J.J. Hardy and the Orioles agree to contract extension

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J.J. Hardy cut off contract extension talks with the Orioles when the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement by the end of spring training, but now Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that Baltimore is close to signing the impending free agent shortstop to a new deal.

According to Rosenthal it’s a three-year deal worth at least $40 million and includes a fourth-year option.

Announcing a contract extension one day before the ALCS is odd timing, especially after Hardy and the Orioles avoided talks throughout the regular season, but with free agency right around the corner and plenty of teams in need of a good all-around shortstop–chief among them the Yankees–Baltimore obviously didn’t want to see him hit the open market.

Hardy was acquired from the Twins in a lopsided 2011 trade and then signed a three-year, $22.5 million extension to stay with the Orioles. In four total seasons in Baltimore he’s hit .259 with a .720 OPS while consistently rating among the best defensive shortstops in baseball.

Fan Graphs says he’s been worth an average of $17 million per season for the past four years, so the Orioles got a huge bargain on Hardy from 2011-2014 and maintaining that level of performance would make the new contract a relative bargain as well. However, this new deal will begin with his age-32 season and that’s always a big risk for shortstops.

Grudge continues to fester between Braves, Marlins

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The Braves and Marlins have some bad blood, especially concerning Ronald Acuña Jr. Around this time last year, José Ureña intentionally threw at Acuña in the first at-bat of a game, leading to a benches-clearing incident. Acuña was hit on the elbow and exited the game but was ultimately fine. Acuña’s crime? Just being good at baseball. At the time, he had homered in five consecutive games, including three games against the Marlins.

In 2019, the first-place Braves and last-place Marlins have mostly minded their own business. The Marlins, however, can certainly keep a grudge it appears. With his first pitch in the bottom of the first inning Tuesday night in Atlanta, Marlins starter Elieser Hernández hit Acuña in the hip.

Home plate umpire Alan Porter issued warnings to both dugouts. Braves manager Brian Snitker wasn’t happy about his side having received a warning for no reason, and was ejected by first base umpire Mark Wegner. Hernández would hit Adeiny Hechavarría with a pitch in the fourth inning — seemingly unintentionally — and was not ejected. Other than that, there were no more incidents and cooler heads prevailed.

Acuña finished 1-for-4 in the Braves’ 5-1 win. Freddie Freeman hit two home runs and knocked in four runs.