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O's Sisco ranked 7th among catching prospects

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' Chance Sisco was ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect on Thursday, joining a promising group ranked by MLB Pipeline.

Sisco, who will vie for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, is the Orioles' top prospect overall. He is the highest-ranking catching prospect in the American League East. The only other club in the division that had a backstop prospect ranked in the top 10 was Toronto, with Danny Jansen at No. 8.

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' Chance Sisco was ranked as the seventh-best catching prospect on Thursday, joining a promising group ranked by MLB Pipeline.

Sisco, who will vie for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring, is the Orioles' top prospect overall. He is the highest-ranking catching prospect in the American League East. The only other club in the division that had a backstop prospect ranked in the top 10 was Toronto, with Danny Jansen at No. 8.

:: Top 10 Prospects by Position ::

Sisco got off to a slow start with Triple-A Norfolk last season, but was able to get back on track. In 97 games, he posted a slash line of .267/.340/.395 with seven homers, 23 doubles, 32 walks and 47 RBIs.

Defensively, Sisco caught only 21 would-be basestealers out of 93 attempts. The former second-round pick, who has only been a catcher for about five years, has never had his offense in question. Defensively, though, he'll have to show more to earn a spot with Baltimore this spring.

Sisco did not throw out a runner in five attempts in the Majors. In 22 plate appearances, he hit an impressive .333/.455/.788 with the Orioles. He earned a trip to the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game for a second straight year.

Video: Top Prospects: Chance Sisco, C, Orioles

The left-handed hitter will spend a considerable amount of time this spring working with catching coach John Russell but could open the year in Triple-A if the O's add a veteran. If not, he'll compete with prospect Austin Wynns to join Caleb Joseph and head north.

Still, he is seen as the organization's next long-term option behind the plate. Sisco, who will be 23 next month, is listed at 6-foot-2 and 195 pounds.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Chance Sisco

FanFest autograph vouchers on sale now

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Orioles FanFest is approaching, and autograph session vouchers for the annual event are on sale.

Once again, the club's autograph policy will help make a community impact through OriolesREACH. Children ages 4-14 will have a specially-designated Kids Only player autograph station presented by ESSKAY that is free of charge and will operate continuously throughout the day. All other autograph stations at FanFest will require the advance purchase of autograph vouchers exclusively at orioles.com/fanfest for $20 each, with all of the proceeds benefiting children's charities through OriolesREACH. Since instituting the autograph policy in 2011, FanFest has raised more than $835,000 for the Orioles Charitable Foundation.

BALTIMORE -- Orioles FanFest is approaching, and autograph session vouchers for the annual event are on sale.

Once again, the club's autograph policy will help make a community impact through OriolesREACH. Children ages 4-14 will have a specially-designated Kids Only player autograph station presented by ESSKAY that is free of charge and will operate continuously throughout the day. All other autograph stations at FanFest will require the advance purchase of autograph vouchers exclusively at orioles.com/fanfest for $20 each, with all of the proceeds benefiting children's charities through OriolesREACH. Since instituting the autograph policy in 2011, FanFest has raised more than $835,000 for the Orioles Charitable Foundation.

FanFest information

The list of autograph session times and participants is posted online at orioles.com/fanfest.

Fans will be able to print their vouchers at home and must present them to the attendant at the appropriate autograph session. Fans must be in line for their autograph session no later than 30 minutes after the session begins. Autograph vouchers are not eligible for refunds or exchanges.

If vouchers are still available on the day of the event, they will be available for purchase at the Ticket Sales location at FanFest.

Orioles FanFest will be held Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Baltimore Convention Center from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. All fans must purchase a ticket to attend. Orioles Season Plan Members will receive early entry at 10 a.m.

There will be 250 vouchers available for each autograph session, guaranteeing that every fan purchasing a voucher for a particular session will receive an autograph from each of the players at the station. Fans may only use one voucher per person per autograph station. Each person in line must have his or her own voucher and may only use one voucher per station.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Schoop returns to Curacao for baseball clinic

This winter has seen players lift weights, push pickup trucks and take aerobics classes, all with an eye toward Spring Training in a few weeks.

But #NoOffseason isn't just about whacking stuff with a sledgehammer. It's about being all baseball, all the time -- whether that means working out or, like Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop, heading home for some extra practice.

