Orioles manager Buck Showalter confirmed that Machado will move to shortstop, his natural position, in 2018.
“He’s going to play shortstop,” confirmed Showalter on Saturday at Orioles FanFest on Saturday.
Tim Beckham will trade positions with Machado, sliding from short to third on the diamond. Baltimore acquired Beckham from the Tampa Bay Rays during last year’s trade deadline, and he hit .306 with 10 homers in 216 at-bats for the Orioles down the stretch.
“I’m open to (moving to third base), especially if it helps the team,” said Beckham during FanFest to MLB.com. “The end goal is to win ballgames and we don’t want to lose sight of that. I don’t want to make this a big deal. I’ll just transition over there, continue to make the plays and be consistent.”
Beckham, 28, has only five career starts at the hot corner, and none since 2016, according to BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Paul Folkemer.
Despite being drafted as a shortstop by the Orioles in 2008, Machado has appeared in only 52 games (45 in 2016) there during his six years with Baltimore.
J.J. Hardy has been the primary shortstop for the Orioles in his years as Machado’s teammate, but his departure for free agency opened up the opportunity for the change.
“Manny’s basically played shortstop in the shift for three or four years,” said Showalter. “I think we’re moving Manny back to his natural position. And Tim’s been playing a lot of places. So I know how important Manny is to our team, and I think he can be the most impactful there, especially with the loss of J.J.”
According to ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick, Machado has expressed a desire to play shortstop as long as he’s been part of the Orioles’ organization.
“He always has (been interested), since the day he signed,” said Showalter back in December. “To say that Manny and I haven’t had conversations about it over the years, I wouldn’t be truthful.”