Machado says heart is at shortstop, staying there could impact free agent decision
Manny Machado is entering his first year as a big-league shortstop, but his heart wants what it wants
This is a year of great significance for Manny Machado. Machado will qualify for free agency come the winter, meaning this is likely his final go-around with the Baltimore Orioles. It's also his first season as an everyday shortstop, having previously played the position in just 52 games.
Machado, for his part, is confident the position swap is going to work -- so confident, in fact, that he said on Saturday he wants to remain at shortstop heading forward, and that the ability to do so will help determine where he lands this offseason. Here's the full gist of Machado's comments, via Baltimore Sun beat writer Eduardo A. Encina:
It's worth noting that Machado isn't a total newbie to playing shortstop. He was one coming up through the minors, appearing in more than 200 games there before the Orioles brought him to the majors and installed him at the corner. He's remained there since 2012, and is considered one of the best third-base defenders in the game due in part to his strong, accurate arm.
Presuming Machado opts for a team who lets him stay at shortstop, that could well affect his market. For instance, the Los Angeles Dodgers would make sense for Machado as a third baseman -- he could slot in alongside Corey Seager -- but would have to ask Seager to move to third if they intended to bring in Machado as their new shortstop. Perhaps the Dodgers and Seager would each be willing to do that, but it's no given. A team like the Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, could benefit from Machado's preference -- he would replace Addison Russell, who could be dealt to upgrade another position or to replenish the farm system.
Obviously that's all speculation at this point, and it's possible that Machado finds himself in love with the third-base position if the team with the biggest offer on the table wants him back at the hot corner. For now, though, it's an interesting nugget to keep in mind as baseball hurls toward a loaded free-agent class that could also include Bryce Harper and Clayton Kershaw.
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