San Diego Padres: A Free Agent Worth Bringing In

nstevens1
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 20: J.J. Hardy
BALTIMORE, MD - AUGUST 20: J.J. Hardy /
facebooktwitterreddit

Various outlets are reporting that the San Diego Padres are still looking for a back-up to newly acquired shortstop, Freddy Galvis. While there aren’t a lot of flashy options available, there is one that could bring a lot to an organization; J.J. Hardy.

Back in December, the San Diego Padres addressed their need for a shortstop by trading for former Phillie, Freddy Galvis. Galvis is under control for just one season and is assumed to be a stop-gap while the team waits for Fernando Tatis, Jr to prove he is ready for the big leagues. Galvis is still a major upgrade, both offensively and defensively for the Friars. He has finished second in Gold Glove voting during the last two seasons and set career highs last year in doubles (29), hits 155), and triples (6). 

Six different players appeared at shortstop for the Padres last season. The only one to contribute significantly from an offensive point of view was Yangervis Solarte. He was traded to Toronto for prospect Edward Olivares last month. Erick Aybar played in the majority of games at the position and is now a free agent. Chase d’Arnaud is now with the Giants and Luis Sardinas was traded to Baltimore. Now with Galvis, the shortstop position has stability, even if it’s just for one-two seasons. 

Related Story: Padres Could Win Big In Solarte Trade

Only Allen Cordoba and Dusty Coleman remain from last year. Cordoba, a Rule 5 draft pick last season, hit just .208 in San Diego and will need a significant amount of time developing in the minors before he’s ready to contribute. According to MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell, Coleman (.227/.268/.455/.722) recently earned a non-roster invite to spring training, making him the only backup option at the moment. 

Cory Spangenberg is a utility player that could step in if the Padres don’t bring in anyone else. However, he’s only played one game at shortstop his entire professional career and will serve as the primary backup at second and third base.

Bringing in a veteran shortstop for spring training and seeing how lineups/rotation could shake out isn’t a bad idea. Let’s take a look at one option that could serve multiple roles on an extremely young Padres team.

J.J. Hardy is still one of the best defensive shortstops in baseball.

San Diego doesn’t need to spend a bunch of money on a backup shortstop rental, nor do they have to. Hence, J.J. Hardy makes sense. The Baltimore Orioles declined to pick up his $14 million option for 2018, instead, paying him a $2 million buyout. A one-year, incentive-laden contract could sway the three-time Gold Glove winner.

Hardy has been one of the most well-respected men in all of baseball over his 13-year major league career. He has a career slash line of .256/.305/.408/.714 with 188 home runs. However, his biggest contribution, should he sign with the Padres, would come on defense. Yes he’s 35, and yes, he’s lost a step, but he’s still one of the best in the league. Also, he won’t be required to play in very many games (Galvis started 155 at short last year), so fatigue and wear-and-tear should not be an issue for Hardy. 

According to Buster Olney, since 2013, only four shortstops have more defensive runs saved than Hardy.

His 2.7 UZR/150 would have been good for 10th among shortstops, if he would have appeared in enough games (he put up 15.4, 10.1, 14.3 from 2014-16). Freddy Galvis was 9th on the list at 3.5.

Hardy finished with a dWAR of 0.4, pretty impressive for a 34-year-old suffering from back spasms. Few defenders in the game flash the glovework and footwork like Hardy does. It may not be highlight reel material, but from a mechanical perspective, his defense is a beautiful thing to watch.

Hardy would provide unmatched leadership on a young San Diego Padres team.

Most importantly, Hardy would provide a veteran mentor presence to the young prospects coming to camp. Galvis and Hardy (or any backup they sign) are strictly stopgap options before Fernando Tatis, Jr and Luis Urias are major-league ready. Take a look at the development of Jonathan Schoop in Baltimore. J.J. Hardy played a significant role in that and could do the same for our future Friars.

Frankly, the Padres don’t have a true clubhouse leader on the team. Adding Hardy would provide young, future superstars with a prime example of how a leader operates.I believe that alone is worth the small amount Hardy will covet.

Two freak accidents led to Hardy appearing in just 73 games last season, bringing his Orioles’ career to a close. A foul ball off his foot and a pitch to his wrist caused him to miss nearly three months and post just a .217 average. Still, if want to see how respected the man was, take a look at this at-bat from his final game at Camden Yards.

I also urge you to check out this interview Hardy conducted with BaltimoreBaseball.com’s Dan Connolly. It’s one of the most candid interviews you will ever read and provides amazing insights into one of the good guys in baseball.

We’ll see what GM A.J. Preller decides to do. While there are younger options with better offensive tools, my vote is for J.J. Hardy.

Next: Padres Sign Former World Series Champion and All-Star

facebooktwitterreddit