WASHINGTON—With his Orioles’ All-Star Game cap perched backward on his head, the American League’s starting shortstop patiently fielded question after question during his Monday media session.
Manny Machado, who is set to bat seventh in AL manager A.J. Hinch’s lineup for Tuesday’s game, was naturally the center of attention, and not a question was asked about him batting much lower in the order than he’s used to.
The questions about Machado centered on the likelihood the Orioles would trade him, and trade him soon. Many of the questions—and answers—were familiar. He has no control over where he’s traded, no idea where—and he wants to be a shortstop.
Machado, who is bilingual, answered nearly all of the questions in English, but a few in Spanish, too.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter created a momentary stir on Sunday, yanking Machado from the game after a brief rain delay, but word quickly came down that it was to protect the Orioles’ biggest trade chip—not because he’d already been moved.
If Machado had been traded, the Orioles would have been left without a player in the game for the first time in franchise history. While the Orioles seem eager to get a deal done, it won’t come until after the All-Star Game. The feeling is that Machado is not likely to be traded until at least later this week.
“It crossed my mind,” Machado said about a trade before the All-Star Game. “You go to a lot of cities and a lot of questions asked, a lot of trade rumors. It kind of crossed my mind I wouldn’t be able to put on this jersey. [But] I’m here. I love putting on this jersey. I’ve been putting it on for the last [seven] years. Whether it’s the last time I put it on, it’s going to be something special.”
Machado said that if and when he’s traded, there are many things he’d miss about Baltimore.
“All my friends, all my fans, the whole family supporting me, all my friends in the clubhouse, my teammates, my coaches. Those are relationships I’ll never forget. They will always be there.”
An avowed baseball junkie, Machado relaxes by watching other games and highlights on television, and that’s where he picks up much, but not all, of his info.
“You guys probably inform me,” Machado said. “You kind of come over and talk to me a little bit and keep me informed…Honestly, I try to just keep away.”
Last week, Machado created a mini-stir when it was reported that the Yankees had interest in him. Machado “liked” an Instagram post of him in a Yankees uniform.
“That was just a mistake,” Machado said. “I was just scrolling, seeing pictures. I’ve liked a bunch of them, to be honest. I’ve seen myself in Dodgers, Milwaukee, Phillies. It’s been going on since the Winter Meetings. It’s been going on forever. We like them all.”
The Dodgers, Brewers and Phillies are prominently mentioned in Machado trade talks.
He was even asked to look back on his early days with the Orioles, and said that he and the team nearly closed on a long-term deal.
“It fell through,” Machado said. “They’ve been saying they wanted to reach out, but we’re still waiting for that phone call…It was almost a deal done.”
Machado would prefer to have the deal done ahead of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, which is still just over two weeks away.
“Definitely, a hundred percent…Let’s get it over with already. Move on and don’t answer these questions no more. That’d be good.”
Over his years with the Orioles, Machado has become increasingly adept at giving the media usable answers, and after the endless and sometimes tedious speculation, he actually heard a new question Monday.
“What’s the most amusing trade rumor you’ve heard?”
Machado quickly thought. “One of my teammates kind of joked around with me, and told me I got traded to the Giants—the Tokyo Giants. That was one of the most interesting ones.”
By now, Machado knows he’s going to be traded away from the only team he’s played for.
“It crosses my mind all the time. I might stay here all year,” Machado said. “It’s a possibility. I would love that. I wouldn’t have to move…but you’ve got to be realistic.”
For now, Machado is enjoying the All-Star Game, his fourth, and, presumably, his last as an Oriole.
“Grateful to put on this uniform one last time if it is. Enjoy it as much as I can,” he said.
At 26, he’s at the top of his game. In a few months, Machado is likely to sign a contract beyond his wildest dreams, perhaps the richest one in baseball history.
“Money doesn’t bring happiness,” Machado said. “As long as my family is happy, I’m happy. That’s all that matters…It feels great. I’m an All-Star. It can’t be any better.”
Follow Rich Dubroff on Twitter @RichDubroffMLB
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