J.J. Hardy likes playing for the Orioles, but “whatever happens, happens” in free agency

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J.J. Hardy cut off contract extension talks with the Orioles when the two sides were unable to come to an agreement in April, so now the impending free agent shortstop is on the verge of hitting the open market.

Hardy told Eduardo Encina of the Baltimore Sun that he’d like to re-sign with the Orioles, but noted that “everything changes” once free agency enters the picture. “If I make it to free agency, it’s whatever happens, happens.”

Hardy is finishing up a three-year, $22.5 million contract, during which he’s hit .257 with 56 homers and a .700 OPS while playing 454 of a possible 480 games following lots of previous questions about his durability.

He’s also remained an excellent defensive shortstop into his 30s and Fan Graphs pegs his offensive and defensive contributions as being worth $48 million during the three-year contract based on Wins Above Replacement. In other words, Hardy has given the Orioles a lot more value than they paid for.

Now the question is will teams–including the division rival Yankees, who need a Derek Jeter replacement–be willing to make a big multi-year commitment to a 32-year-old shortstop.