J.J. Hardy: Orioles’ lack of action on contract extension “just makes me curious”

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The Orioles and J.J. Hardy were expected to at least broach the subject of a contract extension during spring training, but nothing has happened yet with May fast approaching. Hardy, 31, can become a free agent after the season once the final year of his three-year, $22.25 million contract expires.

That the Orioles haven’t been in contact with Hardy’s agent makes the shortstop scratch his head. Via Rich Dubroff of CSN Baltimore:

“I don’t know. I don’t know what to say because no matter what I say it’s going to cause some controversy, a story that I really don’t want to get involved with right now,” Hardy said. “There’s been no talk. There was going to be talk, and then there wasn’t. That’s kind of the way it’s been left.”

[…]

“It just makes me curious. I don’t understand what happened within the month or two that there was going to be talk, and all of a sudden there’s not. It just makes me curious,” Hardy said.

Hardy’s offensive numbers in 2012 and ’13 didn’t quite live up to the numbers he posted in his first year with the Orioles in 2011. And he’s off to a slow start in 2014, posting a .238/.250/.286 line over 44 plate appearances.

Hardy, by the way, left Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox with a strained right hamstring. He has also been dealing with back spasms, an injury that bothered him last season as well. While Hardy has mostly been healthy since joining the Orioles, one can understand the Orioles’ reticence in signing a long-term pact to a player dealing with various injury problems as he approaches his mid-30’s.

Phillies, Red Sox interested in Carlos Santana

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The Phillies and Red Sox appear intent on pursuing free agent first baseman Carlos Santana, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports. Santana rejected a one-year, $17.4 million qualifying offer from the Indians on Thursday and is expected to draw widespread interest on the market this winter. The Mets, Mariners, Angels and Indians could make a play for the infielder, though no serious offers have been made this early in the offseason.

Santana, 31, is coming off of a seven-year track with the Indians. He batted .259/.363/.455 with 23 home runs and 3.0 fWAR last season, making 2017 the fourth-most valuable year of his career to date. Although he was primarily stationed at first base over the last year, he could step back into a hybrid first base/DH role with the Red Sox, who are hurting for infield depth with Hanley Ramirez still working his way back from shoulder surgery.

As for Santana’s other suitors, the Mariners are far less likely to pursue a deal after trading for Ryon Healy last Wednesday. Neither the Mets nor the Phillies have a DH spot to offer the veteran infielder, and the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins appears to be blocking the way at first base. Then again, Santana may not find a more enticing offer outside of Cleveland, where Edwin Encarnacion might otherwise be the club’s best option at first base. During the GM meetings, Indians’ GM Mike Chernoff said he “love to have both [Santana and Jay Bruce] back” in 2018, but hasn’t backed up that love with any contract talks just yet.