I think it was Einstein who said that a hot stove abhors a vacuum. Though I didn’t know that there were such rivalries among household appliances, that should be food for thought as the rumor mill begins to churn this offseason.
There have been reports and counter-reports about the availability of Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy and catcher Matt Wieters this winter, and it’s impossible to shoot them down because, frankly, anybody is available at the right price. Blockbuster offseason deals have become less common in baseball’s megabucks era, but they do happen once in awhile, so nothing is ever entirely out of the question.
But does anybody really think that Dan Duquette and Buck Showalter would trade away half of baseball's best middle infield right after the Orioles set all-time records for fewest errors, most errorless games and highest team fielding percentage?
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Next winter, with Wieters one year away from free agency, we can talk. That’s when the Orioles will have a big decision to make, because he will likely be coming off an even better season than this year, and the potential price to get him signed to a long-term contract may be prohibitive. But there’s no reason to rush into a deal now unless the payoff is almost beyond belief.
Hardy is entering the final year of his current contract, but he’s too critical to what the Orioles do best to consider dealing him while Manny Machado’s timetable to return from knee surgery remains uncertain.
The Orioles ought to consider an extension for Hardy and end any talk of moving Machado to shortstop. The kid was named the best defensive player in the league this year, so why even contemplate a position change when your current shortstop is a perfect fit for the next three years?
Machado may want to return to shortstop at some point, but it doesn’t make sense in today’s baseball environment. Little more than one year into his major league career, he is recognized as one of the top two or three all-around third basemen in the sport. There are a lot more great shortstops out there than great third basemen, so the Orioles should leave well enough alone.