J.J. Hardy Rumors
Links from the only division in baseball that featured three 90-win teams in 2012...
- Rays executive VP of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said he’s still looking to add a bat and, potentially, a reliever, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports (on Twitter). The Rays could also settle some arbitration cases before Friday’s deadline for exchanging figures with eligible players.
- The Blue Jays seek a reliever for the back end of their bullpen, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports (Twitter link). Heyman suggests setup relievers such as free agents Francisco Rodriguez, Matt Lindstrom, Matt Capps, Juan Carlos Oviedo, Jose Valverde and Kyle Farnsworth could be fits.
- The Orioles aren’t interested in trading J.J. Hardy to the Tigers for Rick Porcello, but Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports wonders if Baltimore would consider dealing closer Jim Johnson to acquire the 24-year-old ground ball pitcher.
- The Yankees were "fired up" to hear that they're on track get a compensatory draft pick for losing Rafael Soriano to the Nationals, ESPN.com's Buster Olney reports (on Twitter).
Here's today's look at the American League East..
- Trade talks involving Chris Dickerson never came to life after the outfielder was designated for assignment, reports Chad Jennings of The Journal News. Teams expected him to be released and available as a free agent, and sure enough the Yankees released him on Saturday.
- When asked if the Orioles would have to be overwhelmed to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy, manager Buck Showalter responded "What word is above "overwhelmed?", tweets Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The Tigers reportedly wanted Hardy in a three-way deal in order to ship Rick Porcello to the Cubs.
- The Yankees are still interested in acquiring a right-handed bat but one baseball official says that the club remains in a holding pattern, writes Dan Martin of the New York Post. The Bombers are interested in Scott Hairston but the outfielder is holding out for a two-year deal while the Nats aren't in a rush to trade Michael Morse.
- A source tells Rob Bradford of WEEI.com that the Red Sox have shown interest in free agents Casey Kotchman and Lyle Overbay, but there's "nothing active" right now on either front. We learned yesterday that Boston has explored signing Kotchman as well as Nick Johnson.
- Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald looks at what it might take for the Red Sox to pry Mike Morse away from the Nationals.
Mike Axisa contributed to this post.
The Tigers and Cubs are discussing a potential three-way trade that would send Rick Porcello to Chicago with the Orioles as the third party, according to Roch Kubatko of MASNsports.com. The Tigers want Baltimore involved because they want shortstop J.J. Hardy and they don't feel that the Cubs have the necessary components to make it a two-team trade.
For the O's to part ways with Hardy in a deal, the Cubs would have to send pitching to the Orioles. However, Kubatko thinks that the O's will have to be overwhelmed by an offer in order to part with Hardy. Dan Duquette & Co. are happy with the left side of their infield and they don't intend on moving Manny Machado to shortstop this year.
The Orioles are also one of the teams that are interested in Porcello and it's logical to think that they could just hammer out a two-team swap with the Tigers instead. The Padres, Mariners, and Pirates have also expressed interest in the right-hander recently. The 24-year-old posted a 4.59 ERA with 5.5 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 and a 53.2% ground ball rate last season and is under team control through 2015.
The AL East is one of two divisions with a pair of 90-win teams (NL East is the other), but the Rays can make it three 90-win teams if they win four of their final five games. Here's the latest from Tampa Bay's division...
- "I always said I signed that deal because I saw that there was potential with this team and organization," said Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy to Steve Melewski of MASNSports.com when asked about the three-year contract extension he signed last summer. "To be honest, I didn't think it was going to happen this quick. I saw a process that was headed in the right direction."
- Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports explains why the Blue Jays should trade manager John Farrell to the Red Sox for a Major League player this offseason. Boston is known to have managerial interest in their former pitching coach.
- Richard Griffin of The Toronto Star lays out a five-step plan to help the Blue Jays improve going into next year. Unsurprisingly, one of the first steps is to secure a better starting rotation.
