Duquette on not shopping Hardy (w/ Wieters note)

The Orioles top priority remains upgrading their pitching staff and one of the names drawing the most outside interest in a trade is shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose name surfaced in a potential deal rejected by the Cardinals on Wednesday.

An industry source confirmed on Wednesday CBSSPorts.com’s report that the Orioles asked St. Louis —who is looking for a shortstop— for pitcher Shelby Miller’s name surfaced, a deal that was quickly struck down by the Cards. And while Hardy’s name will continue to come up in offseason rumblings, the O’s aren’t actively trying to move him so much as just listening to other teams’ offers.

“We are not shopping J.J. Hardy,” executive vice president of Dan Duquette told MLB.com from the GM meetings in Orlando, Fla. “The fact that other clubs might be interested in him would be a good reflection on the kind of year that he had. He had a great year. He won the Silver Slugger and he won the Gold Glove.”

“If somebody reported that [he’s being shopped], that’s not true. Are there other clubs that are interested in J.J. Hardy? Who wouldn’t be interested in a shortstop that just won the Gold Glove and captured the Silver Slugger?”

Hardy, in the last year of a three-year, $22 million extension, is a huge part of what the Orioles are trying to do and moving him would create a huge hole in the infield. Even if the Orioles long-term plan is to move Manny Machado to third base —which hasn’t been decided for sure— the 21-year-old is coming off knee surgery and that would create another vacancy at third. The jury is still out as to what Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty can do and the O’s already have one hole in the infield with the departure of second baseman Brian Roberts, who is a free agent.

Hardy’s combination of power and defense –plus his contract status–makes him prime to come up in offseason rumors this winter. But, as evidenced by the Cardinals’ rejection of the trade, it’s probably not enough for an impact pitcher and would create another huge hole in a defense that set a Major League record in 2013 for fewest miscues in a season and most errorless games.

The anchor of the O’s defense, Hardy is one of manager Buck Showalter’s favorites, and signing him for another year or two could be wise given that there’s no help on the horizon in the Minors and Hardy has made it well-known how much he likes playing in Baltimore.

The Orioles best avenue to upgrade this winter is to make a trade and they’ll explore a lot of the same names and available arms that they kicked the tires on around the July deadline, when they acquired Bud Norris. As was the case last year, Duquette to put any of the club’s top pitching prospects on the table including Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez. Dylan Bundy would be a sell-low coming off Tommy John surgery and would be tough to justify as well.

So, who could be had in the right deal? The Orioles would be “willing” to deal catcher Matt Wieters this winter —according to a tweet from FOXSports.com— a school of thinking that shows just how unlikely a long-term extension is for the All-Star backstop.

“If we were going to pursue an extension with him, it would be between now and the start of the season,” Duquette said. “That’s something that we can consider, but having tried twice [each of the last two winters] and not come to a long-term agreement, that’s not a priority for us right now.”

Wieters is a free agent after 2015 and, like first baseman Chris Davis, is represented by Scott Boras. Davis is also a free agent after ’15 and —while the thought right now is he would be more likely to remain in Baltimore than Wieteres— Duquette was equally noncommittal on a possible extension.

“Chris Davis had a great year, obviously,” Duquette said of Davis, who is up for American League MVP honors. “Any of these guys that do well and do well in the community, we’d like to have them with us long-term.”

 

Adam Berry contributed to this post.

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