By Evan Brunell
The Orioles are so pleased with J.J. Hardy's play that GM Andy MacPhail intends to discuss a possible contract extension before the season ends with the shortstop, Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal reports.
Hardy was acquired from the Twins in the offseason and, despite missing 25 games with a strained oblique, has been a revelation, providing his usual steady defense and adding offense not seen since 2008. Hardy's .287/.363/.473 line in 147 plate appearances would represent a career-high OPS and is flashing the 20-homer power he displayed in the past, having knocked six out of the park so far. But it's not just offense and defense where he excels.
“The game never catches him by surprise,” one Orioles official says of the shortstop who has become a favorite of skipper Buck Showalter. “He shows up, you ask him a question, he gives the right answer. And he tells (teammates) the right things instead of what they want to hear.”
Hardy, a free agent at the end of the year, would be in demand at the trade deadline should Baltimore make him available. He'd be the second-best option behind Jose Reyes, and many teams would probably prefer to acquire Hardy given the cost would be less. But it appears the O's intend to keep him for at least the next two seasons, if they can, as a bridge to hot prospect Manny Machado.
But if Hardy keeps this up, he'll be able to get a three- or four-year contract from another team. At that point, Baltimore will have to decide if the extra year or two is worth keeping Hardy around. Given Machado is just 18 and in his first full professional season, the O's shouldn't balk at three years.