Is Hardy’s pending future with the O’s still tied to Machado?

JJ Hardy recently completed his 3rd season as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. Back in July 2011, the SS signed a 3 year extension with the O’s through the 2014 season.

When Hardy signed that extension, the prevailing thought among O’s fans was that Hardy’s ability to stay in Baltimore over the duration of that contract was going to be tied to development of Manny Machado.

(You can discuss this post on the BSL Board here.)

Is Hardy’s pending future with the O’s still tied to Machado? Should it be? What do you think Hardy’s future with the O’s should be?

My thoughts are that while Hardy is past his prime, he is still relatively young (he turned 31 in August); even for a Middle Infielder. In 2011, and through the 2012 season, I would have leaned towards the idea of ultimately wanting Machado to take over SS for the Birds. At this point, Machado’s play at 3rd has been so overwhelming that I think that is where he should remain. I don’t see a need to have him change positions. While a bullet seems to have been dodged with Machado’s injury; that scare makes me even less concerned with moving him back to his original position.

Since I do not believe Machado should be moved, the question for me becomes do I want Hardy to continue on as the O’s SS?

When you get to that question, there are other things to consider.  Can you do better than Hardy? What would it take to retain him? What is the likely-hood of him providing the production you would need from him, to match or exceed the contract it would cost to retain him? What is the team capable of (or hoping to achieve) during the years he would be under contract? If you moved him, what could you get in return?

The answers to each of these questions begins with a review of Hardy’s 2013 season.

Offensively, there are no surprises of what Hardy is after 4,200+ ab’s in the Majors. He is a .260 hitter, that struggles to get on-base, and has some pop.

2013 saw Hardy finishing with .739 OPS, right at his career norms (.740 OPS career).

The only thing that stands out to me about Hardy’s year offensively is that after striking out 106 times in ’12, he struck out just 73 times in ’13. (K% dropping from 14.9% to 11.3%.)

Defensively his  errors doubled (from 6 to 12), and his UZR/150 dropped from 10.9 to 6.1; but you know what you are getting from him there as well. He is exceptional at making the routine play, and that has tremendous value. He has a quick release, and is good around the bag. His range won’t wow you, but you never worry about the playing being made.

While ESPN’s David Schoenfield used the qualifier that there was no obvious choice at the position; he did choose Hardy as the American League’s best SS based on those combination of skills.

One of the more important aspects of Hardy’s ’13 season is that after playing in 158 games in ’12, he played in 159 games this year. Those back-to-back years of durability are nice to see, and for me alleviate some level of concern over his availability over the next 2-3 years. Yes, he will only be more likely to incur injuries during his age 32-34 seasons, but at-least in the immediate time frame prior to that; he has shown an ability to stay in the lineup consistently.

Over the past three seasons,  FanGraphs has calculated his Wins Above Replacement and Salary worth as:
2011: 4.3 WAR, worth $19.4M
2012: 2.6 WAR, worth $11.8M
2013: 3.4 WAR, worth $16.8M

Having reviewed Hardy’s ’13 season, let’s go back to the questions.

1) Can you do better than Hardy?
Answer: The first part of answering that is identifying the time frame of the question. If you are not moving Machado to SS, it seems unlikely to me that there is a scenario where you could improve upon the league’s best returning SS for the 2014 season. Could you do better than Hardy in ’15, and ’16? That is debatable, but the odds increase with the expectation that there will be some level of regression as Hardy ages further. More on this with question 3.

2) What would it take to retain him?
Answer: If 2014 is a replication of his career norms, he will absolutely get at-least 2 years from someone, and likely 3. Most O’s fans (and likely the O’s themselves) would be comfortable with a 2 year deal through the ’16 season. The idea of a 3rd year begins to become uncomfortable for some. BSL Radio Host Rob Shields recently floated the idea of rewriting Hardy’s ’14 contract (currently scheduled to make $7M), and adding 2 additional years on that. That seems logical to me.

3) What is the likely-hood of him providing the production you would need from him, to match or exceed the contract it would cost to retain him?
Answer) Over the last 2 years, Hardy has been worth an average of $14.3M per year. If you bumped Hardy’s ’14 pay to $10M, and gave him 2 yrs $20M on top of that; I think Hardy would justify that deal.