Bullpen depth a source of strength for Orioles

With talented stable of relievers including Brach, Givens, O'Day, club built to withstand absence of Britton
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

BALTIMORE -- The good news is the Orioles' relief corps has been here before. Yes, it's not ideal to lose All-Star closer Zach Britton for some -- if not all -- of the first half of the 2018 season, but not many bullpens could withstand that kind of loss. The O's relievers can.

A group that includes Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day and Richard Bleier were excellent last year when Britton was on the disabled list and will be heavily counted on again in 2018. With no rotation upgrades so far this winter (the Orioles currently have just two starters penciled in), the bullpen looks poised again to be tasked with picking up a fair share of innings.

O's bullpen looks to step up

There should also be some healthy competition for the remaining spots in camp. Miguel Castro, Mike Wright and Gabriel Ynoa are all relief options if they don't make the rotation, with the latter two out of options this spring. Donnie Hart could make it to give them another lefty option, and the club's three Rule 5 Draft picks are always arms to watch.

Video: Givens looks forward to his increased role in bullpen

Baltimore's picks included left-hander Nestor Cortes from the Yankees' Triple-A affiliate, righty Pedro Araujo from the Cubs' Triple-A roster and righty Jose Mesa, who was on the Yankees' Double-A roster. Cortes seems to be the most capable of the three right now, but a lot can change during camp.

Though manager Buck Showalter won't publicly commit to a closer without Britton -- who sustained a right Achilles injury in an offseason workout right before Christmas -- Brach seems like the logical fit to get the lion's share of opportunities. Givens is also an option and Showalter told reporters at the team's mini-camp earlier this month that he felt confident using both O'Day and Bleier as well.

Brach went 4-5 with a 3.18 ERA in 67 games (68 innings) in 2017. The 31-year-old allowed 51 hits, 27 runs (24 earned) with 26 walks and 70 strikeouts. He also tallied 18 saves.

O'Day recorded two saves last season, going 2-3 with a 3.43 ERA in 64 games. Over 60 1/3 innings pitched, the righty allowed 41 hits, 24 runs (23 earned) and struck out 76 against 24 walks.

Givens, the youngest of the group at 27, went an impressive 8-1 with a 2.75 ERA in 69 games. Over 78 2/3 innings, he allowed 24 earned runs and struck out 88, with 24 walks.

Bleier was a pleasant surprise last season, as the 30-year-old went 2-1 with a 1.99 ERA in 57 games. Over 63 1/3 innings pitched, Bleier allowed 23 runs (only 14 earned) and struck out 26 with 13 walks.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Brad Brach, Zach Britton, Mychal Givens, Darren O'Day

Inbox: Any news on the Machado front?

Brittany Ghiroli answers Orioles fans' questions
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers fans' questions in the latest edition of Orioles Inbox.

Are the Orioles going to trade Manny Machado?
-- Scott L., Eldridge, Md.

Beat reporter Brittany Ghiroli answers fans' questions in the latest edition of Orioles Inbox.

Are the Orioles going to trade Manny Machado?
-- Scott L., Eldridge, Md.

Probably not. I get asked this several times a day, but I really don't have any kind of Machado update. (If I did, I'd write it.) There are some teams still interested. Nothing is imminent.

I've always thought if they didn't trade him by early January, they probably wouldn't unless a team with a deep system suffers an injury that makes paying the steep price for Machado doable. But that's purely my opinion. I wish I had more for you, I really do. But there's nothing to update. He's not on or off the proverbial trading block. The O's are still listening and not lowering their demands. They want controllable young pitching.

:: Submit a question to the Orioles Inbox ::

Why didn't the O's trade Machado last year at the Trade Deadline? They waited too long.
-- Tim L., Washington

Because they thought they were in it. Right or wrong, they were in Wild Card contention around that time. (Though certainly the case can be made that with their rotation, they weren't built for a deep playoff run.) They ended up adding a pair of players, much to most people's surprise.

Could they have gotten two Major League-ready arms for Machado if they dealt him in July? Ehhhh, maybe. The real time to trade him with serious value would have been last winter -- when he still had two years under control remaining -- but, again, the Orioles were intent on trying to compete. Hindsight is always 20-20.

