Showalter confirms: Manny Machado will be moving to shortstop in 2018 - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Paul Folkemer

Showalter confirms: Manny Machado will be moving to shortstop in 2018

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

Orioles’ manager Buck Showalter officially confirmed at FanFest what had been rumored for months: Manny Machado will be switching positions in 2018.

“He’s going to play shortstop,” Showalter said.

Machado has played primarily third base since the Orioles promoted him to the majors in August 2012, starting 715 games at the hot corner compared to 49 at short. He last played shortstop in 2016, when he filled in for 45 games while J.J. Hardy was injured.

Machado, though, was almost exclusively a shortstop during his minor league career, making all but four of his 206 starts at that position.

With the departure of the three-time Gold Glover Hardy, who is currently an unsigned free agent, Showalter decided the time was right to move Machado back to his original position.

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“We’ve been talking about it for a while,” Showalter said. “By all indications, talking to people who have seen him and everything, he’s really excited about this. I can’t imagine him being in a better frame of mind or physically set up to do this. I think out of his respect for J.J. the last few years, obviously, 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.

“I feel pretty confident. There’s a whole bunch of want-to with him at shortstop.”

Tim Beckham, who was the Orioles’ starting shortstop last August and September after he was acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays, will likely be switching places with Machado on the left side of the infield.

“Probably third base,” Showalter said of Beckham’s 2018 role. “I’ve talked to Tim some. We’re going to shake it out. I think Tim is capable of playing third base. We’ll see. But there could be some adjustments down the spring. Maybe we don’t like the feel of it or whatever, but that’s where we’re going to head into it. There’s a chance that we could adjust from there, but I’ve talked to Manny and Tim about it, and we think it’s our best setup right now.”

Beckham has only five career starts at third base, and none since 2016. The Orioles, though, never seemed completely comfortable with his defense at shortstop. He committed nine errors in 49 games for the Orioles last season. He struggled with his consistency, showing he was capable of making athletic plays but sometimes botching routine ones.

The timing of Machado’s shift to short might raise some eyebrows, considering that 2018 is his final season under contract with the Orioles before he’s eligible for free agency. His name has also been bandied about in trade rumors for much of the offseason.

For now, though, the Orioles are moving forward as if Machado will be with the club for at least the start of the 2018 season. Showalter likes the setup of his infield with Machado at shortstop and Beckham at third rather than the other way around.

“Manny’s basically played shortstop in the shift for three or four years,” Showalter said. “I think we’re moving Manny back to his natural position. And Tim’s been playing a lot of places. So I know how important Manny is to our team, and I think he can be the most impactful there, especially with the loss of J.J. … We have some challenges there without J.J., and I think Manny is our best option.”

If Machado shows he can excel at shortstop, it could increase his value in free agency next winter — or perhaps increase his trade value if the Orioles decide to deal him during the 2018 season.

“I think he’s bound to have a great year for us,” Showalter said. “All the stars are aligned as good as they can be. He understands that when you’re a good player. He knows what’s going on. He’s going to do well in his career. We’d like for it to be here. If it’s not, it’s just the lay of the land.”

19 Comments

19 Comments

  1. plucknstrum

    January 27, 2018 at 3:31 pm

    C’mon O’s. Between now and spring training offer Manny 8yrs./240mm with an opt–out after year 4 or 5. See if he’ll bite. If he doesn’t then at least you can tell the fan base you tried.

    • thebookdoc

      January 28, 2018 at 8:07 am

      It isn’t a bad idea as far as risking a big contract goes. i’m honestly guessing that he is not getting more than that unless he hits 50 and bats 300 this year.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:37 pm

      Just doesn’t make sense for him to bite. Why not see whats out there with one season to play. Not much of a gamble anymore. It’s almost 100 percent certain at 26 he could get what you are suggesting next winter even if he has a down year.

  2. bickel57

    January 27, 2018 at 3:37 pm

    Bad move. He is on the way out don’t need to give in to him. Beckham is not that bad of shortstop. I don’t think you are going to get more when you trade him by playing at short.

