The Baltimore Orioles have one of the best left sides of the infield in the big leagues when both Manny Machado and J.J. Hardy are healthy. With Machado’s ability to make spectacular plays, it was always assumed that the team would eventually move Machado to shortstop.
That plan would include that the Orioles let Hardy walk as a free agent at the end of the 2014 season. But with a second serious knee injury for Machado, that plan might be in flux.
As Steve Melewski of MASN writes, the Orioles might need to take a different look at what to do when Hardy hits the market this winter:
Right now would seem a strange time to talk to Hardy about an extension with the team weeks away from what they hope will be a long playoff run. But maybe as soon as this season ends, the club will need to engage their shortstop in serious talks.
On a team that values defense to the extent the Orioles do, can the club afford to lose Hardy while Machado enters 2015 coming off a second knee surgery?
Hardy has been solid this season, though that fact has been overlooked from time to time because his power numbers are down. The veteran shortstop is batting .285/.317/.391 with seven home runs and 43 driven in. That combined with his usual solid defense makes him an above average option at one of the most important positions on the field.
J.J. Hardy will be key to the Orioles’ playoff run this season, and as things take shape around him, he might be a key player for the Orioles in future seasons as well.