- The Red Sox are on the verge of landing a protected first round draft pick, writes Brian MacPherson of The Providence Journal. The bottom nine teams will have their first rounder protected from free agent compensation this offseason.
Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy admitted that Manny Machado's presence makes him wonder about his own future with the club, tweets Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun. The veteran, who is under contract through 2014 for $7MM per season, says that he is focused on playing his best at shortstop and won't let the uncertainty hinder him. "Does it cross my mind? Yeah. I’m not going to lie. I was in the same situation in Milwaukee with Alcides Escobar coming up. I don’t know what’s going to happen," said Hardy. More Thursday night linkage..
- Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano has gone from one of baseball's most overpaid players to one of its most underrated, tweets Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com. The Cubs have one day to find a deal for Soriano if they hope to move him this season. Last week it was reported that Theo Epstein & Co. are unlikely to deal him this month.
- In his latest mailbag, a reader asked MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan if the Rangers made a mistake in extending Derek Holland before working out a deal with Matt Harrison. He writes that the club should have the financial flexibility to get both extensions done and can be expected to hammer something out with Harrison this winter. The left-hander will be eligible for free agency after the 2014 season.
- It's becoming more and more obvious by the day that the Astros and Roger Clemens are set for a reunion, says Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (video link). Rosenthal opines that the idea is embarrassing for both parties, but possibly worse on the team's end. Despite Clemens' tarnished reputation, he is still a well-liked figure in Houston who should serve as a strong gate attraction if he makes a return.
- After being cut loose by the Brewers just over a week ago, veteran Randy Wolf says that he is excited to hook on with a young Orioles squad, writes Kevin Cowherd of the Baltimore Sun. The Brewers are on the hook for most of his $9.5MM salary, with the O's covering the pro-rated portion of the MLB minimum.
Four AL East teams can be found amongst the top eight in ESPN's Future Power Rankings, which measure how well-positioned teams are for success over the next five years. The list can be found in two parts (ESPN Insider subscription required).
Here's the latest from the AL East...
- Larry Lucchino discussed his team's turbulent season both on and off the field in a radio interview on WEEI's Dennis & Callahan show (WEEI.com's Morley Quatroche has a partial transcript) and the Red Sox president didn't rule out making large changes in the offseason. "I think we’ll examine all options, absolutely,” Lucchino said. “It’s not a question of fine tuning. It’s a question of looking back to the fundamental things....do we have the right kind of system in place? You need to build it all on pitching and we will focus heavily on that, but we’ll look at everything. We’ll look under every rock.”
- With Josh Beckett a sure bet to pass through waivers, the Nationals could be a good trade partner for the Red Sox, opines Fangraphs' Dave Cameron. Beckett could give the Nats an experienced arm in the rotation once Stephen Strasburg is shut down. Cameron thinks, however, that the Red Sox would only be able to move Beckett if they agree to eat at least $20MM of the approximately $36MM owed to the right-hander through the 2014 season.
- Derek Jeter is a good bet to finish in the top six of AL MVP voting this season, which ESPN New York's Wallace Matthews points out will earn Jeter an extra $2MM if he picks up his 2014 player option with the Yankees. That option is worth $8MM, though incentives could push the value to $14MM.
- "No chance. No chance. Nada. Zero. No, not a chance," is how Jeter described his interest in someday becoming a manager, reports CSN Chicago's Jeremy Lynn.
- J.J. Hardy "makes a ton of sense" as a trade target for the Diamondbacks this winter, writes Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The Orioles could unload Hardy to make room for Manny Machado at his natural shortstop position, while the D'Backs pick up Hardy as a "stopgap" for the next two seasons until prospect Chris Owings is ready for the majors. Arizona GM Kevin Towers said yesterday that his team would likely pursue a shortstop via the trade market in the offseason as the D'Backs look to replace Stephen Drew.
Here's the latest from the AL East...
