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Orioles close to an extension for shortstop J.J. Hardy, no longer a Yankees option

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Well, the shortstop free agent market just got a lot uglier.

Patrick Smith

Today is a rare quiet day in October for baseball, as the Orioles and Royals prepare to start the ALCS Friday and the Giants and Cardinals begin their far less exciting NLCS matchup on Saturday. However, it seems like the O's aren't going to be fully quiet today, and the news that's breaking certainly impacts the Yankees:

Yes, it seems that one of the best shortstops on the free agent market is no longer going to be an option for the Yankees to use to replace Derek Jeter. This news surprised me, as it's very rare for players to sign extensions so close to free agency and the open market driving up possible contracts. However, J.J. Hardy must really like Baltimore and want to stay put. Three years for about $40 million with an option for a good all-around shortstop like Hardy is a great deal for the O's.

Some fans might not have wanted the Yankees to go after Hardy since he's 32 and suffered a lapse in power this seasons after slugging over 20 homers three years in a row. However, Hardy's still an elite defender of Brendan Ryan levels with a bat that has been fairly consistent over the past eight seasons. Since the 2007 campaign, he's hit .260/.303/.417 with 92 homers, 16.0 fWAR, and a 94 wRC+. A 94 wRC+ might not seem especially flashy, but for an elite defensive shortstop, that's absolutely fine.

From an all-around production perspective, I definitely would have preferred the Yankees to go after Hardy at shortstop rather than the costly and risky Hanley Ramirez, the complete unknown Jung-Ho Kang, or the other lesser options (Asdrubal Cabrera, Stephen Drew). Oh well. I guess I'm on the Jed Lowrie hype train now, if one could even call it that. Sigh.