The Minnesota Twins tendered shortstop J.J. Hardy a contract, which wasn’t totally unexpected. There was talk earlier in the week that the Twins would take this action, and it doesn’t necessarily mean that Hardy will be in Minnesota for the 2011 season. There was a lot of interest in Hardy, and by tendering him, Minnesota has more time to work out a trade.
Rob Biertempfel brought up a good point on Twitter that it’s easier to trade a player if he’s under contract. If the Twins work out a deal with Hardy, other teams would know how much salary they were taking on, which would make it easier to settle on a trade value for Hardy.
The Pirates are close to a deal with Ronny Cedeno, although that doesn’t necessarily mean that they won’t still be pursuing Hardy. The Pirates could try to trade Cedeno if they trade for Hardy or Jason Bartlett of the Rays, or they could use Cedeno as a backup. Cedeno is expected to make around $2 M in 2011, which is similar to what Ramon Vazquez made in 2008 when the Pirates were paying Jack Wilson $6.6 M. Neither Hardy nor Bartlett would make that amount next year.
There are no guarantees that the Pirates will pursue an external shortstop, although you would think the option would still be on the table, based on how much talk there was over the last week about the team looking to upgrade over Cedeno. Hardy and Bartlett will still be available, which really doesn’t change the situation much from earlier in the week.