J.J. Hardy Rumors
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.
Some news tidbits from Charm City...
- Teams have contacted the Orioles about J.J. Hardy, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Mark Reynolds, tweets Jon Heyman of Sports Illustrated. Jones would seemingly be untouchable and (as Heyman notes) Hardy and the Orioles are working out an extension, though Hardy would be a strong trade chip if negotiations fall apart. Reynolds and Markakis are also probably unlikely to be dealt unless Baltimore is having second thoughts about paying Markakis over $47MM between now and the end of the 2014 season.
- In a radio interview with 105.7 The Fan's Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato, ESPN's Keith Law thinks the team "should go out and deal any veteran player who is not likely to be part of the next good Orioles team. That’s anyone who is not under contract for 2013 or beyond. You’ve got to trade them for prospects, even if it’s a mid-level prospect. Trust your scouts. Go out and add the depth to your farm system. Sometimes you get lucky.” Matt Vensel of the Baltimore Sun has transcribed some of the interview's highlights, plus a link to the audio of the full interview.
- Koji Uehara "has drawn tepid interest" on the trade market due to his injury history and his age, reports MLB.com's Brittany Ghiroli. There is more interest in Jim Johnson, but the O's are considering making Johnson a starter next season and have told other teams that Johnson isn't for sale.
- Andy MacPhail tells Ghiroli that the pitching staff is "definitely something we are looking at to try to augment" at the trade deadline. To this end, if Jeremy Guthrie is traded, Baltimore would want at least one Major League-ready pitcher in return to eat Guthrie's innings.
- Also from Ghiroli, MacPhail didn't comment on his own status with the club. MacPhail's contract as Baltimore's president of baseball operations is up after this season.
The Brewers aren't done trading yet. They're working to improve the left side of their infield, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The Brewers want a definite upgrade over shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt or third baseman Casey McGehee, but they aren’t close to making a deal, since few quality infielders are available in trades.
Jamey Carroll isn’t available now and J.J. Hardy will likely sign an extension with the Orioles, according to Rosenthal. The Brewers would like to obtain a player with a good glove and they can consider adding payroll on a case-by-case basis.
Brewers shortstops (Betancourt, Craig Counsell and Josh Wilson) have combined to rank 28th in MLB with a .267 OBP. Brewers third basemen (mostly McGehee and Counsell) rank 28th in MLB with a .206 average, a .264 OBP and a .277 slugging percentage. Betancourt has a .237/.255/.342 line while McGehee checks in at .223/.279/.315.
Players who have performed well this month are more likely to intrigue buyers for at least two reasons. First of all, strong performance is an indication of health. Secondly, MLB teams have diverted some scouting efforts from amateurs to the pros since this year’s draft concluded about a month ago.
As a result, it’s fair to say that players who have been performing well this past month are more likely to draw interest at the trade deadline than players with similar overall numbers who had hot starts then cooled off later in the season. Here’s a look at some players who have been performing particularly well over the course of the past 30 days:
- Michael Cuddyer - The Twins aren’t prepared to sell yet, but Cuddyer would be a candidate to go if they do decide 2011 isn’t their year. He has a .378/.458/.633 line this month.
- Melky Cabrera - Cabrera is under team control through 2012 as an arbitration eligible player, so Kansas City’s front office may decide to keep him around for another year. His .342/.374/.470 line this month would appeal to contenders, though.
- Mark Reynolds - The slugger has ten homers in the past 30 days after starting the season slowly. He earns $7.5MM in 2012 and has an $11MM option for 2013 ($500K buyout).
- J.J. Hardy - Like Reynolds, Hardy had a power surge this month. He hit seven homers and added a .269/.306/.600 line. The Orioles are negotiating an extension with the shortstop, so there’s a good chance he stays in Baltimore.
- Coco Crisp - Crisp has a respectable .298/.364/.426 line this month.
- Carlos Pena - Like Reynolds, Pena strikes out a ton and has a low batting average. But his hot streaks can carry teams and he hit ten homers with a .240/.306/.600 line this month. Tim Dierkes examined Pena as a trade candidate earlier today.
- Livan Hernandez - GM Mike Rizzo says the Nationals will be buyers and sellers this month. Presumably some rival clubs are hoping the dependable Hernandez is available this summer, since he has a 3.62 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
- Edwin Jackson - It’s not surprising that clubs are inquiring on Jackson given that he has posted a 4.05 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month. And his 2.52 xFIP suggests he has pitched better than his ERA indicates.
- Ryan Dempster - Across town, Dempster could draw interest as well. The right-hander has a 2.59 ERA with 7.8 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9 this month.
- Carlos Villanueva - Though he may not be a trade candidate in the traditional sense, Villanueva’s success in the rotation has presumably drawn the attention of front offices around baseball. He has a 2.84 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 this month.
- Hiroki Kuroda - Kuroda will require compensation to waive his no-trade clause, but he is already drawing interest. The right-hander has a 2.30 ERA with 5.7 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 this month.
- Aramis Ramirez, Jose Reyes and Hunter Pence have been playing well, but it seems unlikely that they'll be dealt this month. I’m ignoring relievers, since many relievers have worked ten innings or less this month and that’s a minute sample size.