The Orioles have completed yet another one of their main offseason goals: bringing in an offensive upgrade at shortstop. Though Cesar Izturis is practically a the prototype for defensive consistency, his numbers all around at the plate are never too great; he specifically put up the most horrendous offensive numbers (.230/.277/.269). After trading for Mark Reynolds on Monday and making progress on possible contracts for steady bullpen help, this move solidifies the left side of the infield for the 2011 season.
J.J. Hardy is a 28 year old shortstop originally drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers organization in 2001. After five years with the Brewers (’05-’09), Hardy was traded to the Twins for this past season, where he hit .268 with 6 HR and 38 RBI in 340 at-bats. Hardy comes to the Orioles with many health issues, ranging from his season ending ankle issues in 2006 to the sore wrist problems he has this past season. More problems that came up throughout the season that kept him out of games were such things as a swollen left knee and migraine headaches. Filling in now for the defensive machine Cesar Izturis, Hardy brings above-average defense to the table and an obvious offensive upgrade in terms of day to day production.
Hardy is in his last year of arbitration and will be a free agent after the 2011 season. After making $5.1 million in 2010, the Orioles will for sure be giving him a raise on that salary, whether he goes through arbitration hearings or not.
Harris, 30, is a utility infielder who has played every infield position aside from catcher during his 7 seasons in the majors. He hit .157 (.260 career) in 108 at-bats with the Twins in 2010. He’s set to make $1.75 million in 2011.
Jacobson, a RHP drafted in 2008 by the Detroit Tigers, landed in the Orioles organization at the end of the 2009 season when the Orioles traded Aubrey Huff to the Tigers in a one-for-one deal. Never pitching above high A ball, Jacobson has a minor league record of 12-8 with a 3.09 ERA in 97 relief appearances (166 IP) over 3 years. With 8.5 SO/9 and 3 BB/9 in 2010, Jacobson pitched to an efficient 2.79 ERA for the Frederick Keys. Entering the 2011 season at the age of 24, Jacobson should find himself pitching out of the Twins’ bullpen sometime in the next few years, possibly as a set up man.
The Orioles will also receive $500,000 in cash considerations from the Twins organization.
A note on Cesar Izturis: The organization still has interest in retaining Izturis as a utility infielder, specifically as a backup shortstop. With Hardy’s past injury concerns and Brian Roberts‘ obvious 2010 issues, Izturis could still provide a top notch defensive backup for the club.
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