Could Headley play third for the O’s?


According to MLB Trade Rumors (article linked), San Diego is “comfortable’ entering 2014 with third baseman Chase Headley in the final year of his contract. On a pure business level, I would submit that’s a mistake. If they’re going to keep him, they might want to start getting serious about that before the season starts or before he hits free agency. If they’re going to trade him, his value is only going to go down given the fact that if they do it in the middle of the season he would only have half a year or so of team control per his contract.

However that’s an internal matter with which the Padres will have to deal. An internal matter that concerns the Baltimore Orioles is third base and shortstop. For the time being, the Birds of course appear set at both positions. However there’s always been the lingering idea of whether Manny Machado should or could be moved back to shortstop once J.J. Hardy‘s stint is over (not that Hardy is expected not to be here anytime soon). This entire idea is basically theoretical, so work with here a bit!

Courtesy of Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

I suppose my question is would, could, or should the O’s consider making a run at Headley on the trade market at some point and ponder a move back to shortstop for Manny Machado? Headley is a career .269 hitter, although he peaked at .289 and .286 in 2011 and ’12 respectively. He fields .965 for his career at the hot corner as well. There was a time a few years ago when the Orioles considered making a trade for Headley, however this was prior to Machado coming up and dazzling everyone at third base. Headley at the time was also considered one of the top third basemen in the game, however this past season he reverted back to the mean a bit.

I do think it’s fair to say that Headley’s power numbers would go up in a park like Camden Yards as opposed to playing in pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Throw in playing nine times a year in Fenway as well as Yankee Stadium, and in terms of offensive output he could be a great addition for the Orioles. Furthermore, any team looking to deal for Headley from this point on would be doing so from a position of power given the fact that he comes with so little team control. In the Orioles’ case I think it would probably still cost them a pitching prospect, with which they’re hesitant to part – as we know.

Courtesy of Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not saying that this is probable, possible, smart, dumb, or anything else. I’m just throwing it out there as a talking point. J.J. Hardy is in the final year of his contract, so the Orioles will have to make a decision on him at some point as well. At 31 years old, the Orioles will need to decide if Hardy will continue to be productive and thus worth extending a few more years, or if they should look elsewhere. He’s been the topic of trade talks seemingly from the moment he’s been in Baltimore, so obviously there are teams that would be interested in him. That in and of itself should tell the Orioles something.

Obviously the other question is whether or not Machado would be able to play shortstop at the caliber he’s been playing third base. That’s something that we can’t really know for sure. Granted I’ve thrown this idea out there from my own mind, however I would tend to argue that you shouldn’t mess with a good thing. I thought that Headley would have been a great addition to the team a few years ago, and I still think he could. But there’s no doubt that the scenario I’ve laid out above would come with risks.