Video: BAL@CLE: Schoop ties the game with an RBI single

Wouldn't it be wise to trade Jonathan Schoop now? If the Orioles don't, they'll be in the same situation with Schoop next year as they are with Machado this year.
-- Ron B.

That's definitely an interesting scenario, when you consider Schoop is coming off a career season and is headed into the second of three arbitration-eligible years.

There's been little talk of an extension for Schoop -- though there's plenty of it in the media -- because, quite frankly, now is the time. I agree with you in that if they wait another season, they run the risk of Schoop having no interest in staying because he's so close to free agency. If the Orioles want to lock him up long term, which they haven't done with a core piece, really, since Adam Jones in 2012, they have to get it done in the next few months.

If the O's fall out of contention early this year and become sellers at the Trade Deadline, what then? They have to decide whether he's a cornerstone of the organization for years to come. If the answer is yes, they need to negotiate now before his value goes up.

Will the O's ever add pitching?
-- Kim R., Norfolk, Va.

Yes. They have to. I know fans are impatient, but, to be fair, it's been a pretty slow offseason for everyone.

What kind of year should O's fans expect from Chris Davis?
-- Henry D., New York

A bounce-back one, if Davis has anything to say about it. The slugger is coming off a down year and has been brutally honest in assessing the fact that he needs to strike out less and make contact more. Of course, that's easier said than done, but Davis has been hitting since Christmas and made it a point this offseason to work on some things that will enable him to be more aggressive and more of a dual threat.

He's not going to all of a sudden become a high-on-base guy who lacks power, though. At the Major League level, it's hard to totally overhaul things. If Davis can make just small improvements with his strikeouts and batting average, it could go a long way toward balancing out the lineup.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

O's avoid arbitration with Machado, 4 others

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles avoided arbitration with several high-profile players on Friday, including All-Star infielder Manny Machado.

Machado agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract for next season -- his final before hitting free agency -- a source told MLB.com. The club also avoided arbitration with relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph

BALTIMORE -- The Orioles avoided arbitration with several high-profile players on Friday, including All-Star infielder Manny Machado.

Machado agreed to a one-year, $16 million contract for next season -- his final before hitting free agency -- a source told MLB.com. The club also avoided arbitration with relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach, infielder Tim Beckham and catcher Caleb Joseph

Machado and the O's were initially expected to be unable to agree to terms, but the two sides exchanged numbers after the 1 p.m. ET deadline and were able to get a deal done, sources told MLB.com's Mark Feinsand.

Machado was one of the highest-profile arbitration-eligible players this offseason and his name has been swirling in trade rumors all winter. He is expected to command a record-breaking contract when he reaches free agency and gets a nice raise from the $11.5 million he earned last season.

Britton, who was once thought to be potentially released due to an Achilles injury, settled for $12 million in his final year before free agency. Brach, who is also in his final year of arbitration, settled for $5.165 million.

Britton, who is recovering from surgery to repair a ruptured Achilles, still gets a slight raise from the $11.4 million he earned in 2017. Last season, the lefty was limited to 37 1/3 frames due to injury and is expected to miss most of the first half of the 2018 season. Brach earned $3.05 million last year.

Just Kevin Gausman and Jonathan Schoop remain unsigned. Traditionally if the Orioles can't reach an agreement by the deadline, they end up going to a hearing with the player. If they cannot settle, they will go to a hearing, in which a panel of arbitrators decides between the player and team's competing salary figures.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Manny Machado

O's bullpen looks to step up with Britton out

Brach to take over as closer with Givens as setup man
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- The bullpen, the Orioles' strength in recent years, will have to absorb the big loss of closer Zach Britton. Britton is expected to be out for at least the first few months of the season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon, which creates a ripple effect, moving Brad Brach to closer and Mychal Givens to setup man.

Fortunately for the duo, it's not foreign territory, as they both assumed those roles at various times last season when Britton was on the disabled list.

BALTIMORE -- The bullpen, the Orioles' strength in recent years, will have to absorb the big loss of closer Zach Britton. Britton is expected to be out for at least the first few months of the season due to a ruptured right Achilles tendon, which creates a ripple effect, moving Brad Brach to closer and Mychal Givens to setup man.

Fortunately for the duo, it's not foreign territory, as they both assumed those roles at various times last season when Britton was on the disabled list.

