The Baltimore Orioles have apparently found something they like in shortstop J.J. Hardy. It’s being reported that the club is hoping to extend the 28 year old free agent to be. Baltimore Sun writer Jeff Zrebiec says O’s GM Andy MacPhail hopes to begin discussions with Hardy before the All-Star break.
It’s been a few years since the Birds have had a reliable shortstop, not only with the glove but also at the plate. Hardy has provided that consistency this season, maintaining a line of .287/.363/.473 while committing no errors.
Hardy was acquired by the Orioles this offseason from the Twins for a pair of minor league relievers. Over his 7 seasons in the league, he has held career averages of .264/.325/.426.
Hardy was named to the All-Star team in 2007 as a member of the Brewers. That season he hit 26 home runs and 30 doubles for Milwaukee.
The shortstop was projected by many to be a commodity at the trade deadline, but it appears the O’s would like to hang on to Hardy until top prospect Manny Machado is ready to take over.
One issue that could slow negotiations will likely be the length of Hardy’s next contract.
Machado is another 2 or 3 years away, so ideally the O’s need to bridge the gap until then. Hardy will be 29 this August and will be looking for a contract longer than 2 or 3 years, especially if he is able to keep up his current production.
MacPhail would be wise to begin negotiations early so he could gauge where the team stands as the trade deadline grows closer. If sides are way off by the time July rolls around, the GM could decide to ship Hardy to a contender rather than risk simply losing the shortstop to free agency.