J.J. Hardy would have preferred to re-sign with Orioles sooner

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The Orioles announced a three-year, $40 million extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy back in October, but if Hardy had his way, he would’ve inked his name a lot sooner. Via MASN’s Steve Melewski:

“It kind of went a lot longer than I wanted it to,” Hardy said. “I didn’t think it needed to go that long, but it did. But I told my agent, ‘Listen, this is what I want and I like it in Baltimore. Let’s get to what is fair and make this happen.’ Now that it is done, I’m glad everything worked out as it did.”

It was important for the Orioles to extend Hardy before he hit the open market, as several rich teams including the Yankees and Dodgers made changes at shortstop and that would have driven Hardy’s price up. Despite only hitting nine home runs last season, the 86 he has slugged since the start of the 2011 season leads all shortstops, ahead of Troy Tulowitzki’s 84. The Orioles also saw Nelson Cruz sign with the Mariners, so losing Hardy would have been a crippling blow to their power hitting.

Oakland Athletics reverse course: will continue to pay minor leaguers

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Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland Athletics owner John Fisher has reversed course and will continue to pay minor leaguers. Fisher tells Slusser, “I concluded I made a mistake.” He said he is also setting up an assistance fund for furloughed employees.

The A’s decided in late May to stop paying paying minor leaguers as of June 1, which was the earliest date on which any club could do so after an MLB-wide agreement to pay minor leaguers through May 31 expired. In the event, the A’s were the only team to stop paying the $400/week stipends to players before the end of June. Some teams, notable the Royals and Twins, promised to keep the payments up through August 31, which is when the minor league season would’ve ended. The Washington Nationals decided to lop off $100 of the stipends last week but, after a day’s worth of blowback from the media and fans, reversed course themselves.