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Well, if the Birds do end up getting a great pitcher or impressive prospects in a trade for Hardy, we know Machado will take over at shortstop, but what about third base?
Duquette and Co. have already thought that through and are way ahead of us.
So far this offseason, they’ve acquired a numbers of versatile infielders and have many options at third base if the need arises.
First choice would most likely be the 28-year-old Danny Valencia, who is a third baseman by trade. Although the Miami native struggled last season after splitting time with both the Twins and Red Sox, he put together a couple of impressive years with Minnesota to start his career.
Valencia debuted in 2010 and appeared in 85 games; he collected 93 hits, including seven home runs and 40 RBI while batting .311. In his second season, although his average dropped to .246, he jolted 15 home runs and drove in 72 RBI in 154 games.
Last year was just his third year in the majors, and he hit a combined .188 with three home runs and 21 RBI over 34 games. If Hardy is not traded, he will most likely be the Orioles' starting third baseman for the Triple-A Norfolk Tides.
However, if the Birds end up trading Hardy, he will be competing for the third base job with Yamaico Navarro, a former Pittsburgh Pirate.
Over his three-year career, Navarro has played with three different teams and is just a .191-career batter. He’s appeared in just 71 games since debuting in 2010, but is a very versatile position player.
He has played all over the infield (first base, second base, shortstop and third base), not to mention left field. Last season with the Pirates he made 25 starts at third base.
Navarro most likely will not be part of the Opening Day roster. However, there is always a chance, depending on spring training.
Another option for the Birds at third base, although he most likely will be splitting time with Chris Davis as the designated hitter and first baseman, is Wilson Betemit.
The 31-year-old switch-hitter is a nine-year veteran and has made a career out of traveling from team to team. He’s played on seven different teams and is another versatile player.
Last season, although he spent a large portion of the year on the disabled list, he managed to make it into 102 games for the Birds. He batted .261 with 12 home runs and 40 RBI. In 2006 with the Braves and Dodgers, he crushed 18 home runs and drove in 53 RBI in 143 games (all career highs).
Not to mention, the Birds acquired second baseman Alexi Casilla from the Twins. Although he is a second baseman by trade, with the possibility of Brian Roberts returning to the lineup, the 28-year-old Dominican has played 10 career games at third base and is versatile as well.
Don’t forget that Davis also came up to the majors as a third baseman and has played 70 games in his career at the hot corner.
There is no doubt the Orioles have an abundance of possibilities at third base if they need to move Machado to shortstop to fill the void left by Hardy. However, like I mentioned before, Showalter said the trade needs to more than overwhelm them if they are going to part with Hardy.
I do not see that happening over the course of the next couple of weeks. They have a strong bond with Hardy and the trade has to really blow their minds. I think it would be smart to deal Hardy, but only if they get strong pitching prospects in return. I can live with Machado spending another season at third base learning how to hit at the major league level with Hardy to his left.
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