The O's 'pen, tasked with picking up a significant number of innings for the rotation in 2017, could still use some help. Executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette would like another lefty option, particularly since Donnie Hart struggled last year and will enter this spring fighting for a job.

Video: Ghiroli on Britton's ruptured Achilles tendon injury

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Brad Brach, RHP
Mychal Givens, RHP
Richard Bleier LHP
Darren O'Day RHP
Donnie Hart, LHP
Mike Wright, RHP

STRENGTH
Brach, Givens, O'Day and Bleier should be locks. Bleier was a pleasant surprise last season, and Brach-Givens is a solid 1-2 punch at the end of the game. O'Day also had a nice bounceback campaign after injuries limited him to 34 games in 2016. The O's should be able to get by without Britton to start the season and become an even deeper bullpen when he returns. Not many teams have a luxury of losing an All-Star closer and still boast a good 'pen.

QUESTION MARK
The other three spots. Some of this will depend on what happens in the rotation, as certain guys (such as Wright, for example) could go to the bullpen if they don't win a rotation spot. Hart will also have to prove he can hold his own in the Majors.

Stefan Crichton, Alec Asher, Miguel Castro, David Hess, Josh Edgin (a lefty the O's signed to a Minor League deal in November) could all factor in. So could pitching prospects such as Tanner Scott or Hunter Harvey later in the year. Once again, the Orioles will prioritize flexibility so they'll be able to make roster moves as needed without the potential of losing guys on the waiver wire.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Like the rotation, there's much work to be done here in the weeks before Spring Training. Expect the O's to sign more relievers, including some non-roster guys who could factor in. The competition for the second lefty could be interesting if they do indeed add a few more southpaws. And of course, there is no telling how long Baltimore will be without Britton this season.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Orioles have questions in their rotation

Club likely to seek reinforcements to complement Bundy, Gausman
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Fortunately for the Orioles (and many teams around Major League Baseball), the season doesn't start today. The O's still have significant holes to fill in their rotation, and they are actively exploring ways to add at least a pair of pitchers -- preferably at least one lefty to balance out the rotation. Though as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said, they won't add a lefty just to do it; it has to be an upgrade over the right-handed options they are looking at.

Internally, the Orioles used a rotating cast in September to try to get a look at some different guys heading into this year's camp. Only Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will enter Spring Training with rotation spots, with the other three anyone's guess at this point, depending on who the team adds and who emerges this spring. (The final three names below Gausman are pure guesswork at this point.)

BALTIMORE -- Fortunately for the Orioles (and many teams around Major League Baseball), the season doesn't start today. The O's still have significant holes to fill in their rotation, and they are actively exploring ways to add at least a pair of pitchers -- preferably at least one lefty to balance out the rotation. Though as executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette has said, they won't add a lefty just to do it; it has to be an upgrade over the right-handed options they are looking at.

Internally, the Orioles used a rotating cast in September to try to get a look at some different guys heading into this year's camp. Only Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will enter Spring Training with rotation spots, with the other three anyone's guess at this point, depending on who the team adds and who emerges this spring. (The final three names below Gausman are pure guesswork at this point.)

Video: Pitching thin O's eyeing an ace at top of rotation

Gabriel Ynoa, Miguel Castro, Alec Asher, Mike Wright, Jayson Aquino and Rule 5 Draft pick Nestor Cortes are among those who will be looked at as starters (though others can and likely will be stretched out at the start of camp).

MLB.com is taking a look at the projected rotation of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the O's might stack up:

ROTATION IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Dylan Bundy, RHP
Kevin Gausman, RHP
Gabriel Ynoa, RHP
Miguel Castro, RHP
Alec Asher, RHP

STRENGTH
Bundy was one of the most consistent pitchers in the American League the first two months of the season and Gausman -- who got off to a rocky start -- showed signs of getting back to his old self. Should both of them take a step forward in 2018, the Orioles can at least feel good about the pair of homegrown arms.

QUESTION MARK
Everything else. Those three blank spots loom large, but while Baltimore isn't the only team that hasn't added pitching in a slow market, Duquette has said that the O's have to act quicker this offseason. So far, that hasn't been the case.

