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Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

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USA Today Sports

Manny Machado to switch from third base to shortstop in final season with Orioles

BALTIMORE -- Even if Manny Machado doesn't switch teams this season, he almost certainly will be changing his position in the infield.

Baltimore Orioles manager Buck Showalter said Saturday that Machado will move from third base to shortstop this spring, and shortstop Tim Beckham will be shifted to third.

The shuffle will become permanent unless something goes wrong -- or Machado gets traded to another club.

"There could be some adjustments if we don't like the feel of it, but that's where we're going to head into it," Showalter said at FanFest, an annual offseason event designed to promote interest in the club.

Machado and second baseman Jonathan Schoop did not attend.

RELATED: TWO FORMER ORIOLES ELECTED TO HALL OF FAME

Machado becomes a free agent after this year and is sure to demand a huge contract. The Orioles have entertained trade offers for the 25-year-old, who's been an All-Star in three of his six seasons with Baltimore.

Dan Duquette, vice president of baseball operations for the Orioles, has to decide whether to deal Machado sometime between now and September or seek to sign him to a long-term deal.

"That's a big decision for the organization, obviously," Duquette said. "But we're planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub."

Machado played in 156 games last season, offsetting a career-low .259 batting average with 33 home runs and 95 RBIs. He has averaged 35 home runs and 92 RBIs over the past three years.

Machado avoided arbitration this month by agreeing to a $16 million contract for 2018. He received $11.5 million last season.

Drafted as a shortstop as the third overall pick in 2010, Machado played third base with Baltimore next to slick-fielding J.J. Hardy, whose contract expired after last season.

So when they return to the field next month in Florida, the Orioles will have Machado at shortstop with Beckham on his left. Beckham came to Baltimore from Tampa Bay in July and played shortstop for the injured Hardy over the final two months.

"I think Tim would rather play shortstop, as Manny would," Showalter said. "Tim's big thing is getting an opportunity to play every day at one position. We need to settle both those guys into a spot and let them get into it."

Showalter said Machado was enthusiastic about the switch.

"All indications are, he's really excited about this," Showalter said. "I can't imagine him being in a better frame of mind or setup to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the past few years he's been very professional about it. But it's not like he's changing positions. He's going back to the position he's equipped to play."

RELATED: ZACH BRITTON TEARS ACHILLES

Deciding what to do with Machado is only one problem Duquette has faced this offseason. He's also been trying to fill out a starting rotation that currently consists of Dylan Bundy, Kevin Gausman and perhaps Miguel Castro, who made his first major league start on Sept. 30 after pitching in relief for 75 games over three seasons.

"Obviously we have work to do to address some of the deficiencies on our ballclub," Duquette said. "We're going to continue to build our pitching staff, most notably the starting pitching."

If Castro joins the rotation, the Orioles will be further pressed to fill out the back end of the bullpen. Closer Zach Britton tore his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout and will likely miss the entire 2018 season, leaving setup man Brad Brach the odds-on favorite to take over as the stopper.

"I'm hoping I get a shot to close. I'd be lying if I say I didn't," said Brach, who served significant time as a closer in 2017 while Britton was sidelined with elbow and knee issues.

Brach had 18 saves but blew six chances.

"I think I did all right," Brach said. "Hopefully, I get another chance to do it."

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Jones, Thome, Guerrero, Hoffman elected to baseball Hall of Fame

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Jones, Thome, Guerrero, Hoffman elected to baseball Hall of Fame

NEW YORK -- Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero and Trevor Hoffman were elected to the baseball Hall of Fame.

Designated hitter Edgar Martinez came close after a grass-roots campaign to boost him. Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both tainted by the steroids scandal, edged up but again fell far short.

Jones and Thome made it 54 players elected in their first year of eligibility by members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. Jones drew 97.2 percent (410 of 422) in results announced Wednesday, and Thome was at 89.8 percent.

"It was waterworks," Jones said after hearing the vote.

Jones was an eight-time All-Star third baseman for the Atlanta Braves. The switch-hitter batted .303 with 468 home runs.

Jones was a force for most of the Atlanta teams that won 14 straight division titles -- his election puts another member of those Braves clubs in Cooperstown, along with pitchers John Smoltz, Tom Glavine and Greg Maddux, manager Bobby Cox and general manager John Schuerholz.

Thome hit 612 home runs, putting him eighth on the career list. The five-time All-Star played mostly for the Cleveland Indians.

Guerrero was elected in his second try, getting 92.9 percent. The nine-time All-Star slugger played half his career with the Montreal Expos. The outfielder was a notorious bad-ball hitter, batting .318 with 449 homers and 1,496 RBIs.

Hoffman was chosen in his third year, getting 79.9 percent after missing by just five votes last time. The former San Diego Padres closer had 601 saves, second to Mariano Rivera's 652.

It took 75 percent for election, or 317 votes. Martinez made a big move up to 70.4 percent and fell 20 votes short. Mike Mussina climbed to 63.5 percent.

Clemens, winner of 354 games and seven Cy Young Awards, got 57.3 percent after drawing 54.1 percent last time. Bonds, the career home run leader and a seven-time MVP, reached 56.4 percent, up from 53.8 percent.

Clemens and Bonds each have four tries left.

The four new members will be inducted on July 29 . They will be joined by Jack Morris and shortstop Alan Trammell, who were picked last month by a committee that considered older players and executives.

Rivera heads the ballot next year, once again raising debate over whether any player will unanimously elected to the Hall. The late Roy Halladay also will be a first-time candidate.

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Closer Zach Britton tears Achilles tendon in offseason training

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Closer Zach Britton tears Achilles tendon in offseason training

BALTIMORE -- Orioles closer Zach Britton ruptured his right Achilles tendon in offseason training, a significant injury that could cause him to miss part of the 2018 season.

Baltimore executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette on Wednesday confirmed the torn Achilles tendon. It was not immediately clear how long Britton would be out.

In a tweet announcing the injury, the team said Britton was injured Tuesday while training in California and wished him a speedy recovery.

Britton had 15 saves and a 2.89 ERA with the Orioles this past season. In 2016, had a 0.54 ERA and was perfect in save opportunities with a major league-leading 47.

The left-hander, who turns 30 on Friday, is arbitration eligible after making $11.4 million last season. Britton can become a free agent after next season, which made him a strong trade candidate before the injury.

Britton has converted 135 of 145 save opportunities since becoming the Orioles' closer in 2014.

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