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J.J. Hardy signs extension with Orioles

Baltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz, from left, J.J. Hardy

Baltimore Orioles' Nelson Cruz, from left, J.J. Hardy and Steve Pearce celebrate after scoring on a double by Delmon Young in the eighth inning of Game 2 in the AL Division Series against the Detroit Tigers in Baltimore, Friday, Oct. 3, 2014. Credit: AP / Nick Wass

BALTIMORE - Cross J.J. Hardy off the list of possible replacements for Derek Jeter.

The Orioles shortstop, a free-agent-to-be until Thursday, signed a three-year, $40-million extension Thursday night, terms first reported by Fox Sports.

Hardy, who had a slash line of .268/.309/.372 with nine home runs and 52 RBIs this season, would have drawn some interest from the Yankees, though it's debatable how strong a push they would have made. They liked Hardy in the past, but there were some red flags, such as his age (32) and a back issue down the stretch that contributed to his hitting .164 with two RBIs in 17 September games.

Free agency was tempting, but Hardy said he wanted to stay with the Orioles.

"It crossed my mind, but at the same time, this is where I wanted to be," he said. "There's a lot of uncertainty in free agency. You don't know what's going to happen. I knew that I liked it here and I liked playing with all my teammates. Bottom line, it comes down to winning, and I think we've got a good thing here."

The Yankees have Brendan Ryan under contract for another year, but they are unlikely to turn the position over to the all-field, little-hit veteran. Stephen Drew, who joined the club at the trade deadline, is another option, though not one who would excite fans.

On the free-agent front, the Yankees could look at the Nationals' Asdrubal Cabrera, a player they've scouted extensively whose star has faded somewhat in recent years.

On the trade front, the White Sox's Alexei Ramirez, the Diamondbacks' Didi Gregorius and the Royals' Alcides Escobar could be among the possibilities.


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