It will take an enticing offer to get a quality free-agent pitcher to choose the AL East (and hitter-friendly Camden Yards). The Orioles didn't receive the results they were hoping for from their last big offer to a free-agent arm in Ubaldo Jimenez, and part of the reason the Manny Machado trade rumors have dragged on so long is because the O's would be much better served acquiring starting pitching via a trade. (Though none of the proposed potential offers have met the Orioles' requirements in that regard.)

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Hopefully, a lot. The group below Gausman and Bundy should be competing for one spot, meaning the Orioles need to sign at least two viable starters before Spring Training. That should foster at least some competition for the final spot and give the O's some badly-needed depth in Triple-A. Make no mistake: if Baltimore is going to compete this year, it will need to produce better results from the rotation.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

O's enter '18 with another power-laden lineup

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE-- While the Orioles have their work cut out for them still when it comes to acquiring pitching, there doesn't figure to be a lot of major lineup changes next season. Yes, Manny Machado -- who wants to move to shortstop -- could complicate things if he changes positions or is traded. (Though the latter seems less and less likely as the offseason continues.)

The Orioles would like to add a left-handed bat to bring more balance to the lineup. And there's always the need to add more of an on-base capability (something they've been unable to achieve past few seasons). By and large, though, the Orioles' lineup is pretty much set.

BALTIMORE-- While the Orioles have their work cut out for them still when it comes to acquiring pitching, there doesn't figure to be a lot of major lineup changes next season. Yes, Manny Machado -- who wants to move to shortstop -- could complicate things if he changes positions or is traded. (Though the latter seems less and less likely as the offseason continues.)

The Orioles would like to add a left-handed bat to bring more balance to the lineup. And there's always the need to add more of an on-base capability (something they've been unable to achieve past few seasons). By and large, though, the Orioles' lineup is pretty much set.

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Tim Beckham, SS
Jonathan Schoop, 2B
Manny Machado, 3B
Adam Jones, CF
Trey Mancini, LF
Chris Davis,1B
Mark Trumbo, DH
Chance Sisco, C
Austin Hays, RF

STRENGTH
Home runs. The Orioles hit a lot of them, finishing fifth in the Majors last season with 232. When it's going well, Baltimore's power-laden lineup is a lethal threat, particularly at hitter-friendly Camden Yards.

Video: Must C Classic: Manny rips trio of HRs, walk-off slam

QUESTION MARK
Davis and Trumbo are both coming off down seasons offensively and there's no telling what the Orioles are going to get out of rookie backstop Sisco. Caleb Joseph, the team's other catcher entering camp, bounced back at the plate in 2017 and is another option to be in the everyday lineup (or to potentially platoon with Sisco).

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
Machado moving to shortstop would, as mentioned above, throw a wrench into things. Where to play Beckham? And who would play third? There would be a ripple effect and the O's could have several people playing out of position as a result. With a defense that struggled last year -- an area manager Buck Showalter wanted to improve -- that's not ideal.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010.

 

Baltimore Orioles

Hard-working Davis focused on adjustments

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is ready to put 2017 behind him. Davis, who began training for the upcoming season around Christmastime, is approaching this year with a new outlook and is determined to more of a complete hitter.

"The strikeouts have continued to climb and the average has continued to drop," Davis said Monday morning on MLB Network. "Last year, I had way too many called strikes. Called third strikes. Way too many counts where I was taking two strikes before I ever took a swing. For me, it's a matter of being a little too passive or too picky and not trying to capitalize on the pitches early in the count."

BALTIMORE -- Orioles first baseman Chris Davis is ready to put 2017 behind him. Davis, who began training for the upcoming season around Christmastime, is approaching this year with a new outlook and is determined to more of a complete hitter.

"The strikeouts have continued to climb and the average has continued to drop," Davis said Monday morning on MLB Network. "Last year, I had way too many called strikes. Called third strikes. Way too many counts where I was taking two strikes before I ever took a swing. For me, it's a matter of being a little too passive or too picky and not trying to capitalize on the pitches early in the count."

The slugger, who in September requested a meeting with local media in which he shouldered much of the lineup blame and vowed to combat his strikeouts, reiterated those points Monday morning. Davis, who was on his way to the first of two offseason workout sessions, said a lot of what has changed is the way the opposition aligns when he's at the plate.

