Orioles hoping to sign J.J. Hardy to contract extension before the All-Star break

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J.J. Hardy wore out his welcome in Minnesota after one season, in part because Ron Gardenhire wanted more speed in the lineup, in part because Hardy missed one-third of the season with injuries, and in part because the Twins didn’t seem to grasp that excellent defense and a decent bat made him one of the league’s best all-around shortstops.

Apparently the Orioles like Hardy a lot more, as team president Andy MacPhail told Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun that they’re interested in signing him to a multi-year contract extension before the 28-year-old becomes a free agent at the end of the season:

There’s no reason why he wouldn’t be an asset here for years to come. I definitely think we’ll have conversations. There’s no question about it. The closer you get for free agency, the more difficult it is for players to want that extension. I think it’s something that we definitely targeted before the All-Star break to talk about.

For his part, Hardy told Zrebiec that he likes playing for the Orioles, but added: “Some of it has to do with what my agent thinks.”

Hardy hasn’t been injury free this year either, missing nearly a month with an oblique strain, but has yet to commit an error in 36 games while hitting .287 with six homers and an .836 OPS that ranks fifth among MLB shortstops behind only Jose Reyes, Jhonny Peralta, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Troy Tulowitzki.

Giants sign Austin Jackson to two-year, $6 million contract

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The Giants announced on Monday night the signing of outfielder Austin Jackson. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, it’s a two-year, $6 million deal with performance incentives that allow Jackson to earn up to an additional $2.5 million for a total of $8.5 million.

Jackson, who soon turns 31 years old, spent last season with the Indians. In 318 plate appearances, he hit .318/.387/.482 with seven home runs, 35 RBI, and 46 runs scored.

The Giants have been on the hunt for a center fielder and Jackson addresses that need relatively cheaply. Jackson will join Hunter Pence and newcomer Andrew McCutchen in the outfield.