Manny Machado got off to a dismal start to 2017, batting .205/.286/.405 over the first two months of the campaign. However, all the underlying numbers said a rebound was imminent, and sure enough, he came on strong down the stretch. While his walk rate fell to just 5.8 percent after the All-Star break, Machado made more consistent contact (13.2 percent strikeout rate) and that helped him hit .290 and slug .500 in the second half. He slashed just .229/.268/.398 away from Camden Yards for the year, but Machado hit on the road the previous two seasons (.289/.345/.523 in 2016 and .282/.351/.465 in 2015), so it seems likely that 2017 will end up being the outlier with that particular split. While the 25-year-old has lost shortstop eligibility, he could regain it in-season. His price will likely be depressed more than it should coming off a down season. Buy in bulk.
According to manager Buck Showalter, Machado will begin the season as the Orioles' starting shortstop while Tim Beckham moves to the hot corner, Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports reports. Machado will move back to his "natural position" and although he lost shortstop eligibility for fantasy leagues heading into this campaign, he will regain it during the season. The 25-year-old recently avoided arbitration a couple weeks ago on a one-year, $16 million deal and should be primed for a big year after an impressive second half in 2017.
Machado agreed to a one-year, $16 million deal with Baltimore on Friday, avoiding arbitration, Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports. This marks the final offseason as an arbitration-eligible player for Machado, who will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2018 campaign. Currently, the third baseman has been involved in trade rumors all winter, following a 2017 season that saw him slash .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs and 95 RBI, even after a rough start to the year. No matter what jersey he's wearing come the spring, expect Machado to be a top-tier fantasy performer yet again.
Machado has been the subject of multiple trade offers with the White Sox's bid being the best the Orioles have received, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports. Machado can be a free agent following the 2018 season and is expected to break some team's bank. The White Sox have plenty of top prospects to offer and need a third baseman. They are a young team still early in a rebuilding window, but the addition of Machado, who has averaged 29 homers and 86 RBI while winning two Gold Gloves over the past five years, would accelerate their competitiveness in 2018.
Machado went 1-for-4 with a two-run homer in Thursday's 3-1 win over the Rays. Machado's two-run shot in the first inning made it 2-0 before Rays starter Matt Andriese could record a single out. The star slugger was almost kept out of the lineup due to an illness, but manager Buck Showalter's decision to dress Machado paid off big time in what ended as a two-run victory. While a slow start had the infielder slashing just .238/.306/.426 back on July 29, Machado's season line is up to .264/.318/.487 now.
Machado (illness) is in the lineup, but could be scratched following a pregame workout as manager Buck Shower said he's only "50-50" to play Thursday against Tampa Bay, Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com. Although Machado was initially plugged into Baltimore's lineup, it appears as though it's up in the air as to whether he will actually stay there. The third baseman missed Wednesday's game due to an illness, but is hitting second at his normal position for Thursday's contest. There will likely be an update regarding his status within the next hour.