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November 18, 2010

Orioles' search for shortstop turns to Rays' Bartlett, Twins' Hardy

The Orioles haven't ruled out bringing back Cesar Izturis, but they are currently looking at other shortstop options, according to club sources.

They've had trade discussions with the Tampa Bay Rays about Jason Bartlett, and the Minnesota Twins about J.J. Hardy.

The talks with the Rays included discussion of a potential swap of Orioles reliever David Hernandez for Bartlett, who hit .254 with four homers and 47 RBIs in 2010, but is a career .281 hitter. However, that deal appears unlikely at this point as the Orioles consider other options.

Orioles president of baseball operations Andy MacPhail, who remains in Orlando, Fla. to attend the owner’s meetings after the general manager meetings ended yesterday, wouldn’t comment on specific players, but acknowledged that he met with several teams this week to discuss potential trades, along with the representatives of several free agents.

“We’ve had some productive discussions,” MacPhail said.

The Hernandez-for-Bartlett deal does make sense for both sides as the Rays are aggressively seeking affordable relievers as they could lose five members of their 2010 bullpen in free agency, including All-Star closer Rafael Soriano. Top setup man Joaquin Benoit has already signed with the Detroit Tigers.

While the Orioles love the defense and intangibles that Izturis brings, they are searching for a better two-way option at the position. Bartlett, who is expected to be replaced at shortstop by a younger and cheaper Reid Brignac, is just one year removed from a season in which he hit .320 with 14 homers and 66 RBIs and stole 30 bases.

However, Bartlett is eligible for free agency after the 2011 season, and he struggled offensively in 2010.

Meanwhile, there are some within the organization that feel Hernandez, 25, is too valuable to give up for a potential one-year rental, and could be the team's closer of the future.

Hernandez, one of the most asked about Orioles in trade discussions, went 8-8 with a 4.31 ERA in 41 appearances while serving in a variety of roles this past season. He started the season in the rotation, making eight starts, before ultimately settling in the bullpen and even serving as the team’s closer at one point, saving three games.

Like Bartlett, Hardy, 28, will be a free agent following the 2011 season. He batted .268 with six homers and 38 RBIs in 101 games for the Twins last season and is a career .263 hitters. His best season came in 2007 for the Milwaukee Brewers as he batted .277 with 26 homers and 80 RBIs. However, his numbers have dropped each season since and he’s struggled to stay off the disabled list the past two years.

It isn't presently known what the Twins are looking for from the Orioles in return for Hardy.

Posted by Jeff Zrebiec at 2:08 PM | | Comments (31)
        

Comments

Hey Jeff,

Interesting Article. I have to be honest though. I would keep David Hernandez.
I think he's going to be a very good middle relief pitcher. In fact he already is.

Bartlett is on the downside on his career.
And Hardy to me sounds like another Garrett Atkins...Yeah a change of scenery could do him some good, I don't think so.

Maybe the Orioles could get Kranitz to be a liason to orchestrate a deal between us and the Brew Crew. Since Kranitz left on such good terms with us. LOL

Jeff,

Anyone can easily look these stats up, but I think it'd be really helpful if you and Dan were to include a triple slash line for hitters (AVG/OBP/SLG.) That's much more indicative of a player's offensive prowess than AVG-homers-RBI's. Also Fangraphs' WAR numbers would be awesome...

But anyway, you and Dan do tremendous work on the Orioles' beat and I appreciate your reporting.

Thanks,

Luke

Dan -- Any chance the Orioles might sign a Bartlett, say, and still resign Izturis as a backup? Cesar's played second and third as well as short, so he could have some value as a utility player.

I'm guessing you're going to tell me that before doing that, the O's would opt for Robert Andino as a cheaper alternative.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I would think that's unlikely but not impossible, Ken. Izturis still sees himself as a starting SS and I doubt he would accept a backup role on a team where he was starting SS last 2 years. But I guess crazier things have happened.

Bartlett would be a good acquisition - I love his speed - and Hernandez is a fair price, but Bartlett comes with the usual baggage - he's a rental.

If he can be signed long term at a reasonable cost (say in the $5M range), I'd make the deal. Otherwise, forget it. The Orioles, as we all know far too well, do pretty much nothing right. But one thing they do do right is not falling for the one-and-done offers. Let's keep it that way.

I think given Hernandez's value, Bartlett for him may be a little low, especially considering that Bartlett is a candidate to be non-tendered.

However, Bartlett and Matt Garza for Hernandez, Luke Scott & Kam Mickolio or another relief prospect might not be out of the question. Tampa will be looking to replace some left-handed power and Scott could replace Pena for them. Both Scott and Garza have two arbitration years left before free agency.

Jeff,

Any chance, in your opinion, that the Orioles might be able to negotiate an extension with either player pre-trade?

