Apparently, the Orioles' recent free agent spending spree wasn't extravagant enough to prevent them from thinking about the future. The club has touched base with shortstop J.J. Hardy about a potential contract extension, according to the Baltimore Sun's Eduardo A. Encina.
Hardy, 31, has posted back-to-back Gold Gloves for the Orioles, and produced consistent power numbers since being traded to Baltimore from the Twins in 2010.
In three seasons, with the team, Hardy has hit .256/.298/.434 with 77 home runs. His below-average on-base abilities have been masked well by his elite glove and considerable pop -- a rarity at short. Since 2011, he has led all shortstops in home runs and runs batted in.
Baltimore's new deals with Ubaldo Jimenez and Nelson Cruz have pushed their 2013 payroll close to the $100 million threshold, but those new commitments don't appear to be a major hurdle for negotiations with Hardy. The team will also need to begin considering an extension for 2013 home run leader Chris Davis, and perhaps, young players like Manny Machado, Kevin Gausman, and Dylan Bundy.
There aren't many good comparisons for Hardy in terms of glove-first shortstops in their 30s who have recently signed an extension, so the Orioles will likely be treading in somewhat uncharted waters. However, Hardy's age will likely limit the length of a potential deal.
Manny Machado's natural position is shortstop, but his ability to transition to third has given the Orioles an opportunity to boast one of the most dynamic left-side duos in the game. On the other hand, if the Hardy and the O's can't come to an agreement, Baltimore has a more than capable backup plan.