Should Orioles consider a J.J. Hardy trade?

Should Orioles consider a J.J. Hardy trade?
November 13, 2013, 12:15 pm
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(Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports)

Trade talk is fun for fans. They like to read about proposed trades and love to make up their own ones.

Of course, there were rumored deals at the general manager’s meetings in Orlando, Fla., and naturally the Orioles have been mentioned.

Wednesday morning, there was a report by Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that the Orioles and St. Louis Cardinals had discussed a trade of J.J. Hardy for young right-hander Shelby Miller.

According to Heyman, “St. Louis told Baltimore there’s no deal to be made.” I have no idea if that’s true, but I’m glad it wasn’t made.

Earlier this week I argued that the Orioles shouldn’t consider trading Matt Wieters—not yet, anyway. Now, it’s Hardy’s turn.

Hardy is the ultimate low maintenance player. He plays all the time, hits for power, fields well and is liked by his teammates and media.

His talents have been recognized.

And, he’s shown he wanted to stay in Baltimore. In July 2011, before the Orioles began getting respectable, Hardy signed a three-year, below market extension, one he hasn’t regretted. When Troy Tulowitzki signed a longer deal with more dollars, Hardy didn’t ask to renegotiate.

Manager Buck Showalter would love to keep Hardy around for another few years. At 31, Hardy is in his prime, and keeping him would quiet the Machado to shortstop talk, too.

He has another year left on his deal, and yes, the Orioles should try to extend him.

As for Miller, he’s something of a mystery. The Cardinals are stacked with young pitchers. Miller, who came in third in National League Rookie of the Year voting, pitched only an inning in the Division Series and not at all in the National League Championship Series or World Series.

Miller was 15-6 with a 3.09 ERA. He averaged nearly a strikeout an inning and just a home run per nine innings. The Orioles would obviously have interest in a young pitcher like that.

Last January, there was talk of a three-way trade involving the Cubs and Tigers where Hardy would have been dealt and the Orioles would have added Detroit’s Rick Porcello. At the time, trading Hardy for a contender’s fifth starter seemed a shaky premise.

Now, Miller projects as St. Louis’ fifth starter behind Adam Wainwright, Lance Lynn, Michael Wacha and Joe Kelly.

For the Orioles to trade Hardy, they would have to be overwhelmed, and Miller alone doesn’t seem to be overwhelming enough.

Lots of other potential trades have been rumored, but the most interesting development to come out of the GM meetings was Joe Torre’s report on home plate collisions.

Torre, now a top aide to commissioner Bud Selig, is spearheading the adoption of replay for 2014. He spoke with general managers at the meetings about eliminating risky collisions.

It will continue to be discussed at the Winter Meetings next month, also in Orlando.

“When it gets to the rules committee, you’re going to have very understanding people there, a feeling that something has to be done,” Torre said. “The players are bigger, stronger, faster. It’s like in other sports. They’ve made adjustments and rules in other sports for that reason, to protect people.”

San Francisco’s Buster Posey lost nearly a full season in 2011 due to a collision.

A rules change will need the approval of the Players Association.

Replay will need the approval of both the players and umpires. Baseball hopes to have the needed approvals by January.

NOTES: The Arizona Fall League regular season ends on Thursday. The Surprise Saguaros, managed by Bowie’s Gary Kendall, have won the West Division and will play either the Mesa Solar Sox or Salt River Rafters in the AFL championship game on Saturday.

Henry Urrutia is batting .394 with three home runs and 14 RBIs. Jonathan Schoop is batting .186 and Eduardo Rodriguez, who will start Saturday’s championship game, is 0-1 with a 5.52 ERA. Tim Berry is 2-0 with a 1.84 ERA.