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Jeff Z's reply: Yes, I think there would be a chance of that, but I haven't talked to either Bartlett or Hardy's agent so I can't say that with any certainty.

First off I fully understand that you have to give to get in a trade. BUT I am not in favor of trading Hernandez for the people mentioned. If they said a guy like Stephen Drew (who they should have drafted in the first place) A move like that I would be more in favor of.

I would not trade Hernandez for both of those journeymen shortstops, I'd rather sign Izturis and go after a third or firstbaseman thru trade.

My intuition is that if the Orioles offered Chris Tillman for Bartlett, the Rays would jump at it.

Jeff,
Any chance that the O's could or would ship ?Bri-Rob to the Twins for Hardy and Casillas

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: No, I don't see that happening.

Why don't the Orioles give Robert Andino a chance. Until their #1 draft choice from this year gets ready.

I would trade Hernandez for him only if he agrees to a 2 year extention. If unable to trade him the Rays need to throw in a player to be named or cash considerations.

I'll give up Hernandez for Brignac, but not Bartlett. My counter proposal would be VandenHurk for Bartlett.

I'm not sure I'd give up a ton for either player. And I'm not sure the slightly better offensive numbers put up by Bartlett and Hardy are worth losing Izzy's defense. It's not like they are looking at Troy Tulowitski. It's also not like Izzy is 35 years old. He will turn 31 in February and has emerged as a team leader for the Orioles.

There's an article on another post about the Orioles looking into Derek Jeter, I would certainly like to see that and there's always the rumors of Jose Reyes from the Mets.

Jeff, anything to either of those possibilities?

Thanks for your great work.

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: I think the article was suggesting that the O's should go after Derek jeter, not that they are going after him. But no, I don't see Jeter leaving the Yankees under any circumstance. As for Reyes, certainly the Orioles have interest, but again, we're talking about another guy who is one season away from free agency. You cannot trade the type of talent the Mets would be looking for in return without getting a window to sign Reyes to an extension, and that just doesn't happen very often.

I'd love a David Hernandez for Jason Bartlett trade. Bartlett has a plus glove, hits for a solid average and can bat in the #1 or #2 hole. I know that David Hernandez was solid at times last year, but he still haven't proven himself as a known commodity. Plus, Bartlett will be a perfect transition to Manny Machado three years or so down the road. Pull the trigger, Andy!!!

a trade of david hernandez for jj hardy or jason bartlett, yea go for it. you have to give to get. i wouldn't miss david hernandez.

Part of Buck's past M.O. has been to identify young guys with M.L. talent and to promote them quickly. I can't see giving up Hernandez for a SS when Machado is clearly the most talented position player in the system.

I'd be comfortable going into next year with Andino and Izturis. If Andino can play consistant defense and swing the bat with a little pop, he may beat Izturis out, or begin to share the position.

Buck seems to also see talent where others don't. I took that he was impressed by Andino, look for him to give him a shot to play next year.

Either way, Machado should be here by fall of 2012, if not sooner. I know he's younger then Matusz was, but I wouldn't be surprised to see that kid rocket up through the system. I wouldn't be surprised to get a look at him next Sept.

Hernandez is too valuable to give up for a journeyman SS that could get pushed aside by Machado in 2 years. If the O's have to give him up in a package for a 4 hole hitter it could make sense.

But Hernandez could be a closer type of a guy, I'd keep him around for a year to see if he grows into top reliever. His fastball really gained some pop once he was working out of the pen, I'd think the o's would want to see what he could do if he trained a full offseason for the role.

Top relievers are just as hard to find as 4 hole hitters, so I wouldn't giveup on him too soon.

Good day!

I would not trade for either of those...Hernandez is worth more to us.

I wanted to throw out a possibility:

Arizona seems to be open to any offers--
What about a Drew/Upton/Reynolds trade?
Guthrie, Jones, Johnson, Britton, Machado for Drew/Upton/Reynolds? An upgrade in the OF, SS, 3B. I know--Machado/Britton = Great potential. GREAT POTENTIAL doesn't get'er done! I would be surprised if either fully reaches the glory of their pre-destined baseball careers, whereas Drew, Upton, reynolds would cover our hitting needs, I believe--a tweak here and there, maybe--as well as another SP and reliever or two and we are competitive...

Your thoughts?

...............................................................................................
Jeff Z's reply: Don't quite know what to say about that one other than it would be the biggest blockbuster in the history of MLB.

If the O's could work out an extension with Jason Bartlett, I say do it!

I like Hernandez, but you have to give something to get something and all the Rays players have said how important Jason Bartlett has been to the success of the Rays since they got him.

I am not diminishing the value of Hernandez, but maybe it forces the O's to resign Koji which is something they should do anyway. I just think Bartlett is the type of SS that O's fans would love because he plays the game the right way.

I see Andino as the super sub. He can play SS, 2B and 3B.

