Orioles, Hardy agree on three-year deal

BY foxsports • July 16, 2011

J.J. Hardy had absolutely no desire to leave Baltimore. The Orioles were intent upon keeping the talented shortstop, who has contributed heavily at the plate, in the field and in the clubhouse.

That made it easy for both sides to come to an agreement on a new contract that guarantees him $22.25 million over three additional seasons through 2014.

''He's done a terrific job for us in every facet of the game,'' Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail said. ''Really, everything that you could possibly ask for, he has more than delivered. So we're delighted to call him a Baltimore Oriole for three more seasons.''

Hardy is making $5.85 million this season under a one-year deal agreed to in January. He gets a $1.25 million signing bonus and annual salaries of $7 million over the next three seasons. His salary could escalate, going up $500,000 in both 2013 and 2014 if he's an All-Star, wins a Silver Slugger or finishes among the top 10 in MVP voting in 2012, and by $1 million in 2014 if achieves any of those in the two prior seasons.

He gets a complete no-trade clause for the remainder of this year and the right to block trade to eight feams from 2012-14. He would receive a $250,000 bonus if traded.

That's just fine with Hardy, who had no desire to go elsewhere after previously playing for Milwaukee and Minnesota. He came to Baltimore in a Dec. 9 trade with the Twins.

''From Day One, walking into spring training, I've really felt comfortable in this clubhouse,'' Hardy said. ''I've really enjoyed my time here. To come in here and see the way this is, and like it, it definitely helped me make the decision to stay.''

Hardy was batting .278 through the weekend and led all major league shortstops with a .994 fielding percentage.

''Your stomach tells you a lot about this game, and when the ball is hit to shortstop, you have a pretty good feel,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. ''That's not all that usual at shortstop. It's a tough position. But there's a good warm feeling when that ball gets hit in that general direction anytime in the game. And offensively, he's rebounded to where he's been in the past in his career.''

Baltimore is skidding toward its 14th consecutive losing season, which had no small influence on MacPhail's desire to get a deal in place.

''We're going through a tough spell right now. To be honest with you, in the course of this negotiation, my concern was we were scuffling so much he might have second thoughts,'' MacPhail said. ''This is an important piece for us. We have a good solid shortstop who is 28 years old that we can count on for the next few years.''

Although Baltimore is in last place in the AL East, Hardy wanted to stay put.

''Really, it's two things. The fact that I've had so much fun here, enjoyed my time, and like the people I'm around,'' Hardy said. ''The other thing is that I really believe that Buck and Andy and (owner) Peter (Angelos) and everyone that has the power to make this organization better, they're doing everything they possibly can to do that. I really feel that the next three years, we can definitely make some improvements.''