"A lot of it is just the shift. I've been shifted since -- I can remember -- 2011, I think, was probably the year it was the most consistent throughout teams," Davis said. "The last couple years I've tried so hard to try to hit against the shift, to play that game with them, that I got away from who I was."

Davis called it a "cat-and-mouse game" that has burned him at the plate. He had a career year in 2013, in which he hit 53 homers with 138 RBIs to go with a .286 batting average (and 199 strikeouts over 160 games) In '16 -- the first year of a club record, seven-year, $161 million contract -- Davis hit 38 homers with 84 RBIs while batting .221 with a career-high 219 strikeouts. Last year, he played in 128 games and hit 26 homers with 61 RBIs, batting .215 with 195 strikeouts.

Davis, who lives in Texas in the offseason, was set to do some running drills on Monday morning, followed by a session in the weight room.

"As I've grown older, I've learned a lot and feel pretty good about my training regimen now," Davis said.

As for hitting?

"I'll hit four times a week, sometimes five times a week," Davis said. "I've learned over the years more is not better, especially when it comes to your swing."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles

O's, Yanks reportedly discussed Machado

MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have said that they are comfortable going forward with a pair of rookies in their infield, but general manager Brian Cashman also appears to be keeping one eye trained on the ongoing situation with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Though the likelihood of a deal remains less than great for several reasons, the Yankees spoke again with Baltimore this week concerning the three-time All-Star, according to a report by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees haven't commented on the report.

NEW YORK -- The Yankees have said that they are comfortable going forward with a pair of rookies in their infield, but general manager Brian Cashman also appears to be keeping one eye trained on the ongoing situation with Orioles third baseman Manny Machado.

Though the likelihood of a deal remains less than great for several reasons, the Yankees spoke again with Baltimore this week concerning the three-time All-Star, according to a report by MLB Network insider Jon Heyman. The Yankees haven't commented on the report.

Machado can be a free agent after the 2018 season and is not expected to sign an extension with the Orioles, which has made the 25-year-old one of the most intriguing names on the trade market this offseason.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Yankees would have to part with some of the top talent in their loaded farm system if they were to convince Baltimore owner Peter Angelos to deal Machado within the American League East, but they are also one of the few teams who could match up for such a trade.

The White Sox were said to have made a considerable offer for Machado during last month's Winter Meetings. The Cardinals, Cubs, D-backs, Phillies and Red Sox have also been linked to the two-time Gold Glove Award winner, for whom Baltimore is said to be seeking a pair of controllable starting pitchers.

Video: MLB Tonight discusses how Yankees can acquire Machado

Cashman's December moves created a pair of vacancies in the Yankees infield. Second baseman Starlin Castro was moved to the Marlins as part of the Giancarlo Stanton trade and third baseman Chase Headley's salary was offloaded to the Padres, providing more latitude to keep payroll under the $197 million threshold in an effort to reset their luxury tax rate.

While Cashman has said that he is not ready to anoint starters at second base and third base, the team considers Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres as being close to big league ready. Andujar played winter ball in the Dominican Republic and Torres, rated the game's No. 2 prospect by MLB Pipeline, is expected to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery in time for Spring Training.

Video: Morosi breaks down market for Moustakas, Frazier

Other internal options include Thairo Estrada, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade. The Yankees have also spoken with the Pirates regarding infielder Josh Harrison and have been in contact with the agent for free agent Todd Frazier, who hit .222/.365/.423 with 11 homers and 32 RBIs in 66 games after being acquired by New York last July. Mike Moustakas and Eduardo Nunez are also free agents.

Even so, few players carry the same appeal as Machado, who hit .259/.310/.471 with 33 homers and 95 RBIs in 156 games for the Orioles last season. His name has been mentioned often in the Bronx over the last several years, and the Yankees are expected to be among Machado's most ardent suitors in an impressive free-agent class next offseason that could also see Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper on the move. 

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees, Manny Machado

Orioles looking for stability in outfield

Hays could play a more prominent role in 2018
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

With the start of Spring Training just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the 2018 season. MLB.com is going around horn to break down each area of the Orioles, starting today with the outfielders.

The Orioles' outfield came under a fair amount of scrutiny in 2017. For a long time, the club had Adam Jones in center field and Nick Markakis entrenched in right. But since Markakis' departure after the 2014 season, it's seemed like a revolving door on both sides of Jones as the O's tried to make different pieces fit.