    • thebookdoc

      January 28, 2018 at 8:12 am

      I really doubt that was giving in. If I was manager I’d do exactly the same thing as I’ve mentioned. Give Manny more of the field. Capitalize on Beckham’s ability to do the hard plays by moving him 28 feet closer to the batter. Watch it be brilliant.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:38 pm

      And if he’s good, Machado’s trade stock increases in July as a SS/3B

  3. willmiranda

    January 27, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Another shoe has to drop. Beckham at third and Machado at short is untenable. We have dropped way down the ranks of third basemen and have not gone to the top of shortstops. If Beckham is not a starting shortstop, he is overpaid.

    • thebookdoc

      January 28, 2018 at 8:15 am

      So…Manny getting 17 mil to play third is OK, but Beckham getting 3.3 mil is “untenable”?? I don’t think you were thinking when you typed.

      • willmiranda

        January 29, 2018 at 11:38 am

        Thanks, Doc, for the feedback and invitation to clarify. I offer two opinions. First: the Machado SS/ Beckham 3B combo is not a long-term, or sustainable, arrangement; therefore, untenable. Second: while Beckham’s salary is reasonable for a starting shortstop, it is less so for a utility infielder, which he has now, I believe, become by this move. I may well be wrong; all opinions can’t be right, but that’s why it’s fun to exchange them.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      Absolutely fun to exchange. And always appreciate everyone being cordial and respectful here. My two cents: I don’t think Beckham is being viewed as a utility guy now. I think he is your starting 3Bman — at least until he proves he can’t handle it.

  4. Wade Warren

    January 27, 2018 at 5:23 pm

    sign Moustakas Flaretty and send both Manny and Schoop on their merry way

  5. Wade Warren

    January 27, 2018 at 5:32 pm

    is this the Orioles choice to move Manny to ss or is it to appease Manny. to me it is wrong thing to do letting a player dictate where he will play and Beckham at 3rd isn’t going to work. I don’t like the direction Manny and Schoop with their attitudes is taking the club

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:40 pm

      I think it is a little bit of both.

  6. bigdaddydk

    January 28, 2018 at 7:15 am

    It takes a long time for a player to adjust to a new position, or one he hasn’t played in a while. When Manny played SS previously in the majors, he looked average to me. If we move him at the deadline, what we’ve done is weakened our own team to acclimate him to a “new” position for someone else. This has all the looks of placating a prima donna, and it doesn’t rest well with me. I know the word is that Manny requested the shift, but it seems like he’s putting himself before the team and I don’t like that. He’s becoming harder to root for as an individual, even though I’ll certainly root for him for the sake of the team.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:42 pm

      He’s always wanted to be a SS in majors. He wasn’t going to usurp Hardy. With Hardy gone, he wants the chance. He could be as good as or better than Beckham. I get the reasoning.

  7. thebookdoc

    January 28, 2018 at 8:22 am

    I don’t know what any of you are talking about except the writer. My guess is you all eat your negativity. The more room you give Manny to take balls in play, the more balls turn to outs. Beckham is an athlete, and he’ll adjust fine…He might even be better at third. You think he won’t take tips from Manny and learn to up his game?

    I may be the only one who doesn’t think it is a conspiracy, and I really like the idea. Hahaha…it was mine 😉

    • Sjcolmus

      January 28, 2018 at 11:43 am

      If this is such a strategic boon and not just placating Manny for as long as he’s here, then why didn’t anyone tell Beckham about it before Friday so he could have been working at 3B all offseason? This is just messy as hell.

      • thebookdoc

        January 28, 2018 at 11:57 am

        Well, that Showalter said he’d been talking to Beckham about it sorta suggests…and I’m going out on a limb here…that he talked to him about it. They didn’t know if Manny would be around, so what was the point of announcing anything? Have you played the game? It doesn’t take centuries of study to learn a position. There might be fine points about how to be most efficient and footwork and all…but the guy is an athlete, enthusiastic, and in no way a mess. Machado probably didn’t want to do it, but he did and eventually got back to SS. Guess what could happen for Beckham.

    • Dan Connolly

      January 29, 2018 at 12:46 pm

      Showalter made a point in December that he has already talked to Beckham on more than one occasion. I think what he meant by Friday was that’s when he was given final word it was going to happen. But this had been discussed for months. I expected it. I’m sure Beckham did by December.

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