Machado and Schoop say all the right things as they arrive at Orioles' camp in Sarasota - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Spring Training

Machado and Schoop say all the right things as they arrive at Orioles’ camp in Sarasota

Photo credit: Joy R. Absalon

SARASOTA Fla. — Manny Machado arrived at the Orioles’ training facility this morning, and walked around the clubhouse exchanging hugs with teammates old and new.

Machado, who had been the subject of trade talks after December’s Winter Meetings, was laughing and joking. He later took the field for some batting practice and took ground balls from infield coach Bobby Dickerson at his new position – and the one he wants to play for the remainder of his career: shortstop.

“It’s my natural position, that’s where I think I can be the best at,” Machado said. “It’s not really something about — I know a lot of the talk has been [about] ‘Oh, is he going to be worth more there? More money.’ It’s not about the money. It’s not about going out there and signing a 20-year deal.”

Machado has started 49 games at shortstop since coming to the Orioles, 43 in 2016, and six in 2015 — when J.J. Hardy was hurt.

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Manager Buck Showalter thinks that Machado will excel at shortstop, and perhaps be equally adept there as he was at third base.

“He needs a new challenge, I think. I think he prospers off that,” Showalter said. “I think he’s really engaged. Not that he got bored at third base. I feel good that he had a month or so at shortstop for us to really kind of remind him; Bobby’s been showing him some of that tape and talking to him about the total engagement you have to have at shortstop to play that position. He’s a shortstop that moved to third because we had one of the best shortstops (Hardy) in the game.”

Machado grew up playing shortstop and played it in the minor leagues until the Orioles recalled him in Aug. 2012 and immediately moved him to third base. Now, he’s back where he feels he belongs.

“This is where my heart has always been, this is what I want to do, this is what I’ve always wanted to do,” Machado said. “This is what I came into this world to do was to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally, Buck and the Baltimore organization are giving me the opportunity to go out there and do what I can at that position and show myself. That’s been my dream all along. I’m just really looking forward to it.”

As soon as word came out last year that the Orioles were willing to trade Machado in the right deal, several teams were linked to him, but no offers were to the team’s liking. The Orioles decided to keep Machado — for now.

Of course, the Orioles could always trade Machado at the non-waiver trade deadline in July if they’re not competitive early in the season.

“Hopefully not. Hopefully, I’m here all year and we’re in the World Series,” Machado said. “That would be awesome. It crossed my mind a little bit when the trade talks were going that I might not be able to see these guys again … see my coaches and see the guys that I’ve known for the last seven years.

“At one point, it was kind of a little sad. Thank God nothing went down and I was able to come back and see my guys that I’ve been with for seven years. It’s just going to be a great experience that I went through at that time – a learning experience this whole offseason – that I’m putting in the back of my mind going forward getting ready for this year.”

If the Orioles are competitive and don’t trade Machado in July, they’ll stand to lose him next fall when he can become a free agent. Machado will be peppered all season about whether he’d like to play in New York, Los Angeles — or somewhere else – in 2019 and beyond.

“You know what, it shouldn’t be a distraction,” Machado said. “I don’t work in the front office. I’m not an agent. I play baseball. That’s the only thing I know how to do. It’s the only thing I really know how to do, to be honest – just go out there, play baseball and answer the questions I need to answer and go about my business. My job is to go out there, and produce and if I don’t do that, none of the other stuff will come with it. So, go out there, you know, try to help this team as much as I can, be a good teammate and do everything I’ve got to do in this clubhouse and do everything I have to do on the field and things will just start rolling.”

Orioles Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations Dan Duquette acknowledged at the winter meetings that the team hadn’t had discussions with Machado’s agent for a few years. There seems to be little chance of Machado extending his career in Baltimore beyond this year.

“I hope. Everybody hopes,” Machado said of a possible extension.

“Obviously, this is the only organization I’ve ever played for and the only organization I know, so I could definitely stay here, play for this organization, play for the crowd, play for the fans. This is all I know. It’s a great organization that I’ve always played for and gave me an opportunity to come up here and play in the big leagues. But, at the same time, there are some things that are out of my jurisdiction, out of my hands. What I can do is go out there and give them the best season I can and see what happens.”

Machado’s arrival at Orioles’ camp Saturday overshadowed Jonathan Schoop’s. Two weeks ago, Schoop disappointed fans and the organization when he didn’t attend FanFest because his agent advised him not to since he and the team hadn’t agreed on a contract figure for 2018.

Schoop said he regretted being a no-show at FanFest.

“Yeah, of course, for the fans. That’s why I’m going to sign for them — autographs,” Schoop said. “Every fan, I’m going to sign for them and give them something back. I’m glad it’s over and I can focus on baseball now, so I can focus on being out there and helping the team win.”

He says his relationship with the Orioles is a positive one.

“Of course, of course, it’s good,” Schoop said. “I went in there and shook hands with Buck and talked with Buck and I think everything is OK. And, like I said, I’m focused right now to go out there and do my job and help my team win.”

