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— A Timely Look at Transactions as They Happen
Sunday, July 17, 2011
Orioles - Signed Hardy
Baltimore Orioles - Signed SS J.J. Hardy to a 3-year, $22 million contract.
The Orioles still have a number of decisions to make, but you can knock one off the list with the announcement of a contract extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy. Hardy will earn $22 million over the next 3 years and receive a limited no-trade clause with his contract extension.
I’m on the same page as Keith Law on the need for the Orioles to blow up most of this team and the lack of wisdom in simply deciding that they were going to compete in 2011.
However, of all the players on the Orioles that the team needed to make a decision on, Hardy is probably the player you want to keep. He’s one of those jack-of-all-trades players that does everything well without one specific aspect that stands out, so even having a terrific year Hardy won’t fetch anywhere near what a name player would. The uncertainty of whether there will be free agent compensation in the next collective bargaining agreement also serves to slightly reduce his value to another team because his new team may lose the option of simply letting Hardy walk and collecting a supplemental draft pick.
At $22 million over 3 years (or just over $7 million a year), Hardy’s a decent bargain and you can always move a bargain. Hardy does receive a limited no-trade clause, but if a team wants to move a player badly enough, they can generally convince a player with some kind of sweetener. He’s also unlikely to block anybody in the Orioles farm system - Manny Machado is one of the best prospects in baseball, but he’s still just 18 and the Orioles have weak enough minor league depth that there will always be a place in the infield for Hardy to have significant value. By the time Machado’s up in the majors, Mark Reynolds is unlikely to be playing third base if still on the team and Brian Roberts’s injuries leave his future in question.
There’s always the question of J.J. Hardy’s health, but unlike a player who misses years at a time, such as Nick Johnson, Hardy usually at least gets on the field most of the time.
The ZiPS projection system isn’t optimistic on Hardy’s playing time either (averaging under 502 PA a year), but it’s still enough to make him 7-8 wins above replacement over the next 3 seasons. To get that kind of production elsewhere on the free agent market, you’re looking at something in the $30 million range.
While this is a good deal for Hardy, the big question remaining is what else the Orioles do this trade deadline. Hardy’s worth keeping around, but most of the team isn’t. If the O’s follow up this signing by deciding that the 2011 team was just unlucky and continue to simply bring in veterans on the margins, 2012 will look a lot like 2011. If on the other hand, the Orioles choose to simply stand pat and hope everything just magically works out better in 2012, next year will look a lot like this year. But call this signing a solid B+.
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