Orioles rumors: J.J. Hardy contract extension discussed, veteran starting pitching pursued

J. Meric

The Orioles have begun extension talks with their starting shortstop amid their attempt to shore up their rotation.

The Baltimore Orioles are looking into working on a contract extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy and adding a veteran starting pitcher, executive vice president Dan Duquette said in an interview on Tuesday with WBAL Radio (via MASNsports.com's Roch Kubatko).

More from Camden Chat: O's avoid arbitration with Wieters

Hardy, 31, hit .263/.306/.433 with 25 home runs and was named to his second All-Star team in 2013. He is due to be a free agent after this season, but the Orioles hope to get the extension done before Opening Day, Duquette said. Hardy is one of the better defensive shortstops in the game, sitting at 52 runs above average at the position during his nine-year career. His presence allows 21-year-old Manny Machado, who ascended through the minors as a shortstop, to remain at third base. Machado last season was 32 runs above average at the hot corner, which was the best mark for any player at any position in MLB.

The Orioles are interested in the same pitching options as "four to five other teams," so they'll likely have to engage in a bidding war to fill that hole. The team lost 2013 starters Jason Hammel and Scott Feldman to free agency, but Baltimore has a couple of highly touted prospects in Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy who are capable of stepping into the rotation.

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