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Orioles, J.J. Hardy have reached a three-year contract extension

There is some excitement for the Orioles on the off day after all. They've reached a three-year extension with shortstop J.J. Hardy and are expected to announce it Thursday afternoon.

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J.J. Hardy has been one of the most indispensable Orioles this year. He also has the distinction of being one of the few players on this year's team who can become a free agent at the end of the season. Nightmare scenarios of Hardy taking up the shortstop position for a deep-pocketed division rival were certainly in play.

There will be no more having to worry about that. On the eve of the American League Championship Series, the Orioles are set to announce a three-year contract extension for their shortstop. Rumblings of an imminent extension were first reported by Jeremy Conn of 105.7, with Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal providing the salient detail that the contract is for three years with a fourth year option and a value of "north of $40 million."

Now, instead of worrying about Hardy going off to play for the Yankees, we can instead debate things like the wisdom of giving a three-year extension to a 32-year-old infielder who missed a few games this year with assorted nagging injuries.

1:15pm Update: MASN'S Roch Kubatko added a few more contours of the deal, with the detail that it is three years, $40 million. $6.5 million of the contract will be deferred, and the fourth year option can be reached based on number of plate appearances. The deferred amount is probably what will push the total "north of $40 million," as Rosenthal reported.

Still, given the expected market, it's a good deal for the Orioles and probably a good deal for Hardy too. How far north of $40 million that it ends up being may change the contours somewhat, but $14-15 million a year for a player with Hardy's track record and skill set is probably about right. The O's almost certainly would have given him a qualifying offer ($15.3 million for one year) that he would have declined, reducing his value in the open market. Works out well for Hardy because he seems to like being here and on this team and now he gets to keep doing that.

It's a nice raise for Hardy, too, who's currently playing out the final year of a three-year contract worth $22.25 million. That deal was negotiated by Andy MacPhail, who also brought Hardy to the Orioles in a trade. Thanks, Andy!

Although Hardy hit a disappointing .268/.309/.372 this season with only nine home runs, he was a significant positive in the field, probably doing enough to earn himself another Gold Glove. Hardy was a big part of why the Orioles turned so many double plays.

Over four seasons, Hardy has played in 587 games for the O's. With another three and possibly four years on top of that, if he stays healthy, he could end up with over a thousand games played for the franchise, which would put him in the top 20 in franchise history.

There's risk for both sides, the Orioles because Hardy will age, Hardy because he might have gotten more as a free agent, but as manager Buck Showalter likes to say, "I like our guys."