Manny Machado is a two-time Gold Glover at third base, but he’s making a position switch for the 2018 season.
Manny Machado moved through the Orioles minor league system as a shortstop, but since arriving in the big leagues in 2012 he has primarily been a third baseman. The presence of J.J. Hardy and his three Gold Gloves (2012-2014) kept Machado at the hot corner, and mostly rightfully so. But with Hardy out of the picture now, Orioles manager Buck Showalter has confirmed Machado will move from third base to shortstop for the 2018 season with Tim Beckham making the opposite move.
Heading toward the final year of his contract, Machado reportedly expressed his desire to move to shortstop. Trade rumors have also surrounded him this offseason, with the Orioles not expected to contend this year or be in any position to pay up and keep him next winter.
Since coming up in 2012, Machado is second in defensive runs saved among all third baseman (81, behind only Nolan Arenado-104). Machado’s 14.3 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR)/150 is the best among third baseman over the last six seasons. Based on that data, only winning two Gold Gloves in the four seasons he has played at least 156 games seems borderline criminal.
Machado has played 52 games at shortstop for the Orioles, with 45 of those coming in 2016 when Hardy missed time with a foot injury. A seamless transition to the position full-time seems certain based on what he has offered as a third baseman, and Machado’s typical power numbers (averages of 35 home runs and 92 RBI over the last three seasons) will stand out among his peers at shortstop. That’s likely to bolster his value even further on the free agent market next offseason, apart from the fact he’s only entering his age-26 season.
Machado may not finish the season with the Orioles, but he will start it at shortstop for them. Showing he can play both positions on the left side of the infield at a Gold Glove-level may also bolster his potential trade market, so the move has a good side for Baltimore too.