Manny Machado will be introduced at tonight’s All-Star Game in D.C., maybe tip his cap to the crowd, and try not to think about the possibility that he’s playing shortstop for the last time while representing the Orioles.
They aren’t moving him back to third base. They could be moving him to another team later this week, with the Phillies, Dodgers and Brewers deemed again yesterday to be the three finalists, according to a source.
Machado may not make it to Friday. It’s that close.
Rumors that the Orioles and Phillies already had an agreement were shot down by multiple sources, and MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki added, “No agreements have been made despite rampant speculation, but a deal could be completed before the second half of the season begins Friday.”
Machado wishes he were more in the loop.
“For sure, definitely, but those are things I can’t speak of and I don’t know what’s going on,” he said. “I’d like to be involved a little more, but those are things that ownership, front office are in charge of and it’s all part of the business side of it. We play baseball. The business side stays on that side and this is just how things are.”
Maybe it isn’t a common practice for team executives to share the list of suitors with a player and provide step-by-step updates on negotiations.
“I mean, that would be awesome,” Machado said. “At least kind of keep us in the loop and just kind of, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on,’ but I know Dan (Duquette) has been doing a really good job of trying to keep us informed as much as he can.
“Obviously, we always want more. Just let me know what’s going on. But we get it. We respect it. It is what it is and at the end of the day, I kind of don’t want to know. I just want to go out there and play baseball and no more distractions. This is distracting as it is, and less is more.”
The uncertainty could crush a player, but Machado has plowed through it to make his fourth All-Star appearance. Just don’t be fooled by how easy he’s making it look.
“It’s the worst,” he said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. This game’s already hard enough as it is, and to go out there and not know where you’re going to be tomorrow, it’s kind of tough.”
The fun starts in free agency, when Machado can choose where he wants to play and do more than break the bank. He’s going to obliterate it.
What’s important to Machado besides the money?
“Money doesn’t bring happiness, money doesn’t bring happiness,” he said, trying to erase the notion that he’ll simply go to the highest bidder. “As long as my family’s happy, I’m happy. That’s all that matters.”
Which led someone to ask what’s going to make him happy.
“Being happy. Being happy somewhere,” he said, grinning.
“I don’t know where it’s going to be. As long as my wife, my family, everyone comes together and is happy with the situation, we’ll make a decision then.”
The Phillies are expected to make a spirited run at Machado, whether it’s to sign or re-sign him. They’re poised to spend big and the organization is littered with former Oriole employees, the roll call including president Andy MacPhail, general manager Matt Klentak, assistants Ned Rice and Scott Proefrock, senior advisor Pat Gillick, director of player development Joe Jordan and pitching coach Rick Kranitz.
“I don’t know about good relationship, but I know them, of course,” Machado said. “We go way back. Joe was one of the guys who drafted me. Andy was there when I signed, as well. I kind of have a decent relationship with them.”
Machado kept going back to his love of the Orioles, making it clear that he isn’t eager to bail on a team with the worst record in baseball. He drove home the point again when asked if he could name a club that he didn’t want to play for, with Machado spinning it in the other direction.
“I’d like to stay at home,” he said. “I can answer that. I’d like to stay at home. I’d like to stay with the organization that I’ve been with. Not learning new faces, learning any new names. I’m not good with names. That would be nice.”
It’s painful to keep losing night after night, as the Orioles have done at an alarming rate, but Machado doesn’t want your pity.
“We’re grateful to be here at the end of the day,” he said. “We’re grateful to have the opportunity to come out here and play every day. We’re fortunate to be big leaguers. It’s everyone’s dream. This was my dream once, and now we’re living it.
“It’s a pleasure to always put on this jersey and represent the organization and go out there and cross those lines and try to win.”
Because the media gets 45 minutes of access to the players on workout day, there was time to revisit the silly controversy from Machado’s “like” of a photoshopped image of him on Instagram wearing a Yankees uniform. You’d think he had gotten pinstripes tattooed on his body.
Machado and his wife, Yainee, run his account.
“It was just a mistake,” he said. “I was scrolling down, seeing pictures. I’ve liked a bunch of them, to be honest. I’ve seen myself in Dodgers, Milwaukee, Phillies, I mean, it’s been going on since sometime in December. It’s been going on forever. We like them all.”