- The Rays' success with low-budget acquisitions stands out in contrast to other teams' lack of return on expensive free agents, writes Gary Shelton of the Tampa Bay Times. The Rays had a modest offseason and have baseball's second-best record, while Shelton notes the Marlins have only a .500 record after spending big last winter.
- Rays ownership's patience with the Andrew Friedman/Matt Silverman/Joe Maddon management team is a big reason why Tampa Bay has become a consistent contender, writes MLB.com's Bill Chastain.
- The Blue Jays offered David Pauley a minor league contract in March, tweets MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez. Pauley decided to sign with the Angels instead since "there was an opportunity to come and play" in Los Angeles.
- Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos "deserves a lot of credit" for Edwin Encarnacion's success in 2012, manager John Farrell tells MLB.com's Gregor Chisholm. "[Anthopoulos] is the one that has talked about him repeatedly, and consistently, with the belief that there is an above-average offensive player in there," Farrell said.
- Tsuyoshi Wada has been transferred to the 60-day disabled list, the Orioles announced today. The move creates space on the 40-man roster for right-hander Stu Pomeranz (brother of Rockies' hurler Drew Pomeranz), who had his contract selected from Triple-A. Wada is set to undergo Tommy John surgery and will miss the rest of the 2012 season.
- Fangraphs' Matt Klaassen looks at J.J. Hardy as "an excellent trade chip," though the Orioles' decision to move Hardy or any other veterans has been impacted by the club's surprising rise to the top of the standings.
- The Yankees might be wise to retain impending free agent Nick Swisher, opines Mike Axisa of the River Ave Blues blog, though signing him could be difficult given the Yankees' plan to fit their payroll under the luxury tax threshold by 2014.
- For more on the Bronx Bombers, check out this collection of Yankees notes compiled earlier today by MLBTR's Ben Nicholson-Smith.
Let's check in on the latest from Charm City...
- Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun has the breakdown of J.J. Hardy's contract extension (on Twitter). He'll earn $7MM per season from 2012-2014 with a $1.25MM signing bonus.
- Alfredo Simon's hearing in the Dominican Republic is finished and he should be back in Baltimore by Tuesday according to Dan Connolly of The Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). Simon has not been cleared or charged in his case, and it's "highly unlikely" he'll have to leave the team again this season.
- Meanwhile, the club announced in a press release that they've placed Simon on the restricted list. Third baseman Josh Bell and righty reliever Mark Worrell were recalled from Triple-A.
The Orioles now have a strong bridge in place to top prospect Manny Machado. They officially signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year, $22.5MM contract extension today, in a deal that includes an eight-team no-trade clause. Hardy is represented by LSW Baseball, as our Agency Database shows.
Hardy, 28, is hitting .278/.335/.490 in 282 plate appearances for the Orioles this season. His defense is generally regarded as above-average. The biggest concern with this deal is health, as Hardy played 104 games last year and may fall short of 130 this year. Still, it won't take 160 games a year for Hardy to be worth a $7.5MM salary. The 2012 free agent market is now down to two big-name shortstops: Jose Reyes and Jimmy Rollins.
Tim Dierkes contributed to this post. Photo courtesy of Icon SMI.
4:34pm: One holdup in the talks between Hardy and the Orioles has been concern on Hardy's part that the Orioles will trade him, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports (on Twitter).
4:02pm: The Orioles and Hardy are progressing on a three-year deal that could be worth $21-25MM, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney.
3:10pm: There's optimism from the Orioles and J.J. Hardy about a potential extension and Baltimore appears to be willing to offer a three-year deal, according to Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun (Twitter links). It's not clear how much money the Orioles will offer the shortstop, who will become a trade candidate later this month if the Orioles don't complete a long-term deal, as they hope to.
The Orioles started extension talks with Hardy in June, but that hasn't stopped other teams from inquiring about his availability. It's not surprising that general managers are taking note of the 28-year-old's play. He has a .277/.336/.496 line with 13 home runs and a $5.85MM salary so far in 2011. If the Orioles don't reach an agreement with Hardy, he'll hit the open market after the season.