A few hours before Wednesday's game, a Baltimore Orioles player discussed his longstanding relationship with several Phillies officials, including general manager Matt Klentak and team president Andy MacPhail, and the chances of a reunion with them later this month.
Try Zach Britton.
It's well known that the Phillies covet Machado and are considered by many within the game as one of the favorites to land him, if not now then during the offseason when he becomes a free agent. But they could show interest in Britton, too, depending on how well the two-time all-star closer pitches in his comeback from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Britton pitched a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday against the Phillies, but thus far, his results have been mixed. He has a 5.59 ERA, seven strikeouts and seven walks in 9 2/3 innings, and his average fastball velocity has been down from 95.9 over the last four seasons to 93.8, although Britton attributes that to his delayed start to the season.
"I had them print out all my spring-training velocities over the years that I had a healthy spring, and I'm pretty much right in line with that," Britton said. "From a movement-on-my-sinker consistency, one day you feel really good, the next day you're like, 'What the heck happened?' I'm trying to get away from worrying about injuries and velocity and just go out there and compete. Once I do that, I think things for me will happen quicker and the results will be better."
Britton, who is owed approximately $6 million before becoming a free agent at season's end, is two years removed from one of the best seasons ever by a closer. If healthy, the 30-year-old lefty could help the Phillies as another late-inning reliever.
But Phillies officials know all about Britton. When he was drafted, director of player development Joe Jordan was the Orioles' amateur scouting director. When Britton was coming up through the minors, Klentak worked for MacPhail in the Orioles' baseball operations department.
And while Britton has maintained a relationship with each of them, he's closest to Phillies assistant general manager Ned Rice.
"Ned was the intern who drove me around when I was going through the [post-draft signing] process," Britton said. "He took me to the airport to fly out to the affiliate. Me and Ned have a long-term relationship. I've always been with the Orioles, but I would assume the more people you know, it makes the transition [to a new team] easier."
Machado was coy about whether he would sign a long-term contract with a team that trades for him this month. But he was perfectly clear about which position — shortstop or third base? — he prefers to play going forward.
"I'm playing short," he said. "That's the position I want to play. That's the position I know I can play and produce."
Machado is a two-time Gold Glove winner at third base, but the Orioles moved him back to shortstop this season. Although he rates poorly according to most defensive metrics, he tends to get better reviews from scouts and other evaluators.
The Phillies could easily accommodate Machado's desire to play shortstop by moving either Scott Kingery or J.P. Crawford to third base.