PITTSBURGH - JUNE 21: J.J. Hardy #2 of the Baltimore Orioles is congratulated by third base coach Willie Randolph #13 after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the game on June 21, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
According to Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Orioles have signed shortstop J.J. Hardy to a three-year extension. No official terms of the deal have been announced yet, but Zrebiec believes the deal will pay Hardy between $7-$8 million annually.
The Orioles acquired Hardy from the Minnesota Twins in the offseason and the low-risk, high reward investment has paid off. Hardy is batting .275/.333/.490 with 13 HR's in 274 PA's in 2011. Not only is Hardy having a solid season at the plate, but he is one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.
Despite Hardy's extension coming with an injury risk (he has played in over 150 games just once in his career), I think this is a pretty good deal for the Orioles.
I think this is a good deal because the unfortunate reality for baseball is that there are maybe 10-11 quality shortstops out there. In a 30-team league, that is not that impressive. Finding an everyday shortstop is not an easy thing to do and now the Orioles have one locked up to a reasonable salary for the next three seasons.
As a side note, this deal is a crushing blow to any team looking for a shortstop at the trade deadline. Hardy was the best alternative to New York Mets SS Jose Reyes for teams not looking to give up the farm for a shortstop.