Why is JJ Hardy staying in Baltimore?

July 18, 2011 |

You can count me among the collection of those who were a little surprised by Saturday’s announcement of JJ Hardy’s new deal with the Orioles.

From a financial perspective, I don’t dispute the commitment from the birds. The organization’s top prospect, Manny Machado, is learning his craft at Frederick and limited middle infield options appear on the horizon during the upcoming off-season.

An expenditure of $22 million over 3 years seems quite reasonable for the Orioles.

But, in viewing the deal from JJ Hardy’s side of the fence, I am a little perplexed. In fact, I think a few peculiar questions should exist …..

Given the perceived lack of shortstop depth in the 2012 free agent class, did Hardy’s representatives feel he couldn’t garner at least $8 million, per season, over the next few years?

Has the product of 3+ months on a last place Orioles team provided Hardy with a comfortable outlook over the next 36 months?

Is this deal really about financial security for a lifetime, as Hardy approaches his 29th birthday?
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I guess the preceding questions are a roundabout way of suggesting JJ Hardy and his agents huddled and ultimately said “let’s do the safe thing.” After all, the world knows the Orioles shortstop has realized a big league career littered with injuries and stints on the disabled list.

And, while he’s had a briefly respectable run in an Orioles uniform, it’s quite apparent Hardy is not the player envisioned during the summers of 2008 and 2008, in Milwaukee.

I’ve been quietly impressed with his transition to the leadoff role in Brian Roberts’ absence, and he’s flashed stellar defense with some consistent power potential through the first half of the season.

But, what possesses JJ Hardy to renew with the Orioles – for a modest raise – without testing the market? I’m not ranking him as the complimentary to Jose Reyes, but he would be a formidable consolation prize for a contender that needs a shortstop for the next few seasons.

Does he envision an Orioles team capable of doing something markedly better than what’s been achieved through 92 games? Maybe, he’s just comfortable here …..

Like I said, it’s a good deal for the Orioles. And, the shortstop obviously thinks it’s a contract fit for his immediate future. But, one question lingers for me …..

Why is JJ Hardy staying in Baltimore? I would really like to know.

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