Photo: Greg Fiume (Getty)

Manny Machado homered in his first-at bat, his 24th of the year, and then left the game after the fourth inning, because of wet grass following a rain delay. Baltimore manager Buck Showalter said, without outright saying, what we all know: that Machado is currently more valuable to the Orioles on the bench and healthy than playing and at risk of injury.

“A month ago, he wouldn’t have come out of the game,” Showalter told reporters. “We know that. You know it. You’re smart. I think you know what’s going on.”

We’ve reached the all-star break, and after that the O’s head to Toronto, so there’s a very good chance this was Machado’s last home game in Baltimore. On the July 31 trade deadline the Orioles are playing the Yankees, and it’s more likely Machado will be in pinstripes than in Baltimore’s road grays; it’s even more likely than that he’ll be in a different uniform altogether, and by this time next week.

Buster Olney, does your source happen to have a football metaphor that can explain to us how close we are to a deal?

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Yes, the Phillies appear to have jumped into the mix of the teams leading the race for a half-season of the 26-year-old shortstop, replacing the Diamondbacks in the top three that had been widely reported last week. Let’s run down this weekend’s reports. Insiders, assemble!

  • Eight teams have made offers, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the Baltimore Sun, with the Dodgers, Brewers, and Phillies out in front, but it’s “too close to call” which of those three is in the lead. Joining them in the top tier is the Braves, with the Indians, Yankees, Cubs, and Diamondbacks lurking.
  • “The strength of the Yankees’ offer appears to have been exaggerated,” Encina adds, which leads one to believe the Manny-to–New York hype was driven mostly by the O’s front office in an attempt to scare other teams into upping their offers. Per the New York Post, the Yankees aren’t willing to part with any of their top 10 prospects.
  • Buster Olney mentions seven teams that have entered trade negotiations for Machado—the same mentioned above, minus the Cubs. Olney’s report is slightly cagey, but he spends an inordinate amount of words detailing the Phillies’ offer, so you can read between the lines.
  • Jon Heyman’s list has five teams: the Brewers, Dodgers, and Phillies in the lead, and the Yankees and Indians “also in but perhaps behind.”
  • Jon Paul Morosi says the Dodgers and Phillies are the favorites.

If the Machado trade talks feel like they’ve been unusually public, well, that’s by design. The only conceivable reason a team would ever be mentioned in the top spot would be a leak by the Orioles to pressure other teams to up their offers. And the longer this drags out, the more bids that come in. Dan Duquette has played this well, even if the return for Machado would’ve been that much bigger had Peter Angelos allowed him to make this deal in the winter or even a full year ago. Of course, we won’t know the trade’s real winner until years from now, after Machado has signed and the prospects have matured. But the Orioles are playing a bunch of motivated, talent-rich franchises against each other and should walk away with a nice haul. (A nicer one would be keeping Machado, however. Even better would be being a motivated and talent-rich franchise. But you can’t have everything.)