O’s may move Machado to SS if he’s not traded

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — The Baltimore Orioles are considering moving Manny Machado from third base back to shortstop in 2018 — if they don’t move him to another team before Opening Day.

A source confirmed a report in The Athletic that the Orioles have begun fielding offers on Machado, a three-time All-Star who will be eligible for free agency next winter. The source said the Orioles are “not shopping, but listening” to trade proposals from other clubs.

Amid the trade speculation, manager Buck Showalter said he has talked to Machado about a possible return to shortstop. Showalter confirmed that Machado has expressed a desire to play short since he joined the organization seven years ago.

“He always has, since the day he signed,” Showalter said. “To say that Manny and I haven’t had conversations about it over the years, I wouldn’t be truthful.”

Machado, 25, broke into professional ball at shortstop as the third overall pick in the 2010 June first-year player draft. He moved to third base as a rookie in 2013 in deference to veteran shortstop J.J. Hardy, and he has won two Gold Gloves at the position. This year, Machado finished in a tie for ninth among MLB third basemen with 6 Defensive Runs Saved, according to Baseball Info Solutions.

Machado has also been one of the elite offensive producers in the game. Since 2013, he has a .280/.338/.502 slash line and is tied with J.D. Martinez for seventh in the majors with 105 home runs.

Hardy, who is now a free agent, started 70 games at shortstop for the Orioles in 2017. If the Orioles move Machado back to short, they’ll have to find a spot for Tim Beckham, who started 49 games at the position after coming over from Tampa Bay in a midseason trade.

The Orioles could shed payroll and fortify their farm system by trading Machado and veteran closer Zach Britton this offseason, but Showalter said the team is still considering what course it will take. He expects to have input after general manager Dan Duquette assesses the available trade options.

“We’re not talking about that all the time,” Showalter said. “I’m not involved in a lot of what’s really going on. That’s Dan’s situation and Dan’s prerogative and his communication with people. But if something is going to drastically change the construction of our roster, then I’m sure I’ll be brought into it.”

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