Showalter was displeased that Schoop was not at FanFest and chided his agent. The Orioles and Schoop ended up agreeing on an $8.5 million contract for this season.

“FanFest is not about contracts or anything like that,” Showalter said. “It’s just some bad advice that a young player got.”

Like Machado, Schoop said he hasn’t had any talks with the Orioles about an extension.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. bickel57

    February 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    While Machado and Schoop are in a good mood maybe somebody should get off thier butt and start negotiating. Whether it be Angelos or Anderson. They may have lost Machado but you never know until you negotiate. Schoop Gausman don’t wait until the last minute and hope they come around. To many excellent players lost from whom ever lack of being proactive.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 17, 2018 at 7:59 pm

      You know, I’ll bite here. Besides Cruz (and Markakis, whose 4 year deal was taken off the table), which excellent players have the Orioles lost in the last decade plus that they absolutely should have kept? I mean, Mussina was 18 seasons ago.

  2. Dblack2508

    February 17, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    I am wondering if that was a scripted answer from his agent? That being said that Orioles have not even kicked the tires on an extension is problematic. Manny is the best Orioles prospect I have seen in a very long time. From a perspective for public relations in Baltimore, make a 200 mil for 10 year offer. He will not except it, and you move on.
    I believe if the Orioles are our of it before the trade deadline and they tried to make Schoop an offer; it may be that both are on the move.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 17, 2018 at 8:00 pm

      But why make an offer that you know he is not going to accept? To say you did it? I’m not a fan of that.

  3. bigdaddydk

    February 18, 2018 at 8:16 am

    “It’s my natural position, that’s where I think I can be the best at,” Machado said. “It’s not really something about — I know a lot of the talk has been [about] ‘Oh, is he going to be worth more there? More money.’ It’s not about the money. It’s not about going out there and signing a 20-year deal.”

    It’s either about the money or about playing elsewhere after this year. Otherwise Manny and the O’s would have negotiated a contract. But he was clear that he intends to pursue the big payday in free agency. If that’s not about the money, I don’t know what is. And if moving to SS to increase his value in advance of that isn’t about the money, well I don’t know what it’s really about. I get that he feels like SS is his natural position, but I can’t believe there’s not a value added component to the move, both for him and the team.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 18, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      Definitely for the team. And it doesn’t hurt his value — though he probably should keep 3b and SS open in the offseason to maximize value.

  4. Orial

    February 18, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I know this is a little out of left field but doesn’t it appear that it would be better for both parties(O’s/Schoop) to wait for Manny to be gone before talking extension considering Manny’s Svengali affect on Schoop. Laugh it up but ya never know.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 18, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      I hear ya. But the bigger thing is the closer Schoop gets to FA, the less likely he (or anyone) is to sign an extension.

  5. Bancells Moustache

    February 18, 2018 at 10:34 am

    “If the Orioles are competitive and don’t trade Machado in July, they’ll stand to lose him next fall when he can become a free agent.”

    This article is frightening. Dubroff is as well dug in with the O’s as anyone, and if he says the Orioles are actually contemplating making the worst personnel decision in franchise history, I believe him. Competitive? If the sun rises on August 1st with Manny Machado still on the Orioles, unless the O’s are steamrolling everyone and are a lead pipe lock for the division, then Duquette, Anderson, Showalter, hell everyone down to Fancy Clancy should be fired immediately. Anyone who lets Machado walk for a couple draft picks and doesn’t have a ring to show for it should not be allowed to run a professional baseball team ever again.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 18, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      That’s the reality though. If they are in a competitive spot for the playoffs I think it would be unlikely that they deal him. It’s just not the way the organization has worked in the past.

  6. Raveonjo

    February 18, 2018 at 1:20 pm

    Since the Orioles have no long term interest in his long term performance, they should play Manny everyday this season as long as he’s on the active roster. They should get every drop of his talent until he leaves. No days off on a 90 degree, 90% humidity Sunday afternoon after a Saturday night extra inning game. That may sound crass, but it isn’t. It’s not personal. It’s business.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 18, 2018 at 8:13 pm

      I don’t think that would bother Machado at all. He’s wired to play 162 or close to it.

  7. ClyOs

    February 18, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    I would hope Machado and Schoop say all the right things. They are just another example that the only loyal entity in baseball today are the fans. Players play for money, teams operate for revenue, but the fans cheer regardless. They cheer no matter who plays for the team or who runs the team. I have been an Oriole fan longer than both Machado and Schoop have been alive. I have cheered for the Orioles longer than Angelos has owned the team. While I understand baseball is a business, I feel there are certain unofficial lines no player has the right to cross, like not showing up for fan-fest. Machado and Schoop can say the right things all spring long, but come opening day, I’ll be sitting in the stands booing when they are introduce for not showing loyalty to the fans.

    • Dan Connolly

      February 18, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      I’m curious to hear what the reaction is for the two of them on Opening Day. That’s gonna be a storyline for me.

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