Non-Tender Candidate: J.J. Hardy

My listing of Twins shortstop J.J. Hardy yesterday as a non-tender candidate inspired much debate in our comments section.  Let's dig deeper into the situation.

In terms of Wins Above Replacement, Hardy's 1.8 this year ranks fifth in the American League on the FanGraphs leaderboard.  Hardy's done this in only 70 games, as he's missed time due to a bruised wrist.  His bat his been about league average for AL shortstops, while much of his value is derived from what UZR/150 suggests is well above-average defense.  Hardy has been strong in UZR every year of his career, not just the 580 innings in 2010.

However, I am guessing the Twins will not look closely at WAR when making the decision on whether to tender Hardy a 2011 contract in December.  They'll first need to determine how much Hardy will seek or earn for next year, his final season before free agency.  It's promising that Twins only needed to give Hardy a $450K raise coming off a disappointing 2009 season.  They might be able to sign him for less than $6MM one last time.  Hardy can't be too aggressive in his salary demands, as his agent Mike Seal surely knows that UZR numbers probably won't help his client in front of an arbitration panel and weak offensive counting stats would hurt him.

The Twins probably haven't decided yet whether Hardy is worth $6MM or so to them in 2011.  They'll be considering alternatives.  Trevor Plouffe is an internal option, though his work in a second Triple A stint doesn't stand out.  Alexi Casilla will be around next year as well.  The free agent market is weak, with Juan Uribe one of the better options the Twins can consider.  The trade market could offer Stephen Drew, Jamey Carroll, Jack Wilson, or even a second round with Jason Bartlett.

With those thoughts, it's time for you to weigh in.  Click here to vote on whether Hardy will be non-tendered, and here to see the results of the poll.


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27 Comments on "Non-Tender Candidate: J.J. Hardy"


ugen64
4 years 11 months ago

I think he gets non-tendered and the Orioles sign him for around 1 year / $5 million. He’s not going to be any worse than Izturis (whose defense has been declining to go along with his terrible offense), but seeing as he’ll only be 28 years old, there’s still a chance he can regain his former potential.

Sockmonkey23
4 years 11 months ago

Good Lord, if the Orioles get the opportunity to sign him for $5MM/yr, I sure hope they lock him up for a few years.

Minn. will almost certainly offer him a contract and arbitration if he doesn’t sign it. Is he a type A or B (the Elias thing on this site doesn’t come through my firewall at work)? I assume B…if A, he really doesn’t want to get offered arbitration because he can’t decline it, nobody’s going to sign him to a fair-value contract and give up the pick.

4 years 11 months ago

Elias rankings not a factor here…it’s just a decision of tender vs. non-tender.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

Very very disapointing year for Hardy but even when healthy he hasn’t been hitting. I really thought that after his hot start to the season, he and Carlos Gomez would prove that the trade was worth it on both sides…But nope.

If he is non-tendered, maybe the Twins could trade for someone like Marco Scutaro or Rafael Furcal. But Trevor Plouffe deserves a shot.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

If you consider him “very very disapointing [sic]”, you had unrealistic expectations. Fangraphs ranks him 5th in hitting amongst SS in the AL. His OPS+ is up 15 points from last year. He’s provided average hitting.His defense has been every bit as good as always. The Twins traded for him knowing they were getting a very strong glove, and some hitting upside – which has bounced about half-way back to his all-star numbers.

Dave_Gershman
4 years 11 months ago

2009 was disastrous for Hardy. Much due to an injury shortened season. Yes it’s very very disapointing because the Twins expected much more.

His OPS is .709. Yes his defense is above average but the Twins didn’t acquire him for his defense. Nick Punto could be better defensively at shortstop but Nick Punto doesn’t hit much.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

What are you talking about?

http://minnesota.twins.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20091106&content_id=7631250&vkey=news_min&fext=.jsp&c_id=min

Smith cited JJ’s defense as the premiere asset – “He’s a true shortstop. He’s got a good arm. He’s got good range…”

Smith also says, “To give up Carlos Gomez, where we are going to give up four years of control, it’s important to get somebody that we are going to have for more than a year. It’s a positive for us to have J.J. Hardy and the ability to keep him for a couple years. We’ll see what happens. We might keep him for a lot longer than that.”

Also, he played 118 games for Milwaukee in 2009, and 18 in AAA-Nashville. He missed more time to being benched than injury.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

I’m flattered I was able to contribute to the inspiration for an MLBTR posting!

Very valid points about his arbitration case being weak considering UZR/WAR are not mainstream categories an arbitrator will look at. Also the weak FA market.

Contrary to some, I think Hardy has actually exceeded expectations – his OPS+ is at 91, up from 76 in 2009. He hasn’t regained all-star form, but he’s certainly doing better than last year. It’s worth noting that when Smith made the trade for Hardy, he indicated it gave the Twins multiple-years at SS. The fact the Twins 1) traded for him hoping for a few years, and 2) he has performed better than last year and around league-average, gives little indication the front office should be unhappy with him.

Add in that the Twins put a premium on defense, especially up the middle, and he’s a great fit.

