned to the fact that they will finish the season without slugger Miguel Sano at third base.

Sano has not played since Aug. 19 due to a stress reaction in his shin and his recovery has gone slower than hoped. “My biggest concern now is even if he gets to the point where we get him on the field in any capacity, how much of a challenge is it going to be for him to have any type of timing at all? With some of the pitching we have to face, that’s going to be hard to give away at-bats just to hope he’s got it,” manager Paul Molitor told reporters, including Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press.

The 24-year-old Sano is hitting .267/.356/.514 with 28 home runs and was named to his first All-Star team.

Berardino says the chances of Sano returning to the field “appear to be nearly nil unless the Twins go on a sustained postseason run.” If Sano does return, it would be as a designated hitter, adds MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger.

Minnesota entered play Wednesday with a 1½ game lead over the Los Angeles Angels for the second American League wild card berth.

Eduardo Escobar has been Sano’s primary replacement at third base and will likely continue in that role. Escobar has a .269/.310/.672 slash line over his last 19 games.

-- Doug Mittler

Steven King/Icon SportswireA four-time All-Star, Ian Kinsler is hitting just .236 this season.

Veteran second baseman Ian Kinsler told Jon Morosi of MLB Network that he will meet “soon” with Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila to discuss his future with the rebuilding club.

The 35-year-old Kinsler has a 2018 option reportedly worth between $10 million and $12 million that includes a $5 million buyout. Kinsler has a partial no-trade clause and told Morosi his willingness to waive that clause will depend on what he hears about the Tigers’ offseason plans.

Kinsler's future in Detroit is uncertain at best. The four-time All-Star is having one of the worst offensive seasons of his career with a .236/.315/.409 slash line. Waiving his no-trade clause, which will almost certainly come with a financial reward, gives him a better chance of playing for a contender next season.

The Tigers are in the midst of an overhaul after trading away pitcher Justin Verlander and outfielder Justin Upton just prior to the Aug. 31 deadline for postseason eligibility. Soon after those trades were completed, Anthony Fenech of the Detroit Free Press reported the Tigers will move Kinsler in the offseason, “when his value becomes more favorable.”

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Will Orioles shut down Dylan Bundy?

September, 19, 2017
Sep 19
9:01
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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY SportsDylan Bundy has pitched 169 2/3 innings in his first full season in the Orioles' rotation.

The Baltimore Orioles have been extra careful with the workload of Dylan Bundy, but there are no plans to shut down the prized right-hander. At least not yet.

Bundy, in his first full season in a big league rotation, reached 169 2/3 innings after working 4 1/3 frames in Monday’s outing against the Boston Red Sox. "No, I don't think we're at that point yet," manager Buck Showalter told reporters, including MLB.com’s Brittany Ghiroli, when asked about pulling the plug on Bundy's season. "As long as we think it's beneficial for him and the club, then we'll continue down that path. But we're not at that point yet."

The Orioles have started Bundy with five days rest or more on 15 occasions, hoping to have him available in September and October, should Baltimore advance that far.

The O's postseason hopes, however, took another painful hit with a 10-8, 11-inning loss to the Red Sox on Monday that dropped them 5 1/2 games off the pace in the American League wild-card race.

Look for Bundy’s status to be addressed again after his next start against the Rays this weekend.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Jake Lamb a platoon player in October?

September, 19, 2017
Sep 19
8:31
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Jake LambNorm Hall/Getty ImagesD-backs third baseman Jake Lamb is hitting just .146 with a .301 slugging percentage against left-handers.

Jake Lamb has struggled against left-handed pitching, and it could cost the Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman some at-bats in the postseason.

Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic writes the D-backs have started trade-deadline pickup Adam Rosales in four of the past 10 games against southpaw starters and that trend could continue into October, when Arizona is likely to host the National League wild-card game.

"It might be more centered around Adam Rosales and his ability to hit left-handed pitching that I'm thinking about more than what Jake can or can't do," manager Torey Lovullo told reporters.

Lamb was one of the hottest hitters in baseball earlier in the year, posting a 1.057 OPS in May, but has leveled off to a .247/.352/.478 overall slash line. He is hitting .146 with a .301 slugging percentage against left-handers and has just five of his 27 homers against southpaws.

Rosales is hitting .257/.310/.429 in 105 at-bats against left-handers between the Athletics and Diamondbacks.

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Could Bob Geren be the next Mets manager?

September, 18, 2017
Sep 18
10:48
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Bob GerenIsaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY SportsBob Geren was the Mets' bench coach for four seasons before taking the same job with the Dodgers.

Los Angeles Dodgers bench coach Bob Geren “may have a leg up” on a possible managerial vacancy with the New York Mets, reports Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe.

The Mets have yet to make a public announcement on the future of current skipper Terry Collins, although Cafardo says it “seems inevitable” that the two sides will part ways after seven seasons.

