SARASOTA, Fla. -- Two months after talk began circulating that Manny Machado might be traded by the Baltimore Orioles, the team’s new shortstop arrived for spring training.
Machado, who'll be playing shortstop for as long as he’s with the team, didn’t get traded, and is back for what could be his final season with the Orioles. He’s eligible for free agency this fall.
The 25-year-old, who has played third base for nearly all of his big league career, moves to short, at his request. He claims that he wasn’t disturbed by the trade chatter.
"No. Not really. I knew from the get-go. I know there’s the business part of it," Machado said. "They trying to get the best for the team. They’re just trying to look for what was out there, what my value was…I knew that they still wanted me here and I knew I was a big key to the success we are going to have for the team here. I'm here to be an Oriole and do what I got to do to help this team win, win some games and move forward."
Machado will presumably start the season with the Orioles, and is looking forward to replacing J.J. Hardy at short.
"It’s my natural position, that’s where I think I can be the best at what I'm worth there," 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.
"This is where my heart has always been, this is what I want to do, this is what I've always wanted to do. This is what I came into this world to do…to play shortstop at the big league level. Finally [manager Buck Showalter] 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."
At the Winter Meetings, Orioles executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette said that he hadn’t engaged in extension talks for a few years with Machado's agent, Dan Lozano. Machado said that there haven’t been any since.
"No, no, not that I've heard," Machado said. "We just had arbitration talks and just basically what’s going on with the trade and stuff like that. Kind of communicating with me. But other than that there hasn’t been anything else."
If the Orioles have a rough start to the 2018 season, Machado could again be the subject of rumors. If he’s not traded by the July 31 nonwaiver trade deadline, he could hear about possible free agency destinations.
"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."
Machado hopes 2018 isn't his last year with the team.
"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."
Even though it doesn’t seem likely, Machado claims he would like to remain with the Orioles.
"I hope. Everybody hopes. 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 organizations, play for the crowd, play for the fans," Machado said.
"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."
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