There’s little reason to think a team with the 10th highest payroll – one of the few teams adding payroll, and projected to do so next year as Target Field revenues have exceeded projections – will balk at spending $6-7M on a SS; especially considering the alternatives. Plouffe isn’t ready to take over full-time, Harris has lost favor with the club, Punto has always been best used as a utility guy (and an easy decline on his option), and Uribe could easily go for the same price (and/or more years) in a player’s market at the position.

Pat_M
4 years 11 months ago

Yes the Twins put a premium on defense, but not a $6M+ premium. The Twins already owe an $11.5M raise to Joe Mauer, ~$2M raises to Cuddyer, Kubel, and Baker, and substantial arbitration raises to Liriano and Capps. Pavano and Hudson are free agents as well.
I just don’t think they can afford a strong glove/weak bat (w/ some upside) shortstop. Especially when players like Alex Gonzalez (good glove/questionable bat) are around every off-season for ~$2M.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

I actually had a beer with Carl last Saturday night. He’s loving it here, and is eager to strike a 3-year deal for a reasonable price. He could actually return at a discount next year, as far as annual salary goes. The bigger question there is whether or not the Twins are willing to give him the years he wants – the money is secondary.

Yes, there’s raises you cite, but they’re going to let Hudson walk, and that alone covers Cuddy/Kubel/Baker. Mauer/Liriano/Capps will be covered by a few spare parts departing, and increased revenues from Target Field.

Don’t underestimate the fact that Target Field is making $1M in revenues on concessions alone every home game – something the Twins did not receive in the Metrodome, and something that has far exceeded their projections. There’s very good reason to anticipate, if the Pohlad’s follow the on-field-reinvestment-rate they have the past decade, that the Twins will expand payroll another $10-15M.

twins33
4 years 11 months ago

I’ve gone back and forth with whether I wanted Pavano back, but most of me leans towards “yes.” Our pitchers clearly do better with a vet in the rotation. Every time we try to do it without a vet they seem lost and unsure of how to pitch. Pavano has been even better than expected since he joined the team.

I just don’t know what’s a fair deal. He’ll be 35 next year and has an injury history. I really wouldn’t want to give him more than somewhere around 15 total. It’s a risk, but the Twins really don’t have many other options out there. Pavano fits.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

3yr/$15m is about as high as I’d be comfortable with. Anything more and you’re really risking it looking regretful on the back-end.

One thing to keep in mind with Carl is, while he missed the better part of 4-years to injury, it also means his 35-year old body has the arm-fatigue of a 31-year old, because he doesn’t have nearly the pitch count during all that injury time.

In spite of his stated interest in coming back, and the Twins clear interest in having him return, I suspect there’s going to be someone out there throwing 2yr/$20m at him, and that’ll just be too lucrative for him to pass up.

Ethanator99
4 years 11 months ago

If he is non-tendered I hope the Reds pick him up. Cabrera will be gone and the Reds need a SS. Also before he was traded to the Twins the Reds showed interest but the Brewers didn’t want to trade in the division.

haymaker9
4 years 11 months ago

The Orioles could definitely use him next year. Shortstop options are thin all across the board in MLB, and Hardy’s excellent defense would be a big boost behind the young guns Baltimore will throw out on the hill next year. I can even see them overpaying for him (IF he’s available) to make sure they have the position filled until Manny Machado makes it to the bigs.

$1529282
4 years 11 months ago

Hardy posted an .863 OPS in July and an .837 OPS in August so far. Anyone who says he’s “not hitting even when he’s healthy” needs to re-think that statement. He’s got a .901 second half OPS and is playing better defense than any shortstop in the majors with at least 550 innings (granted, I realize how small of a sample size that is).

He should certainly be tendered a contract, and I’d guess that his bat helps prove that over the last six weeks of the season. No, he won’t continue with his .900 OPS clip, but he can certainly be a productive offensive shortstop and an elite fielding one as well.

Hardy gets tendered a contract, and personally, I’d love to see a two- or three-year extension on the cheap before his value gets all the way back up.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

82% currently agree he’ll be tendered a contract; 17% are Orioles fans.

Do you think the fact he was sent down last year led to him playing through injury to keep a spot on a big-league roster when he rightly should have taken a DL-stint? I’ve heard it said he’s quite determined to re-establish himself in the majors.

Plouffe is the big X factor in my book as far as an extension beyond next year. If he develops into a reliable starter, Hardy is gone. If he continues to look like Harris with less service time, giving Hardy 3yr/$15m makes perfect sense. Fortunately, the Twinks still have a year to make that decision and watch Plouffe’s development…

Jesse Lund
4 years 11 months ago

He’ll definitely be tendered a contract. For his defense, and considering the internal options and the free agent market, paying him $6 million is going to be a pretty sound investment in terms of talent.

Bryz
4 years 11 months ago

What bothers me is that people keep citing Hardy’s offensive numbers, but what they always tend to ignore is that he played through a wrist injury for part of the season. During this time, his offensive numbers took a huge hit. If we removed that poor stretch when he probably shouldn’t have even played, his offensive numbers (i.e. AVG/OBP/SLG) would look much better.

