Talk of D.C.

USA TODAY Sports Weekly - - INSIDE - Bob Night­en­gale Colum­nist USA TO­DAY

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.

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