One day before starting the American League Championship Series, the Baltimore Orioles have agreed to a contract extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports provided the specifics for Hardy's deal:
Jeremy Conn of 105.7 The Fan was the first to report Hardy and the Orioles agreed to an extension, which was confirmed by the team's Twitter account:
Hardy was due to become a free agent after this season and would have been a hot commodity because of his defense at shortstop. According to Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com, Buck Showalter never wanted it to get to a point where Hardy would be out there for the taking:
You can see the value the Orioles have placed on defense with this particular deal. Hardy hasn't been a great hitter in four years with Baltimore, though he did have 77 homers from 2011 to 2013. This year his power evaporated with nine home runs.
Despite those issues with the bat, Hardy remains a rock with the glove. He led all American League shortstops in defensive value (20.4) and defensive runs saved (10), per FanGraphs.
Hardy's extension also seems to signal the end of any chance that Manny Machado will move to shortstop, not that anyone will complain about having a left side of the infield with two defensive stalwarts. Given Machado's knee injuries the last two years, it's probably best to keep him off shortstop.
The other part of Hardy's extension that makes sense is it keeps him away from shortstop-needy teams—for example, the New York Yankees—who were likely preparing to make an offer to him once free agency started. Times are great in Baltimore right now, and Hardy's extension is one of many reasons to celebrate.
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