Before you ask the obvious question, here’s the answer: yes, the Red Sox were in on discussions for shortstop J.J. Hardy, who was traded from the Milwaukee Brewers to the Minnesota Twins earlier today.
According to a baseball source, the Sox had been engaging with the Brewers in on-and-off discussions involving Hardy since the trading deadline, roughly two weeks before Milwaukee sent the struggling shortstop to the minor leagues. Talks continued up until recently, when the Brewers agreed to send Hardy to the Twins for outfielder Carlos Gomez.
According to the same source, Milwaukee wanted either starter Clay Buchholz or reliever Daniel Bard for Hardy. The Sox were not willing to offer either pitcher. Milwaukee was not interested in righthander Michael Bowden, whom the Sox would have been willing to part with, and the Sox did not have a center field prospect who could match Gomez’s skill set.
Hardy, 27, batted just .227 with 11 home runs, 47 RBIs, and a .659 OPS for Milwaukee last season but batted a combined .280 while averaging 25 home runs and 77 RBI over the previous two seasons. Regarded as a good defensive player, he earned $4.65 million this year and is eligible for salary arbitration. Hardy is not eligible for free agency until after the 2011 campaign.
Hardy has been rumored to be on the trade market for some time because the Brewers intend for highly-regarded prospect Alcides Escobar to take over next season.
The Sox’ interest in Hardy certainly suggests that the club is not committed to Alex Gonzalez, on whom the Sox hold a $6 million option for next season. The Sox have until later this month to determine whether they will exercise that option. The club also could try to re-sign Gonzalez for a lesser amount.