San Diego Padres general manager A.J. Preller flew to Miami within the last week to meet with free-agent third baseman Manny Machado, according to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Acee notes that the prized free agent is the team's preferred option to fill its hole at the hot corner. Acee added that Preller was among the Padres contingent that previously flew to Las Vegas to meet with free-agent outfielder Bryce Harper.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal reported last week that both Machado and Harper are seeking $300 million contracts. That's a big ask, but Machado would certainly provide a much-needed boost at third for San Diego.
Machado hit .297/.367/.538 with 37 home runs, 35 doubles, three triples and 107 RBI in 162 games between the Baltimore Orioles and the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.
After having spent the first six-plus years of his career in the American League, he showed little trouble in adjusting to National League pitching following a midseason trade to L.A. last season. He hit .273/.338/.487 with 13 home runs, 14 doubles and 42 RBI in 66 games for the Dodgers.
Playing the vast majority of his career in Baltimore has kept him from playing in San Diego on a regular basis. Machado has made just four appearances at Petco Park in his career thus far, going 8-for-18 (.444 average). He does, however, have just one extra-base hit at the spacious stadium, a double.
San Diego opens camp with Ty France (zero MLB appearances), Ian Kinsler (one career appearance at third) and Greg Garcia (.248 career average) among the top candidates for the hot corner.
And while the Padres have an obvious need at third, it's not clear what Machado's level of interest in returning to the position he won a pair of Gold Gloves at is. Machado moved to shortstop for the 2018 season, and when a position change came up prior to the trade deadline, he made it clear he wanted to remain in the middle of the infield.
"I'm a shortstop," Machado said in July 2018, per The Athletic's Marc Carig. "I play shortstop."
San Diego currently has top prospect Fernando Tatis Jr. nearing the big leagues, so the Padres would likely want Machado to return to third. However, shortstop could be on the table, as MLB.com notes that the 6'3", 185-pound Tatis may need to move to third base at some point.
According to Acee, Machado is not believed to be close to nearing a decision. The Chicago White Sox and the Philadelphia Phillies are among the teams in the mix.