Sometime before 8:30 Tuesday night, Manny Machado will step into the batter’s box in Washington’s Nationals Park and prepare to take his cuts in the Major League All-Star Game.
By 9 or 9:30, Machado’s All Star duties will be done. So, too, likely, will be his tenure with the Orioles.
The third baseman turned shortstop almost certainly played his last game in Baltimore Sunday, belting a solo home run in the first inning of the team’s 6-5 win over the Texas Rangers.
When Machado was yanked from the ballgame after a rain delay in the fifth inning, speculation was immediately launched that the Birds had dealt the four-time All Star.
However, it was just a case of the Orioles brass showing rare discretion and common sense by keeping their most valuable asset off a slick field and not subjecting him to injury before they could deal him.
And make no mistake: The Orioles will part company with Manny Machado as early as Wednesday. If he’s still on the Baltimore roster by Friday, when the team returns from the All-Star break, then you’ll know that something has gone horribly wrong.
Actually, the Orioles could deal Machado at any time before the end of the season, but there is a specific pressure to do so before July 31.
That date is known as the non-waiver deadline. In simple terms, it becomes dramatically more difficult to make a trade after the non-waiver deadline, so the moment needs to be soon.
Understand that this is not a request to trade Machado. In a perfect world, the 26-year-old Machado would continue to be a cornerstone, likely the cornerstone of this franchise for years to come.
But nothing about the Orioles has been perfect for a long time, dating back, frankly to the sale of the team to a group led by Peter Angelos in 1993.
Angelos and his partners spent a then-baseball record $173 million for the team and the miserly owner has seemingly tried to recoup that every penny of that money virtually every day since.
Stories are legion through baseball about the Orioles’ unwillingness to spend money to develop talent throughout the minor league system, not to mention the franchise’s penchant for avoiding high-profile, big money free agents.
The Orioles had a superstar in their midst for six seasons in Machado and could have kept him here by opening up the purse for Machado at any point during that time.
Instead, the front office allowed Machado to reach this season, when his contract expires and he can become a free agent, one who will likely command somewhere near $300 million or more for a long term deal.
So, the team now has to trade him and hope to collect young talented players from another team that is in the pennant race. The problem is that Machado may not sign with the team he’s traded to after the season, which could reduce the Birds’ potential return now.
And Machado may not be the only player on the trading block. Pitchers Zach Britton and Brad Brach and centerfielder Adam Jones are all believed to be on their way out.
Consider them all lucky they won’t have to be a part of the mess that is Orioles baseball.
And that’s how I see it for this week.