Talk of D.C.
Some players’ All-Star narratives are threatened to be altered by trades.
PHOENIX – Just six months ago, All-Star reliever Brad Hand signed a contract extension that changed his life, providing financial security to his family, becoming an integral cog of the Padres’ future.
A week before the All-Star Game, Hand has no idea where his future will take him, wondering whether he will still be wearing a San Diego uniform by the time he’s honored as an AllStar on July 17.
And if not, will his new employers be the Red Sox, Yankees or Astros?
Hand is among a handful of All-Stars who could be be wearing a generic jersey by game time July 17. He joins shortstop Manny Machado of the Orioles, catcher Wilson Ramos of the Rays, starter J.A. Happ of the Blue Jays, second baseman Scooter Gennett of the Reds and first baseman Jose Abreu of the White Sox, all who are trade targets.
No target might be as marketable as Hand, who has a team-friendly contract and 24 saves with 64 strikeouts in 421⁄3 innings. He was scouted by nearly 10 clubs, including the Red Sox over the weekend, who badly covet the man the Marlins gave up on two years ago.
“I’m sure it will heat up here,” Hand told USA TODAY. “Teams looking to go to the playoffs are always looking for bullpen help. And I feel like if you’re not on a winning team, they’re always willing to give up whoever they want.”
Then again, now that Hand thinks about it, he might have sealed his own fate six months ago. That is when he signed a three-year, $19.75 million contract extension, giving the Padres, or any team that potentially trades for him, control of him through 2021.
“You can look at it from both sides,” Hand said. “It’s like you signed a long-term deal to stay in San Diego or you just inMVP creased your trade value by adding more years of control.”
It’s drastically different for the seven teams in the Machado sweepstakes. The winner controls him only through the season, though it would have exclusive negotiating rights until early November.
Machado strictly is a rental, unless you happen to have $400 million burning a hole in your checking account in hopes of keeping him away from the Yankees in the offseason.
Machado, only the fourth player in history to make the AllStar team as a shortstop and a third baseman, realizes he might not even be wearing an Orioles uniform at this time next week.
Machado badly wants to play in the All-Star Game, but if he’s traded to the Dodgers or another National League team before the game, he could be ineligible.
It’s similar to what happened to Jeff Samardzija, who was named to the 2014 NL All-Star Game for the Cubs, only to be traded days before the game to the Athletics. He was relegated to wearing a generic All-Star Game jersey and cap.
“Hopefully I put on that (Orioles) jersey,” Machado told reportersafter his All-Star selection. “If not, I’m always going to be grateful no matter what. … There’s been a lot of talks and a lot of things going on, but who knows what will happen at the end of the day. Things could change, or I could probably
Machado will definitely be traded, likely to Los Angeles, before Aug. 1. So will Happ, who appears destined for the Yankees, even after a poor start against them July 7. Ramos, a natural fit to reunite with the Nationals, is also expected to be switching teams.
Then again, Hand figured he’d be dealt a year ago, too. Padres general manager A.J. Preller even sat him down before the deadline and laid out the scenarios.
It wasn’t until Padres manager Andy Green’s text on July 31 that he knew he was staying put.
“Last year, I sat by my phone waiting to see what was going to happen,” Hand said. “My wife would ask me daily what was going to happen. You just have no idea. I’ve been talked about for a year and a half now, but I’m still here.”
The last-place Orioles are talking to teams about a deal for free-agent-to be Manny Machado.