Cafardo says New York general manager Sandy Alderson has a “fondness” for Geren, who was bench coach of the Mets from 2012-15 before taking the same job with the Dodgers. When Geren interviewed for the Dodgers managerial vacancy two years ago, Alderson praised Geren for being "tuned into analytics," which counts a lot in the Mets' front office.

The 55-year-old Geren posted a 334-376 record as manager of the Oakland Athletics from 2007 until he was fired in June 2011.

The Mets went to the World Series under Collins in 2015 and earned a wild-card berth last year, but have stumbled to a 65-84 record in an injury-plagued 2017 season.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Will the Phillies shop Cesar Hernandez?

September, 18, 2017
Sep 18
10:00
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Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia PhilliesGary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY SportsSecond baseman Cesar Hernandez has emerged as one of baseball's best leadoff hitters.

Second baseman Cesar Hernandez will likely be a key figure in the Philadelphia Phillies' offseason, either as a building block for 2018 or as a valuable trade chip, suggests Ryan Lawrence of PhillyVoice.com.

The 27-year-old Hernandez has emerged as a dependable leadoff hitter, compiling a .292/.366/.404 slash line over the past two seasons.

The recent promotion of J.P. Crawford has left the Phillies with a crowded infield as Hernandez, Crawford, Freddy Galvis and Maikel Franco have been splitting September at-bats. Galvis is set to be a free agent, but the Phillies also have second-base prospect Scott Kingery waiting in the wings.

Though the Phillies have placed a high value on Hernandez, particularly his ability to get on base, they also need to bolster a starting staff that is thin when you get past Aaron Nola. Lawrence suggests Hernandez or even Kingery could be floated in trade talks to bring back a controllable pitcher.

"What is certain is the Phillies have a pretty nice piece, either for their next contending team or to shop on the trade market, in Cesar Hernandez," Lawrence writes.

-- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Giants likely to pick up Matt Moore's option?

September, 8, 2017
Sep 8
10:07
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AP Photo/David ZalubowskiMatt Moore was an All-Star in 2013, but has a 5.42 ERA and 1.51 WHIP for the Giants this season.

Matt Moore has a bloated 5.42 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP for the San Francisco Giants this season, but he might still be worth a $9 million investment for 2018.

“This organization has long lived by the credo that it cannot have too much pitching, so chances are the Giants will exercise Moore’s $9 million contract option for 2018,” suggests Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle.

The 28-year-old Moore, who was an All-Star for the Rays in 2013, also has a $10 million option for 2019.

Schulman calls the options “dirt cheap in today’s baseball economy,” adding the left-hander would provide another veteran arm on a staff that has some “unknown commodities” in Chris Stratton, Tyler Beede, Andrew Suarez and Joan Gregorio.

Moore owns a 49-46 record and a 4.22 ERA in 136 career games for the Rays and Giants.

- Doug Mittler

Rumor Central: Jays unlikely to deal Josh Donaldson?

September, 8, 2017
Sep 8
9:31
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Troy Taormina-USA TODAY SportsThree-time All-Star Josh Donaldson has been limited to 95 games this season due to a calf injury.

It is highly unlikely that the Toronto Blue Jays will trade star third baseman Josh Donaldson this winter, reports Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports.

The last-place Blue Jays (64-76) have underperformed this season, but also suffered injuries to a number of key players, including Donaldson, Aaron Sanchez and Troy Tulowitzki. Given that the front office feels the team can quickly return to contention, Donaldson “almost surely isn’t going anywhere,” writes Heyman.

Donaldson, the 2015 American League MVP who will be a free agent after next season, is hitting .254/.378/.519 with 25 homers in 95 games.

Meanwhile, Gregor Chisholm of MLB.com suggests the Jays will not promote prized third-base prospect Vladimir Guerrero Jr. until 2019 because they already have a third baseman in Donaldson. Chisholm predicts the 18-year-old Guerrero will spend most of next season at Double-A New Hampshire before a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo.

- Doug Mittler

Adrian GonzalezJayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY SportsAdrian Gonzalez has been limited to 64 games this season due to back problems and is hitting just .248.

A lingering back injury has called into question whether Adrian Gonzalez will be on the Los Angeles Dodgers' postseason roster.

The five-time All-Star first baseman has been limited to 64 games this season due to a herniated disk in his back that required two trips to the disabled list.

“I think the challenge for us with Adrian is to use him off the bench in a meaningful pinch-hit spot, but also give him enough starts to stay current,” manager Dave Roberts told reporters, including J.P. Hoornstra of the Los Angeles Daily News. “Right now where we’re at, his back is a day-to-day thing."

There also is the issue of production. Gonzalez is hitting .226 with one homer in 53 at-bats since coming off the disabled list in mid-August and owns a .248/.291/.349 slash line for the season.

With star rookie Cody Bellinger set at first base, Gonzalez’s role in the postseason would likely be as a lefty pinch-hitter. “The Dodgers also prize versatility off the bench; Gonzalez only plays first base,” Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times cautioned last week.

- Doug Mittler

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