Also, the Twins probably don’t look at UZR, but just watching Hardy play defense this year, you can see that he catches nearly everything that’s hit at him, and he has one of the best shortstop arms I’ve seen in my short life. When the Twins traded Gomez for Hardy, they knew they were receiving a good defensive shortstop with some offensive upside. The fact that he has an average bat right now, and it’s an improvement over last year, has got to be an encouraging sign for the Twins this year. Hardy will get his 2011 contract.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

The Twins fundamental philosophy for defense is “Make all the plays that you’re supposed to.” They rely far more heavily on first-hand scouting reports than advanced metrics. They want to talk to a scout and ask how a guy moves off the crack of the bat, what kind of first-step quickness he has, and if he makes all the plays he’s supposed to make.

Obviously, this has drawn the ire of the advanced metrics crowd, but it definitely means you’re right-on when you say the “Twins probably don’t look at UZR”.

$1529282
4 years 11 months ago

I hate how true this statement is… but the man’s right. They’ll probably non-tender JJ for a lack of RBI, just like they traded for Capps because he has 93 big league saves. Oooooo, look, a shiny outdated stat. Bill Smith likey.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

Have faith, young Padawan. It’s not just Smith’s formula – Terry Ryan employed it long ago, and it’s been generally successful. Of course, TR was a scouting guy, so he put a premium on all those little things that box scores can’t capture.

“This guy isn’t showing much slugging, but he’s driving the ball real hard.”
“He’s doesn’t have great range (UZR loves range) but he turns the double play like a gold glove veteran.”
“The guy’s fielding is poor, but we’re watching him get bad jumps off the crack of the bat, and we can fix that. He’s a great buy-low investment.”

All those kinds of things are poorly captured by the advanced metrics, and require eyes on the ground. Smith has frequently talked about how the Twins front office doesn’t want to read about a guy’s UZR – they want to talk to a trusted man on the ground who says, “This kid has real pop, the ball explodes off his bat here in North Carolina high school baseball”.

I’m not dismissing metrics as important once you have an established sample size, but they’re not very good at identifying potential talent – how do metrics stack up for a 17-year old kid? And the Twins have done a great job at finding talent seemingly out of nowhere – as Ozzy Guillen bemoans.

$1529282
4 years 11 months ago

I understand that there are things in that don’t show up in statistics. I also understand, however, that the point of sabermetrics and advanced stats are to make some of those things show up. You can look at a player’s line drive percentage and see that he’s hitting the ball hard but that they’re not falling in, for example.

My comment was more just intended as a jab at Smith in general. I still think the Capps trade was abysmal, and to hear him actually cite Capps’ career saves total as a reason for his acquisition was painful.

“Saves” in general are a joke of a statistic. They’re no more telling of a pitcher’s ability than a Win or a Loss. In fact, they’re less, sadly. And our general manager still saw fit to use them as a rationale for acquiring a guy who’s really, at his best, maybe the 50th-best reliever in MLB? Probably not even.

But that’s another topic for another day. My frustration with the Twins’ front office is that these stats exist for a reason, and they’ve been adopted by other teams for a reason. If you’re not using all the tools available at your disposal, then you’re not doing the best job possible.

TwinsVet
4 years 11 months ago

I don’t disagree with a thing you said.

twins33
4 years 11 months ago

Well, I agree with everyone else who thinks it’s nuts to non-tender him. Hardy is performing better than expected. We gave up a player who, at this point (and maybe forever), is way worse than him.

Hardy’s D is excellent. His offense has been great for the last month or more. He’s been dealing with a wrist injury (bone bruises are tough to fight against) for a huge chunk of the season. We haven’t seen the true Hardy yet…and I think I’ll be even more happy than I already am when that happens.

I’m hoping, like I believe TwinsVet said in the other post, that we get him to a three year deal for 5-6 per. It should be an easy decision when you think about the fact that the replacements for him aren’t as good as him. It wouldn’t make sense to let him go for someone that isn’t even equal. So what if the replacements are cheaper, Twins fans know how that’s worked out for us the past few years. Give the guy a mult-year deal while we can.

4 years 11 months ago

3 years for 20MM it’s fair?

$1529282
4 years 11 months ago

I think Hardy would absolutely take that deal, given the fact that he hasn’t really dazzled in the past two seasons and seems to enjoy being in Minnesota.

I think three years and a $15MM-$20MM would be a very reasonable offer. He’s going to be around $6MM in 2011, and that deal gives Hardy the security of tripling that figure while providing the Twins with a terrific defensive asset who has the offensive upside to well exceed that contract in terms of value.

gkasper
4 years 11 months ago

He will definitely be back next year. The Twins love him. We did not trade Gomez for one year of J.J. we traded him for two. This was a move to lock in a shortstop and fill what had been a huge hole for a long time. I wouldn’t even be surprised if Hardy was brought back to the team AFTER his contract expires. That would depend on his performance next season. His defense has been lights out.