Last week J.J. Hardy told reporters that the lack of progress in contract negotiations with the Orioles “just makes me curious” and now the impending free agent shortstop has decided to stop talking about the situation publicly.
Hardy informed reporters that he will no longer discuss his contract negotiations, which is a big change because Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com describes him as having “respectfully fielded questions from reporters since spring training.”
According to Hardy he wants to keep from being a distraction and avoid a potential misunderstanding, which suggests the Orioles probably weren’t thrilled with last week’s comments. And the lack of progress on a long-term extension also suggests the Orioles are probably hesitant to lock Hardy up into his mid-30s. He’s in the final season of a three-year, $22.25 million deal at age 31.
The Mets signed catcher Jose Lobaton to a minor league contract, the team announced Friday. The deal includes an invitation to spring training, where it’s assumed Lobaton will be in the mix for a backup role behind Travis d'Arnaud and Kevin Plawecki.
Lobaton, 33, is coming off of a four-year stint with the Nationals. He put up his worst career numbers in 2017, producing -0.6 fWAR after slashing just .170/.248/.277 with four home runs in 158 plate appearances. While he’ll give the Mets little to work with at the plate, his near-decade of experience behind the dish should make him a decent emergency option, if nothing else.
In the meantime, the Mets are expected to roll with a d’Arnaud/Plawecki platoon to start the season. Both catchers saw slight upticks in value over the 2017 season: d’Arnaud turned in 0.8 fWAR after hitting a career-high 16 home runs, while Plawecki collected 0.6 fWAR and three homers after raising his batting line over the Mendoza Line for the first time since 2015.