Officials from the Baltimore Orioles left Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings Thursday with 10 “legitimate offers” for all-star third baseman Manny Machado, according to USA Today national baseball writer Bob Nightengale.
None of them came from the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Cardinals confirmed their interest in Machado, but apparently have backed away from making a formal offer since the Orioles denied teams a 72-hour window in which they could negotiate a contract extension with his agents.
Machado, though just 24 years old, has played six seasons in the big leagues and will be a free agent at the end of 2018. He’s expected to test the market and seek a contract worth upward of $350 to $400 million.
Machado is a .279 hitter who averages 29 home runs and 86 RBIs per season and has won two Gold Gloves at third base, though he has said he would prefer to play his natural position, shortstop. He’ll turn 25 just before the next All-Star break.
The Chicago White Sox — who have seven prospects in Baseball America’s Top 100 — reportedly made the most aggressive push to acquire Machado. However, their trade offer didn’t include any of their top prospects, according to Nightengale, because the Orioles denied a negotiating period. Two White Sox executives told Nightengale their offer was based on the assumption they would have him for only one season.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, already have made strides to add power to the middle of their lineup. Their trade for Miami Marlins outfielder Marcell Ozuna was made official Thursday once the slugger passed his team physical.
Manager Mike Matheny said Tuesday, once word of the Ozuna trade broke Thursday, the Cardinals expected more player moves, including the possiblility of another big bat.
General Manager Mike Girsch had said it wasn’t likely the organization would “go down that road” of sacrificing top prospects for a potential one-year rental, like Machado. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic and multiple other national writers, however, reported Tuesday that the Cardinals continue to press the Toronto Blue Jays about the availability of third baseman Josh Donaldson.
Donaldson, 32, hit .270 with 33 home runs, 78 RBIs, and .385 on-base percentage in 2017. The 2015 American League MVP also will be a free agent at the end of the coming season. Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports has reported, however, that Toronto has “no intention” of trading Donaldson.
The Cardinals are expected to continue their pursuit of a closer and have been tied to talks with the Tampa Bay Rays about Alex Colome, who led the AL with 47 saves last season. It has been speculated that a deal with the Rays could also include third baseman Evan Longoria.
Other available slugging third baseman include Kansas City free agent Mike Moustakas, 28, who averages 23 home runs and 73 RBIs per 162 games. But he’s a Scott Boras client and could be expensive.