To this point in the young offseason, we haven’t seen much of anything in terms of movement, whether on the free agent market or the trade market. There have been quite a few names thrown around, but nothing tangible has popped up anywhere outside of San Francisco.
The Baltimore Orioles have been one of the names out there as a team that could be active on the trade market. They have some pieces to move, and money is a concern for them moving forward, with the likes of Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy heading to free agency in the near future. The popular sentiment is that the Orioles are hoping to free up some cash in order to make some moves in free agency.
Which could very well lead to the O’s moving one of Wieters, Hardy, or even Jim Johnson at some point during the winter. Perhaps the most intriguing candidate of the three is Hardy. However, while his name has been popular in early offseason trade rumors, there is plenty of rationale for the Orioles holding onto him and extending him for another year or two, rather than moving him.
Hardy is currently pulling down $7 million a year in Baltimore, a fitting salary for what he brings to the table. He brings top notch defense and good power to the lineup from the shortstop position, averaging about 25 home runs in his time with the Orioles. There’s little doubt that he could be a major asset in helping the O’s acquire the pitching that they seek by shopping some of these guys.
At the same time, though, it’s important to acknowledge the Manny Machado situation. While Machado is expected to be back in time for the 2014 season to get underway, there is at least a little bit of uncertainty. How effective will he be right out of the gate? Even then, the Orioles still possess the best defensive infield in baseball, with Hardy at short and Machado at third.
The thought is that Machado will eventually move to shortstop, his natural position, even with the stellar defense he plays at the hot corner. Which is why Hardy is viewed as something of an expendable piece from this club. While that may very well be the case, given the uncertainty surrounding Machado, now may not be the proper time for the Orioles to deal J.J. Hardy. They may very well field some offers for him, but unless it’s something that’s going to drastically upgrade their pitching staff, it’s hard to see them pulling the trigger on a deal.