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Examining the fallout from the Orioles' decision to put Manny Machado at shortstop

Jon Meoli, The Baltimore Sun on

Published in Baseball

The caveat there should be a happy Machado. Machado really has nothing to gain by sulking through a season on a losing team at third base ahead of his prized opportunity at free agency, and Showalter has said a few times that Machado understands how to separate the business side from the baseball. This isn't an appeasement as a bargaining chip toward an extension -- let's not be ridiculous with that talk anymore. But it is a nod toward the players in the sense that the coaches and management can at least garner some goodwill in the clubhouse by doing right by a player who has no recourse in the matter.

3. Is there another move to make?

When asked on Saturday if moving Machado to shortstop would impact the team's plans for the rest of the offseason, Duquette rattled off the standard shopping list of starting pitching and a left-handed-hitting outfielder. But considering they've already moved Beckham once, there's nothing really stopping them from doing it again.

Third base features some intriguing possibilities, albeit on the higher end of the market, headlined by left-handed slugger Mike Moustakas. His career-high 38 home runs in 2017 mean the price tag is high, but the two-time All-Star would fit in the Orioles' lineup quite nicely, with Beckham moving to a super-utility role. Others include Todd Frazier, Yunel Escobar, and Danny Valencia -- none of whom hit left-handed but have experience at third base that could help at the right price.

4. Tim Beckham could be the new symbol in the Showalter-Duquette struggle

In moving the prized trade deadline acquisition Duquette made off the position he was acquired to play, manager Buck Showalter showed where he stands on Beckham with this. While there's a lot of weight to be given to the eye test and the evaluations of Showalter and Bobby Dickerson as to what will be the best defensive alignment, there's likely to be some resentment from on high at the move.

As with everything about which there are two distinct opinions within the Orioles organization, both sides can rightfully say they're correct. One can look at it and say it'll be better with Machado at shortstop rather than Beckham given what he's seen, and another can say the acquisition of Beckham was a smashing success last year who shouldn't be moved off his position for a marginal upgrade.

5. Don't hold out for a J.J. Hardy reunion

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One of the most reasonable factors in all of this was that Machado has long held this desire to play shortstop, but didn't act on it out of respect for the veteran incumbent, J.J. Hardy. That the Orioles are granting this wish in such a public way when they really didn't have to at all means that a return for Hardy to Baltimore is probably off the table.

When Machado moved to the position in Hardy's injury absences, the team didn't want him to move back and forth between positions, so proclaiming he's the shortstop in January doesn't really leave room to add a veteran to man the position behind him in February or March.

Hardy's contributions and impact on the club are undeniable. But this move probably closes the door to him coming back to reclaim his position.

(c)2018 The Baltimore Sun

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