My preface to this trade proposal is that I do not think the Orioles would do it. They've made numerous statements this off-season about their talented core of Nick Markakis, Adam Jones, J.J. Hardy, and Matt Wieters. Despite the rumors of a possible Jones trade to the Braves, it's very unlikely any of those four will be sent to another team. Since I'm of the opinion that only Wieters shouldn't be on the trading block, I already proposed a trade for Jones to the Nationals, and now I'm going to send Hardy to the Mets.
With the departure of Jose Reyes, the player at the top of the Mets' depth chart for shortstop is Ruben Tejada. Born in 1989, Tejada will be just twenty-two years old through the entire 2012 season and he's never been a touted prospect. He certainly can't even come close to replacing Reyes' production. On their forty-man roster, the Mets have three players who can play shortstop other than Tejada: Wilmer Flores, who is several years away (and who has been moved to 3B), Reese Havens, who is injured pretty much all the time, and Jordany Valdespin, who had a good 2011 but who is a real wild card as far as future performance.
The Mets roster of non-SS infielders is interesting and, other than poor Justin Turner, full of potential. If Ike Davis can come back healthy in 2012, he's a lock for first base. But if he continues to have trouble with his ankle, either utility player Daniel Murphy or Lucas Duda, who split time between 1B and the OF in 2011, could fill in for him. Murphy can also play 2B and after success at the plate last season could oust Turner at the position. David Wright of course anchors third base. Trading Hardy to the Mets would give them the option of sending Tejada back to the minors if they want, and gives the depth at both 2B and SS in the event that some combination of Davis/Murphy/Duda/Turner spends time on the disabled list (Tejada can also play 2B).
But what of the Orioles? Who will play shortstop for them in 2012? Frankly, it doesn't matter in my opinion. Robert Andino can play shortstop, same for Rule 5 draft pick Ryan Flaherty. With the possible return of Brian Roberts (I know, I know), the addition of Matt Antonelli, and the existance of Ryan Adams, 2B has plenty of takers that would allow Andino to go back to SS.
In return for Hardy, I'd ask the Mets for right-handed pitching prospect Jeurys Familia and outfielder Cory Vaughn (son of Greg, not Mo). Both are young, in the same general age range as Manny Machado, Jonathan Schoop, and Dylan Bundy. And while Vaughn is a lesser prospect than that group, Familia would probably become the O's third or fourth highest rated prospect (either in front of or behind Schoop).
Familia started 2011 in High-A ball and after dominating in six starts was promoted to AA where he made 17 starts (87 IP) with a 3.49 ERA, 9.9 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. For more info on him you can check out Amazin' Avenue, Minor League Ball, and Seedlings to Stars. Cory Vaughn split the 2011 season between A and A+. He struggled in A+ but was, according to what I read over at John Sickels' site, struggling with a heel injury. To read more about Vaughn, go to Scouting the Sally.
I hesitated before putting Vaughn into this trade, originally I had Hardy going for Familia alone. After all, Hardy was traded to the Orioles for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson, two relief pitchers who will probably never make any impact in the majors. But after thinking about it I decided to go for a little more. After all, the Orioles were getting Hardy for just one season; he's now signed for three. He's also coming off of his best season in the majors in which he put up a 4.8 fWAR (third time in his career he's been >4) and hit thirty home runs. Taken from that perspective, it seems like a decent trade offer. The Mets are a tough team, though, because who knows what they'll do. Their payroll situation is sticky and they weren't a good team last season. But they're not really the type to stop spending money in order to be better in the future.