With the start of Spring Training just a few weeks away, anticipation is building for the 2018 season. MLB.com is going around horn to break down each area of the Orioles, starting today with the outfielders.

The Orioles' outfield came under a fair amount of scrutiny in 2017. For a long time, the club had Adam Jones in center field and Nick Markakis entrenched in right. But since Markakis' departure after the 2014 season, it's seemed like a revolving door on both sides of Jones as the O's tried to make different pieces fit.

Last season, they had rookie Trey Mancini step up and assume an everyday role in left field, which added some badly needed stability to the mix. Mancini, who moved from first base, helped give Jones some familiarity on one side with a rotating case in right that included Seth Smith, Mark Trumbo, Joey Rickard, and September callup Austin Hays.

Mancini finished third in the American League Rookie of the Year Award voting and proved to be a serviceable fielder who should only get better with more time in the outfield.

With Jones entering the final year of his contract, the outfield is an interesting position to examine. The thought is Jones will eventually move to a corner outfield spot, though manager Buck Showalter said that isn't a conversation he thinks he needs to have with Jones just yet.

Jones batted .285 with 26 home runs in 147 games. Defensive metrics suggest his fielding has dipped some in the past two years. According to FanGraphs, Jones posted a minus-10 DRS (defensive runs saved) in 2016 and a minus-12 mark in 2017.

Video: BAL@MIN: Statcast™ measures Jones' two home runs

Hays was a bright spot in a small sample in right field, and heading into Spring Training he appears to be a frontrunner for the spot. A third-round Draft pick in 2016, Hays moved quickly last season. He began the season at Class A Advanced Frederick and ended it in Baltimore. He hit .329 with a .958 OPS (on base plus slugging percentage) between Frederick and Double-A Bowie and is considered to be an above-average defender. Hays showcased his arm in his brief time with the O's and held his own at the plate.

Hays also has the ability to back up Jones in center, a move that could help spell the veteran outfielder and keep Jones healthier down the stretch.

Switch-hitting Anthony Santander, selected in the 2016 Rule 5 Draft, is another possibility.

Santander was hurt most of last season. so he will need to spend the first month and a half on the active roster before he's eligible to be optioned to the Minor Leagues. The O's still like Santander's bat -- he hits .267 in 13 games with Baltimore -- though it remains to be seen if he can hold his own defensively in the Major Leagues.

Rickard and Trumbo are returning players and could see some time in right, and there's always the possibility the Orioles add an external option this winter. One of their priorities this offseason is adding a left-handed bat and executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette mentioned at last month's Winter Meetings that it very could come in the form of an outfielder.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Austin Hays, Adam Jones, Trey Mancini

Bundy flashed potential in '17, looks to build

Right-hander could prove critical to Orioles' success
MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Much of the Orioles' offseason shopping revolves around upgrading the starting rotation. And while the O's have good reason to seek those upgrades, with just two spots secured entering Spring Training, what was often overshadowed by the rest of the rotation was the year Dylan Bundy had.

Make no mistake, Baltimore needs to get starting pitching -- front-line, top-of-the-rotation arms. But Bundy showed glimpses of what his true potential could be in 2017 -- his first full season in a Major League rotation -- and his ascent will be critical in assessing the Orioles' postseason chances.

BALTIMORE -- Much of the Orioles' offseason shopping revolves around upgrading the starting rotation. And while the O's have good reason to seek those upgrades, with just two spots secured entering Spring Training, what was often overshadowed by the rest of the rotation was the year Dylan Bundy had.

Make no mistake, Baltimore needs to get starting pitching -- front-line, top-of-the-rotation arms. But Bundy showed glimpses of what his true potential could be in 2017 -- his first full season in a Major League rotation -- and his ascent will be critical in assessing the Orioles' postseason chances.

Bundy -- who, along with Kevin Gausman, will be penciled into the 2018 rotation -- was a bit of a question mark last spring. After all, he had spent half of the previous season in the bullpen, promoted more out of need and a bit more quickly than the O's would have preferred.

No one was sure how long Baltimore would take him into the season and how Bundy would hold up. While he certainly showed signs of tiring down the stretch, the 25-year-old was dominant the first two months, going 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA in his first five starts and 6-3 with a 2.89 ERA in his first 11 games.

