On the night of the All-Star Game, Manny Machado will proudly represent the Baltimore Orioles, the only team he’s played for in the big leagues.
It just might be his final appearance in an Orioles uniform. With the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline looming, it won’t be long before the four-time AL All-Star is dealt from last-place Baltimore to a contender.
Machado was drafted by the Orioles with the third overall pick in 2010 and has been a starter in Baltimore since 2012. His contract expires after this season, and the Orioles don’t have enough money to keep the 26-year-old shortstop and build a decent team around him.
If there was ever any doubt about their intention, the point was hammered home when manager Buck Showalter removed Machado in the fifth inning of Sunday’s game against Texas because the field was messy following a rain delay.
“A month ago he wouldn’t have come out of the game,” Showalter said. “We know that. You know it.”
Machado does, too. What he doesn’t know, however, is how it might feel to play for another team.
“The only thing I’ve ever known has been the Orioles organization,” he said Monday. “The drafted me, I came up with them, played with them. So I don’t know anything different.”
Machado wasn’t the only All-Star facing the prospect of switching teams in the next two weeks. Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitchers Jacob deGrom (Mets), J.A. Happ (Blue Jays), Blake Snell (Rays) and Brad Hand (Padres) could be headed to contenders.
“Starting pitching is always big during the trade deadline, whether it’s me or somebody else who’s having a good year,” said deGrom, 30, a member of the Mets for his entire career.
The Blue Jays are going nowhere this season in the AL East, but Happ knows he might be going somewhere else.
“I know it’s certainly a possibility,” Happ said. “But I was talking to one of the guys earlier, he was in a position last year where everybody was telling him he was going to be traded, and it never happened. I can’t imagine going through a month of that kind of anxiety and then have nothing happen.”
With Machado, there seems to be little doubt that he’s headed elsewhere. The only questions now are where, and when.
The rumors, the massive media crowd around him Monday and the prospect of his imminent departure from Baltimore did nothing to diminish Machado’s joy at being an All-Star again.
“To see the guys around the clubhouse, it’s pretty awesome,” Machado said. “It’s always a blessing to be here. No one will ever take away how much fun I’m going to have these two days.”
He insists he’s not thinking about whether Tuesday night might be his last in Orioles attire.
“No, no. I’m putting it on and I’m going to represent the organization in the right way,” Machado said. “If it is, it is. If not, I’ll be there on Friday [in Toronto], back with my teammates.”
Machado would be a solid addition to any contender. He converted from third base to shortstop this season, and has played the position well enough to easily win the fan vote at the position.
“People didn’t think I should have made the move in my walk year, but I did. I’m going to the All-Star Game as an Oriole and as a shortstop,” Machado said.
By far the best performer on a very bad team, Machado leads the Orioles in batting average (.315), home runs (24), RBIs (65) and walks (45).
“We’ll see where he ends up in the next week or two,” Milwaukee outfielder Christian Yelich said. “I know we’re one of the teams rumored to be in to get him.”
DeGrom (5-4, 1.68 ERA) would be a welcome addition to any team. The righty wants to win but would prefer it be with the Mets.
“I’ve been here my whole career and really enjoyed my time,” he said. “I want to get back to where we were in ’15 [a playoff year]. I don’t think there’s any better place to win.”
That’s exactly how Happ feels.
“If I could have my choice, I’d like to win with the Jays,” he said. “That’s my focus until it changes.”
Hand (24 saves) won’t waste time thinking about the possibility of being dealt by the Padres.
“I feel like I’ve been asked my thoughts on being traded for the past year-and-a-half now,” he said. “Nothing happened last year, so I don’t think my mindset is going to change. I try not to worry about that kind of stuff.”