Hardy missed two-plus weeks with a strained groin and for the past week the Orioles have used Machado as his replacement several times, shifting the All-Star third baseman to shortstop for the first time in his MLB career.
Machado was once an elite shortstop prospect and only changed positions in the first place due to Hardy’s presence, so at age 24 there’s little doubt that he could handle the position now and perhaps even increase his already huge all-around value. However, with Hardy healthy now and signed through 2017 at big salaries Machado will shift back to third base full time down the stretch.
Hardy being traded during the offseason is possible, although he’s 32 years old and has a meager .638 OPS in 234 games dating back to the start of 2014. Owed more than $28 million in 2016/2017, he could be difficult to move even if Baltimore is convinced Machado at shortstop makes for a better team.