Over the weekend, details emerged about the Orioles three year extension for shortstop J.J. Hardy. Though nothing official has been announced, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports reports that Hardy’s deal is worth $22.25 million and that he has a no trade clause with eight teams per season.
This news came as a breath of fresh air during what was a tough losing streak for the Orioles. Here’s five reasons why this deal was so important.
- Bridging the Machado gap – Unless something goes terribly awry, the Orioles have their shortstop of the future in Manny Machado. He’s at Single-A Frederick now after hitting .276 with six homers and 24 RBI in 38 games with the Shorebirds. Machado was recently listed number five on Keith Law’s top prospects list, but he is at least a couple seasons away. With Hardy, the Orioles should bridge the gap between now and the Machado era and hopefully have some overlap with a major league veteran when he is called up. It is one less thing that Andy MacPhail will have to worry about down the road.
- Replacing Roberts - Let’s be honest, no one truly knows when Brian Roberts will return to the Orioles lineup. It’s now being rumored that he could be headed to the 60-day disabled list. While Hardy plays a different position, he patches some of he many holes that Roberts has left behind during his time on the bench. For starters, Hardy has earned the role of leadoff hitter this season, hitting .273 with 9 homers and 16 RBI in that spot this season. He also provides speed for the Birds at the top of the order and gets on base in over 1/3 of his at bats in the leadoff role.
- A fan of Camden Yards - Hardy’s batting average at Oriole Park at Camden Yards is almost .050 points higher than it is on the road. At home, Hardy hits .298 with a .370 OBP, six homers and 14 RBI. He’s definitely become a fan of what Camden Yards has to offer right handed batters and now will be hitting there 81 games out of the year for the next three seasons.
- DEEE-FENSE! – Hardy has a .994 fielding percentage with the O’s this season and has helped turn 35 double plays. He has just two errors and over his career has never had a fielding percentage under .975. He’s a solid middle infielder and who can turn two with the help of a decent second baseman.
- A fan favorite – How many George Sherrill, Aubrey Huff and Adam Loewen t-shirts do you have tucked away in your closet? Thankfully Hardy won’t be one of those guys whose career is short lived in Baltimore. Your Hardy t-shirt is safe to bring out to the Yard. Now we just need to come up with a nickname for the guy.
The naysayers will point to Hardy’s injuries over his career, but in my opinion these would’ve been the same people that would’ve called the Orioles cheap for letting him walk at the end of the year. Signing J.J. Hardy is nothing but a positive. What’s your favorite reason?