Is it asking so much to want a sliver of information about what’s going on with the Manny Machado sweepstakes? A hint? A puff of smoke from the Vatican? A sunken ship from one loose lip?
SoxFest is being held hostage by the ongoing Machado intrigue.
The most popular questions at the White Sox’ fan convention are:
• Are the Sox going to get Machado?
• Any news on the Machado front?
• Is it over the top for a grown man to wear a ‘‘Manny, Will You Have My Baby?’’ T-shirt?
Spring training starts in about three weeks. Although that sounds like more than enough time for the Sox to get a deal done with the superstar free agent, it has the potential to be three weeks of hard-core waiting. And it might go longer.
The Sox have all sorts of stories to tell at SoxFest, and although many of them are compelling, the Machado saga casts a shadow over all of them. Their rebuild will go on whether the Sox sign him or not, but the gas pedal will be floored if they do get him. So as much as you might have wanted to hear about a top prospect’s hobby or a veteran’s inspirational tale of overcoming bunion surgery, you found yourself saying, ‘‘And what does this have to do with where Machado will hit in the batting order?’’
Sox vice president Rick Hahn was forceful and hopeful Friday when talking about Machado, though I thought there was a hint of a concession speech in some of his words, too. He pointed out the Sox weren’t considered players in the competition for Machado or Bryce Harper when the offseason began.
‘‘The fact that we are now sitting here in a potential position — or at least in a position where, if we don’t convert, people are going to be disappointed — I think is an important step forward for this organization,’’ he said. ‘‘We belong at the table in these negotiations. We belong as part of these negotiations for premium talent.
‘‘Regardless of what happens over the next several weeks with either of these two players, we plan to continue to be at the table and continue to attempt to convert on these guys.’’’
Was Hahn attempting to soften the fall for Sox fans in the event Machado goes elsewhere? Did he know something about the negotiations he wasn’t willing to share? He wasn’t saying.
What he wanted Sox fans to know was that the team’s rebuild is also about Luis Robert, Dylan Cease, Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech, Eloy Jimenez and all the young talent throughout the organization.
‘‘It was never going to be about one player,’’ Hahn said.
In the bigger picture, he’s right. To win a World Series, it’s about a lot of players. But today, tomorrow or whenever Machado makes his decision? It’s about one player.
We don’t even know what the Sox’ offer is. There have been varying reports, with one saying that they offered him a seven-year, $175 million contract and another that they had offered him $250 million over eight years. Somebody’s going to be very wrong.
The Sox already have traded for Machado’s brother-in-law, Yonder Alonso, and have signed one of Machado’s close friends in baseball, Jon Jay. The team says it’s all a coincidence, there’s nothing to see here and to keep moving along. I’m told the Sox have had back-channel discussions with Machado’s dog about relocating to Chicago. But keep that between us.
Besides the Sox, the Phillies and, to a lesser extent, the Yankees also have shown interest in Machado. According to a San Diego Union-Tribune report Friday, the Padres have joined the chase. They, like the Sox, have a lot of talented young players moving toward the majors.
There reportedly is a mystery team involved, too, for the simple reason that everything about this situation is mysterious. It’s an offseason cloaked in secrecy and swaddled in undercover work.
The only thing we know for sure is that the Machado ordeal has dragged on. The government shutdown looked like a newborn by comparison.
Why don’t the Sox swoop in with a bigger offer and get this thing done? Maybe they have upped the ante. Again, no one’s sayin’ nuthin’.
The message Hahn clearly wanted to get across was that the pain Sox fans have gone through the past few years would end soon, whether the team signs Machado or not.
‘‘The path this club is on, the future that lies ahead of us is very bright,’’ he said.
In the short term, the level of luminosity depends on where Machado decides to go. And that remains a mystery. If not a state secret.