4) What is the team capable of (or hoping to achieve) during the years he would be under contract?
Answer) The Orioles will be trying to again contend in ’14. The Front Office would only be justified in extending Hardy through ’16, if they believed he was a needed component to allow contention to continue through those seasons.

5) If you moved him, what could you get in return?
Answer) The O’s obtained Hardy prior to the 2011 season for Brent Jacobson, and Jim Hoey. At the time he was 28 years old coming off of back-to-back injury riddled seasons (he played 115 games in ’09, ’101 in ’10). Even with Hardy being 3 years older, I would imagine he currently has more trade value than he did then. While I think he might bring back more now than the O’s traded for him, I doubt he would bring back enough for me to want him moved, or not extended.

Those are my thoughts. What do you think?

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About the author


Chris Stoner   

Operations Manager

Chris Stoner founded Baltimore Sports and Life in 2009. He has appeared as a radio guest with 1090 WBAL, 105.7 The Fan, ESPN 1300, FOX 1370, WOYK 1350, WKAV 1400, and WNST 1570. You can reach him via email at Chris.Stoner@baltimoresportsandlife.com.


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3 Responses to Is Hardy’s pending future with the O’s still tied to Machado?

  1. Jeff Fisher (Fishteacher on BSL) says:

    I am 50/50 on Hardy. While he is one of my favorite ORioles due to the fact that he just goes out and plays the game “under the radar” a lot of the time, and continues to be the best fielding SS in the AL as well as the one with the most pop in his bat, I can also see the side of dealing him either this off-season OR renegotiating his contract, extending him another 2 years and trading him then, UNLESS you feel like Machado is going to stay at 3B permanently, which I am also 50/50 on. I agree with you, Stoner, I don’t think we’ll get enough of a haul from him on the trade market to really warrant dealing him, but at the same time, we need MiL depth with the possibility of attaining someone who could be ML ready in the next year or two. However, with Manny’s injury, who knows what he’ll be like moving forward. I think this is going to be a make or break year during the off-season for this franchise. If we make one or two poor moves, we could be swimming back in the bottom of the AL East with a snap.

    I really want to deal him, and be able to move Manny to SS…but then what do you do at 3B? IT’s a fairly thin position unless we go pick up a guy like Eric Chavez for a year as a stop-gap and figure out 3B later.

    Not an easy decision by any means. This is why DD is a GM, and we are not. I personally would rather just cheer or jeer at any moves we make! ;-)

  2. RICHARD WAECHTER says:

    KEEP HARDY -YOU CANT GET ANOTHER GOLD GLOVE THAT HITS .260 AND IS GREAT ON THE TEAM ,. MANNY HAS PLAYED THIRD BASE LIKE A PRO ,. HITTING .-DEFENSE . -WHERE WILL YOU GET ANOTHER 3B ./?? HOW ABOUT 2CATCHERS THAT ARE GREAT AT DEFENSE –AND HIT .260-.270 KEEP CLEANGER –TEAGARDEN —-(GO TO THE CUBS FOR CASTIO ) SEND THEM HAMMELS (A 2 MONTH PITCHER ) PATTON MATSUA -CLARK -STINSON -TRAVON ROBINSON -DICKERSON -(TEAGARDEN -ESPOSITO ) TWO PLAYERS FROM NORFOLK ., WEITERS IS A WASTE AT 5MILLION AND HITS .220 . DOESNT HIT IN THE CLUTCH (ANOTHER RIPKEN ) 18OUT OF 20 HOMERS ARE USELESS ,. HE WANTS 5MILLON HE SHOULD HIT .290 AND HIT WITH MEN ON BASE 80-100 RBIS. HE WILL LEAVE ANYWAY . NEW YORK CAN HAVE HIM .

  3. RICHARD WAECHTER says:

    THE PIRATES AND CARDINALS MAY HAVE PLAYERS TO DEAL FOR –ALSO NEED UTILATY PLAYERS . ROBERTS GOT HIS MILLIONS AND HASNT DONE ANYTHING ,. HE OWES THE CLUB AT LEAST ONE YEAR FOR NOTHING -HE DOESNT NEED ANY MONEY -HE NEEDS TO PRODUCE.

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