Yesterday I wrote about the prospect of the Baltimore Orioles perhaps exploring a trade for catcher Matt Wieters. Today the topic du jour is the potential of the Birds trading J.J. Hardy. Some of the news that trickled out of the GM meetings yesterday was that the O’s had offered shortstop J.J. Hardy to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for pitcher Shelby Miller. Ultimately the reports are that St. Louis nixed the deal, however it also appears clear that this was merely a preliminary trade discussion, not unlike what goes on through the normal flow of baseball executive meetings.
So where do fans stand on this? We know what Hardy can do and has done; Miller was 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA in 2013, and was an NL rookie of the year candidate. Miller is exactly the type of pitcher that the Orioles are probably looking for, and I would submit that they would immediately be a much better team with someone like him on staff. So with that being a given, would fans be comfortable parting with J.J. Hardy?
The fact is that Hardy’s entering a contract year, so now might be an ideal time to trade him. But…should the Orioles rid themselves of a gold glove and silver slugger award shortstop? The argument in favor of it of course is that Manny Machado can slide over and play short. But while that’s his natural position it’s also a position he hasn’t played in some time. Machado of course is also coming off of an injury, and it’s still unclear whether or not he’ll be ready for Opening Day. I suspect that the Orioles could stick Danny Valencia at third base with Machado moving over to short stop, however would that weaken the infield?
The answer is of course it would. It’s all really a matter of how big a risk the Orioles are willing to take. It also comes down to whether or not the Birds can find a decent pitcher that wouldn’t require them to give up someone like J.J. Hardy. Ultimately I think a move like this makes a great number of people nervous, as well as happy. So where do I stand? I would say that if a sweetheart deal comes along, the Orioles should consider pulling the trigger. But they also need to be wary of having Hardy wrestled away from them for next-to-nothing.