Why did the O’s sign J.J. Hardy now? Because the shortstop market is a hot mess

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It’s unusual to see a player get a contract extension during the playoffs. Especially a player whose team is still in the playoffs. But the Orioles handed one out to J.J. Hardy yesterday. And when you look around at the free agent market for shortstops, you can see why they did it.

Hardly anything worth signing is going to be available. Yes, there are a couple of big names like Hanley Ramirez and Asdrubal Cabrera, but both of those guys have probably peaked and any suitor is going to paying for a decline. Not to mention the fact that one team — the Nationals — has already decided that Cabrera is best used at second base and any other team would be wise to move Ramirez off of shortstop too.

Who else does that leave? Stephen Drew? Yeah, that worked really well this year. Jed Lowrie? He’s 30 and often injured. Combine that with many, many teams looking for a shortstop — the Yankees and Mets chief among them — and you can see that Hardy would’ve been the subject of a bidding war.