Twins trade Hardy, Harris to Orioles
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins traded shortstop J.J. Hardy, infielder Brendan Harris and $500,000 to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday for right-handed pitchers Brett Jacobson, who has yet to pitch above Class A, and Jim Hoey, who ...
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Minnesota Twins traded shortstop J.J. Hardy, infielder Brendan Harris and $500,000 to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday for right-handed pitchers Brett Jacobson, who has yet to pitch above Class A, and Jim Hoey, who has not pitched in the big leagues since 2007.
The move indicates the Twins are extremely confident in their ability to sign Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka before the negotiation window expires at 11 p.m. on Dec. 26. Nishioka, 26, is expected to sign a contract of two or three years worth $3 million to $5 million annually and would travel to Minnesota for a physical after signing.
Hardy made $5.1 million in 2009 and played great defense, but was hampered by a wrist injury for long stretches and played in just 101 games. Hardy doesn't run well and general manager Bill Smith said the driving force in trading the shortstop was the desire for a faster lineup.
Nishioka and Alexi Casilla, now the Twins' likely 2011 pairing at second and shortstop, respectively, are upgrades in speed over Hardy, but it remains to be seen whether Casilla can match Hardy's defensive stability or even his offensive output of last season.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire missed his scheduled appearance at the winter meetings because of a family emergency, but did speak with reporters via conference call. He said he knows little about Nishioka and isn't sure whether the two-time Gold Glove winner in Japan would be best suited as Orlando Hudson's replacement at second base or Hardy's replacement at shortstop.
"(Casilla) moves really well at shortstop. I think he's very acrobatic, he's very athletic and he can really come and get the ball," Gardenhire said. "He can throw from all kinds of angles, and I think he's more comfortable coming and getting the ball rather than waiting on it. I like him at shortstop probably better just because he's more athletic, he can come and get the ball, and he has a cannon."
The Twins have never had a Japanese player on the major league roster, so Gardenhire has never had to deal with a player who speaks a language no one else on the team understands. Gardenhire admitted that would be an adjustment, but joked that learning some Japanese would be a good way to pass his time this winter.
Hardy is likely to make about $6 million in his final year before becoming a free agent, and so moving him, along with the $1.25 million left on Harris' contract ($1.75 million in salary minus the $500,000 the Twins sent to Baltimore), for two relievers was a way to shed cost while adding pitching.
Both Jacobson and Hoey throw in the mid-to-high 90s and rely on their hard fastballs for success. Jacobson, 24, is a 6-foot-6 right-hander and is likely to start the season at Class AA, but Hoey, who will turn 28 this month, will be a candidate for the big league bullpen in 2011.
-- The Twins selected left-handed pitcher Scott Diamond, 24, from the Atlanta Braves organization in the major league phase of the Rule 5 draft. He has to remain on the Twins' 25-man roster all season, or they will have to offer him back to Atlanta for $25,000 -- half of what they are paying to acquire him.
The Twins also lost three players from the Class AA roster in the minor league portion of the draft. Other teams selected right-handers Michael Allen and Eliecer Cardenas and left-hander Jean Mijares.