BALTIMORE -- Orioles manager Buck Showalter revealed at FanFest what had long been expected. Manny Machado will move from third base to shortstop.
Machado -- who along with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, wasn’t at the Jan. 27 event at the Baltimore Convention Center -- has long wanted to play the position. Showalter said Tim Beckham, who played shortstop for the last two months of the 2017 season, will probably move to third base.
“We think it’s our best setup right now,” Showalter said.
“I think Tim is capable of playing third base, but we’ll see,” Showalter said. “There could be some adjustments down in the spring. Maybe we don’t like the feel of it, but that’s [how] we’re going to head into it. There’s a chance we can adjust from there.”
Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette, who was peppered with aggressive questions from fans about Machado and the lack of movement in the free agent market, says he hopes Machado will start the season with the Orioles.
During last month’s Winter Meetings, Duquette listened to offers for Machado, but didn’t find what he heard attractive.
“It’s a big decision for the organization, obviously,” Duquette said. “We’re planning on Manny being with the club. We explored all those options. We think the strongest option is for Manny to be on the ballclub.”
Showalter said Beckham would prefer to play shortstop, but the new third baseman, who has started just five games there in his major league career, isn’t nervous about the move.
“It’s exciting, man. It’s a new position for me,” Beckham said. “I’m open to it. I’m expected to help the team. It’s a better fit for the team.”
Showalter had considered using Beckham as a super-utility player, but now the Orioles will have him at third, and an open job for the utility role.
On Jan. 26, the Orioles acquired utility infielder Engelb Vielma from the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later or cash considerations. With Vielma’s addition, the Orioles have 39 players on the 40-man roster.
Duquette told season ticket holders that the team has maintained contact with Ryan Flaherty, who has been a utility player for the past six years, but is now a free agent.
The Orioles are still looking for a veteran catcher to compete with Caleb Joseph and rookies Chance Sisco and Austin Wynns, Duquette said.
Schoop and right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman are the only two players unsigned for this season, and could be headed to arbitration. Gausman was at FanFest.
“I’m disappointed that Jon’s not here,” Showalter said. “I think that he got some bad advice…It’s unfortunate.”
Showalter says that he wasn’t as upset that Machado wasn’t at FanFest. “I’ve gotten a feel for what Manny’s absence is about, and I have a pretty good understanding for that. Jon’s, I don’t. The reasons I’m being given are not very good.”
Duquette will continue to look for starting pitchers to augment the rotation.
“There are some pitchers available, and I’m confident that we’ll be able to sign some pitchers between now and when we open,” Duquette said.
The Orioles begin spring training in Sarasota, Fla. on Feb. 13, and Duquette said he would like to have starting pitchers signed by March 1, four weeks before the March 29 season opener against Minnesota.
“We’ve got a little bit more time, but it’s getting to that time of year where you need to add to your team,” Duquette said.
The contracts of Duquette and Showalter expire at the end of the 2018 season. At the Winter Meetings, Showalter said he would like to continue beyond this season. Duquette now says he wants to as well.
“The Orioles gave me an opportunity to reestablish myself in baseball, which I really appreciated,” Duquette said. “I’d like to continue that.”