Perhaps no game showed Bundy's potential more than Aug. 29 against the Mariners. He threw a one-hit shutout with 12 strikeouts and just two walks. It was pure dominance and one of the highlights in his 28-start season.

Video: SEA@BAL: Watch Bundy's 12 K's in 12 seconds

Part of that late-season spike was due to extra rest the Orioles tried to give the young righty down the stretch. Bundy's ERA dropped from 4.68 (13 starts) on regular rest to 2.68 with six or more days' rest (six starts). It's a small sample size, but an interesting trend that could allow the righty to stay fresh longer and deeper into the regular season

Still, Bundy led the O's rotation in wins (13) and ERA (4.24), and he was second in innings (169 2/3) and strikeouts (152) behind Gausman. Bundy used a slider that was shelved the previous year more than 22 percent of the time, according to Statcast™, one of the highest percentages in the American League and one that trailed only his four-seam fastball.

Video: Jim Duquette talks expectations for Bundy, Mancini

Yes, Bundy's velocity was down a tick from previous years, but his fastball stayed consistent until the end of the season, prompting the Orioles to give him extra rest and ultimately shut him down after lasting 4 1/3 innings against Boston on Sept. 18.

Perhaps it is unrealistic for Bundy, who had Tommy John surgery while in the Minor Leagues, to be a 32-start, 200-inning pitcher year in, year out. Only time will tell. But there's no reason he can't physically withstand the rigors of an entire Major League season, continue to improve and easily surpass the 180-innings mark in 2018.

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Dylan Bundy

5 questions O's will need to answer in 2018

MLB.com @Britt_Ghiroli

BALTIMORE -- Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will be the first to say it: 2018 is an important year on many levels for Baltimore. The club is facing some big personnel decisions -- on and off the field -- and a tough task in the reloaded Yankees and the reigning division-champion Red Sox.

As the calendar officially flips to 2018, let's take a look at the top five questions for the Orioles heading into the new year.

BALTIMORE -- Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette will be the first to say it: 2018 is an important year on many levels for Baltimore. The club is facing some big personnel decisions -- on and off the field -- and a tough task in the reloaded Yankees and the reigning division-champion Red Sox.

As the calendar officially flips to 2018, let's take a look at the top five questions for the Orioles heading into the new year.

1. Will they trade any big players?
Manny Machado's name floated through the halls at the Winter Meetings. There's a ton of interest in Zach Britton, Brad Brach and Mychal Givens. Will Duquette pull the trigger on a deal and try to rebuild the organization for the future? Or will the club let Machado, who has one year left on his contract, play it out in Baltimore? Of course another question regarding the infielder is where will he play next season: third base or shortstop?

Video: Must C Classic: Manny rips trio of HRs, walk-off slam

2. Who will be the new additions to the Orioles' rotation?
It's no secret the O's rotation struggled last year. And they've made it priority No. 1 to acquire two starting pitchers this offseason to put into their rotation. There's little chance the Orioles will acquire a top arm, and their preference is to not sign deals longer than three years with any free-agent pitcher. They're going to add some pitching. But will those guys be enough to turn things around?

3. How will rookie catcher Chance Sisco fare?
With Welington Castillo electing free agency, Sisco will be on the Orioles' Opening Day roster and handle catching duties along with Caleb Joseph. While Sisco has made some defensive strides, there's still work to be done based on how he did (albeit in a small sample size) in September. It's early, but his bat looks as advertised. A lot of eyes will be on Sisco this spring, as he has to be able to show he can help lead a pitching staff that will be vital to the Orioles' success.

Video: Showalter gives update on Sisco's development

4. How do Duquette and manager Buck Showalter navigate things in their final contract year?
It's not just Machado, Britton and Adam Jones who are facing free agency. The Orioles' organization is at a crossroads and no one knows for sure how things will end up. (Though Showalter did say at the Winter Meetings he'd like to manage the Orioles beyond '18.) Still, big decisions loom.

5. Can the Orioles compete with the Red Sox and Yankees in 2018?
The Yankees have already made a big splash in landing Giancarlo Stanton. Boston and New York are hungry for winners and have first-year managers. Media pundits are already writing the AL East off as a two-horse race. Can the Orioles hang with the two divisional behemoths?

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles