J.J. Hardy: “Wide Open” If Yankees Came Calling
By Billy Brost
It’s never too early to begin speculation about who will be manning shortstop for the New York Yankees next season. For some unusual reason, this coming winter’s free agent market is loaded with viable candidates, along with a handful of trade options for the Yankees to examine. Right now, Derek Jeter is still the Yankees’ shortstop, at least for the next five days, or until he decides he is done playing, which could come with New York’s series finale in the Bronx against the Baltimore Orioles.
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Speaking of the Orioles, one of the possible options that could be replacing the Yankee Captain was more than willing to discuss the opportunity to come to New York, if and when the Bombers come calling. J.J. Hardy, the 32-year-old Blackbird infielder is suffering through a season-long power outage that has seen him hit only 9 long balls, after averaging 25 in each of the prior three seasons. Hardy recently told Dan Martin of the NY Post, that his preference would be to remain in Baltimore with the Orioles, but if things don’t work out, he’d be “wide open” to listening to what the Yankees have to offer.
"“This is my fourth year here and I feel like this organization, we’re going in the right direction…It’s a good group of guys here. It’s something if they came to me, I would listen, also.” (h/t, Dan Martin-NY Post)"
While Hardy is entering free agency on a downward trend statistically, nobody knows for sure which direction or how much money the Yankees are going to want to spend on Jeter’s replacement. They could empty the farm system and bring in Colorado Rockies’ shortstop Troy Tulowitzki if budget and prospects are of no concern. If we’re talking strictly money, Hanley Ramirez might fit the bill. If the Bombers are trying to be budget-conscience, they could bring back Stephen Drew, who has been a dumpster fire since arriving on July 31st from Boston for Kelly Johnson. A previously unmentioned candidate to replace Jeter might even be troubled San Diego Padres’ shortstop, speedster Everth Cabrera, who has dealt with leg injuries all season, and was recently arrested for driving while under the influence of marijuana (credit co-editor Jason Evans).
If J.J. Hardy has a desire to see what he’s worth on the open market, which most pending free agents wish to do, he can rest assured that the New York Yankees at the very minimum, will be kicking the tires to see if he fits their budget and can bring Gold Glove-caliber defense back to the Bronx in 2015 and beyond.