Jon Paul Morosi reports that the Pittsburgh Pirates have an interest in shortstops J.J. Hardy from Minnesota, and Jason Bartlett from Tampa Bay. Morosi also mentions that the Pirates may have caught a break in the shortstop market, as the San Francisco Giants recently signed Miguel Tejada, and the St. Louis Cardinals traded for Ryan Theriot.
You probably know my take on Bartlett by now. I don’t think he would be an upgrade over Ronny Cedeno, due to his declining defensive skills, and the unlikely chance that he repeats his 2009 career year at the plate. I do think Hardy would be a strong upgrade for the Pirates, all due to his defensive value.
Hardy is at risk of being non-tendered by the Twins before tomorrow’s midnight deadline. If tendered an arbitration offer, he would receive a raise over his $5.1 M salary in 2010, likely getting somewhere in the $5.5-6 M range. If the Pirates worked out a deal tomorrow, it would be unlikely that they would also tender Ronny Cedeno a contract, which means that Hardy would only represent a $3-4 M increase in payroll.
Hardy and Bartlett are both only under control for one more season. Their current teams want to get out from under their contracts in 2011, and the buyers on the shortstop market have disappeared the last few days, which means it might not cost much for the Pirates to land one of the two options. I’d expect something along the lines of the Jesse Chavez for Akinori Iwamura trade last off-season if a deal does take place, and I wouldn’t be surprised if that deal comes tomorrow.