Jeff, I also see this trade as a way of giving Tillman a chance to face major league hitters since I am not sure he's ready to start, but he's too tough on AAA hitters. He could ease his way through the bigs in the pen.

Current mlb rules state that you cannot trade a player you have drafted until he has been in your system for at least a year.

So no Machado in any trades.

Now had we drafted Tyler Matzek in 2009... he would be a very mighty trade chip...

From MLB Rules - "In general, between the end of the World Series and the trade deadline at 4 p.m. EST on July 31, any players may be traded for one another provided they don't have a no-trade clause (contractually or as a result of being a 10-5 player) and were not drafted in the past year."

again we will waste time with a couple of free agents that mean nothing , mcphail will sit on his hands untill all of the top qualuty players are gone and pick up some scrub hoping they can get to there former self .i for won have not renewed my season tickets after 16 years , i will go to a game in mid april when by then you can pick up any ticket you want ,one time i like to read price coming to baltuimore or lee or any big name in there prime , aint happening

Trading Hernandez for Barlett or Hardy would be absolutely IDIOTIC.

Do the math: If Izturis gets 20 more hits the entire year he hits for a higher avg than either of them (.273).

So for less than 1 additional hit per week you suffer defense, kiss away a hell of a reliever and buy into a new shortstop who is going free agent in 1 year.

Only an IDIOT would pursue this trade.

Ugh... When we will finally hear the last of Robert Andino?

Evening--

I was reading how Jeter turned down 3/$63M from Yanks--apparently, hw wants 4-6 yr deal. I do not feel the Yankees, yes even the Yankees will go that high--4/84 or 5/105.
My question is:
If you are the O's, do you atleast offer Jeter 4/75M? He would bring all the intangibles--the Yankees would have LOST something and it may be just the chip that starts that ball rolling toward respectability--from a fans', media, league, other players.

Now, I know it is not my money and the 40 or so million that is being overspent here is mucho donero, however, change comes at a cost...

Thanks

ISAAOG

--
He is more valuable to the Yankees than he is to anyone else. He is going nowhere

Dennis is right.

Trade Hernandez for a declining player is a single year rental is a total waste of a high quality pitcher (starter to closer).

This is just stupid.

Neither of these guys can hold a candle to Izturis in the field while their batting is only marginally better.

And what better shortstop is there than Izturis to fill the next two years in and mentor Machado ?

The Orioles need to THINK.

I wouldn't trade Hernandez for Hardy, but I don't think Bartlett is ready to be put out to pasture plus I wouldn't do a trade unless there is an extension.

I don't think Jeter is going to leave NY, but the impact he would have on the O's would be huge from marketing to viewers on MASN to merchandise to ticket sales to actually getting guys to come to Baltimore to play. He had an off year, but to dismiss the importance of what he would mean to a franchise that has been a joke since 97 is joke in itself. He makes the Orioles relevant!

The Tigers gambled on two guys that were thought to be on the decline because of age or injuries in Pudge and Magglio, but look at how that set the stage for FAs to want to go to Detroit!

I'm stunned by the volume of comments from people who don't realize that Cesar Izturis was *the* worst hitter in major league baseball last year.

It isn't just that Izturis hit .230; it's that he did so without walking and without hitting for power. He had a .545 OPS! That's not just awful, that's blindfolded-Manny-Alexander awful.

Don't underestimate the value of a steady shortshop on helping your young pitchers progress. Barlett had a profound impact on helping Tampa get over the hump and was their 2008 team MVP. And it was for his presence as much as his production. Not saying Bartlett for Hernandez is equal value straight up, just saying it's not as out of whack as some here think.

--

Very much agreed. I think it is fair, just not sure I would do it given Hernandez's upside and Bartlett's contract situation.

There is nothing more damning about the Oriole organization and development teams that after 13 years of uninterrupted losing and high draft picks they have not managed to find one player good enough to replace the ridiculous Cesar Izturis.

I'd make the trade with a prefernce for Hardy IF the Os were certain they had a 3-4 year extension before the start of the year. If not certain, then do not make the trade.

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About the bloggers
A Baltimore native, Dan Connolly has been covering sports for 14 years, and baseball and the Orioles for 10 seasons, including the past six with The Sun. His first year covering baseball on a daily basis was Cal Ripken Jr.'s final season as a player. It's believed that is just a coincidence.

Steve Gould is an assistant sports editor for The Sun, overseeing Orioles coverage. The Columbia native joined The Sun as a sports copy editor in 2006 after graduating from the University of Maryland.

Peter Schmuck has been covering baseball for a lot longer than Steve Gould has been on this earth. He is now a general sports columnist, but has been a beat writer covering three major league teams (the Dodgers, Angels and Orioles) and also spent a decade as the Sun's national baseball writer. If you want more of his insight on the Orioles and other sports issues, check out his personal blog -- The Schmuck Stops Here.


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