When the Brewers demoted slumping shortstop J.J. Hardy on August 12th, GM Doug Melvin told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that the move was performance-based and was not done to delay his free agency by a year. Talking to Anthony Witrado of the JS yesterday, Hardy and his agent Mike Seal publicly called BS on Melvin. After all, the Brewers chose the latest possible date to demote Hardy and still ensure he would not become a free agent until after the 2011 season. Melvin would point to Hardy's .229/.300/.367 batting line. Which side are you on?
Hardy was initially OK with the demotion, until his agent informed him of the Brewers' perfect timing. The Brewers may prefer the younger, cheaper Alcides Escobar as their shortstop moving forward, making Hardy a prime offseason trade candidate. Even with a pay cut, Hardy will make at least $3.7MM in 2010 if tendered a contract. That seems a worthwhile gamble - FanGraphs had Hardy as a 4+ win player in each of the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
Which teams might pursue the 27 year-old shortstop? Rumors linking Boston to Hardy date back to at least June. Perhaps the Twins could renew their winter interest. The Blue Jays and A's may also make sense.