Baltimore Orioles: Would A J.J. Hardy Extension Be Logical?

J.J. Hardy

Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

The Baltimore Orioles have been relatively quiet throughout the 2013-14 offseason, as frustrating as that’s been for their fans who expected this team to make at least one significant addition prior to the 2014 campaign. While they have yet to do so, this team is still in relatively good shape heading into the new season. Of course, the looming threat of multiple players departing over the course of the next few years is a concern for a smaller market club like the O’s, and one of those players that is headed for free agency in the very near future is J.J. Hardy.

There have been whispers this offseason as to the potential for negotiations for a contract extension for the Orioles’ shortstop, but it still remains something of a debate as to whether or not signing Hardy to a long term deal even makes sense for Baltimore. It’s no secret that the two sides would like to come together on such a deal, though what kind of contract Hardy might be looking for remains a mystery.

Nonetheless, the question of whether or not the O’s should sign J.J. Hardy to an extension is a valid one. After all, this is a team that employs Manny Machado as their third baseman, and eventually the face of their franchise if he’s not already. While Machado has enjoyed enormous success at the hot corner, it’s a known fact that his natural position is shortstop. The assumption has long been that when Hardy leaves, whether through trade or free agency, Machado would shift back over to short.

Not so fast. The fact that Machado has been so successful at third base is part of what would make a Hardy extension so logical. Machado represents one of the best in the game from a defensive standpoint, and his metrics with the glove are off the charts. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Not only do the Orioles have the luxury of not having to move Machado back, keeping Hardy around would ensure that the they have the best left side of the infield in the game. Not only does Machado bring it with the leather, but Hardy went for a UZR/150 of six last year, and that represented a down year for him. He’s plenty capable with the stick as well, with a steady slash line of .263/.306/.433/.738 and a wRC+ of 99. Naturally, you’d like that OBP to be up a bit higher, though.

Perhaps part of the reason that the Orioles have been so quiet this winter is the fact that they’re trying to maintain this current core group. Not only do they have Hardy to worry about, but Chris Davis and Matt Wieters as well. While some might question the purpose in re-signing a guy like J.J. Hardy when Machado is in the mix, it’s hard to argue that this is a better club with Hardy on the roster than without him.

Topics: Baltimore Orioles, J.J. Hardy, Manny Machado

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  • Ryne Mehan

    I agree with points made in the articles. I would like to see Hardy given a one or two year extension. The guy is so solid, and he is durable. Baltimore fans are a little spoiled by having a guy like Hardy. At such a premium position people forget just how much of a luxury it is to have a shortstop that is a top notch offensive player as well as defensive player. It’s kind of sad to think that a guy with the overall game of Hardy had a tough time finding a team that really wanted him before Baltimore. He made a couple of all star games with Milwaukee and it still didn’t seem they even wanted him, and yeah he struggled in Minnesota a little later, but again, he is a shortstop.

    With all of the question marks the Os have had the last three years Hardy has really been one of the only constants. I know we Baltimore fans appreciate Hardy for his effort and performance, but I still don’t think enough people realize how much better he makes this team and how good a player he is. He is still very under appreciated in my eyes. An extension would prove to myself otherwise.