LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Buck Showalter has been with the Orioles longer than all but three current managers have been with their teams.
And he hopes his tenure will continue next year.
Speaking to reporters during his scheduled media session Tuesday, Showalter, whose contract expires in 2018, was asked whether he wanted to manage the Orioles in 2019.
“Sure, sure,” said Showalter, who has managed the team since Aug. 2010.
Both Showalter and executive vice president Dan Duquette are without contracts next season, and they aren’t the only ones. An important core of players – third baseman Manny Machado, relievers Zach Britton and Brad Brach and center fielder Adam Jones – are all free agents after this upcoming season.
“Coaches and managers, to some extent, trainers, players, there’s a lot more people on our club, every club, that don’t know what … life and the season and the game has in store for them the next year,” Showalter said. “It’s an honor every day that I get a chance to do this. And, as I get older, I realize how lucky I am, even more. So, where life and baseball takes me I’ll deal with it another time. Right now, my focus is on the 2018 season and see if we can get back competing.”
Showalter said he didn’t think that the uncertainty facing the 2019 season is a major detriment in acquiring players this year — at least as far he knows.
“It may not be a positive, but at the end of the day, in our situation, I think we can out-opportunity a lot of people, especially in the pitching department. And that’s what people want, they want an opportunity,” he said. “Those are the people that we have to kind of focus on, that that means something to them regardless of the division or necessarily what the roster may look like.”
Much of Showalter’s session centered on the Orioles’ 25-year-old superstar Manny Machado, trade rumors swirling around him and the possibility of Machado switching from third base to shortstop for the Orioles in 2018. Showalter said Machado has always expressed an interest in playing shortstop – that’s nothing new – but the club had veteran J.J. Hardy in that spot. Hardy is a free agent and almost certainly isn’t returning; Tim Beckham had been penciled in as the starting shortstop for 2018.
“To say that Manny and I haven’t had conversations about it over the years, I wouldn’t be truthful. I think you guys know that I try to have guys hear from me about things, whether it be Tim or whether it be Manny or whether it be a Ryan Flaherty or Chris Davis about something, anybody,” Showalter said. “Obviously, we’re not there yet. …Manny’s capable of playing both real well. And I think so is Tim.”
A determination has not been made, but Showalter said he knows which way he is leaning at this point. Machado’s value would obviously increase on the open market if he were a shortstop – and he may be a better defender at the spot than Beckham.
Showalter was also asked about the possibility of the Orioles trading Machado.
“I’m not involved in a lot of that, what’s really going on. That’s Dan’s situation and Dan’s prerogative and his communication with people. When it gets to the end, I’m kind of like what if something happens? What are you going to do?” Showalter said. “But if there’s something that’s going to change drastically the construction of our roster, then I’m sure I’ll be brought into it.”
Showalter also said that Adam Jones will continue to be his center fielder in 2018 and that Austin Hays has a chance to be on the Opening Day roster, but that’s not a guarantee.