BALTIMORE -- The Orioles' top priority remains upgrading their pitching staff, and one of the names drawing the most outside interest in a trade is shortstop J.J. Hardy, whose name surfaced in a potential deal with the Cardinals on Wednesday.
An industry source confirmed a CBSSports.com report Wednesday that the O's asked the Cards, who are looking to acquire a shortstop, for pitcher Shelby Miller, a deal that was quickly struck down by St. Louis.
While Hardy's name will continue to come up in offseason rumblings, the Orioles aren't actively trying to move him so much as just listening to other teams' offers.
"We are not shopping J.J. Hardy," executive vice president of baseball operations Dan Duquette told MLB.com from the General Managers Meetings in Orlando, Fla. "The fact that other clubs might be interested in him would be a good reflection on the kind of year that he had. He had a great year. He won the Silver Slugger and he won the Gold Glove.
"If somebody reported that [he's being shopped], that's not true. Are there other clubs that are interested in J.J. Hardy? Who wouldn't be interested in a shortstop that just won the Gold Glove and captured the Silver Slugger?"
Hardy, in the final year of a three-year, $22 million extension, is a major part of what the Orioles are trying to do, and moving him would create a huge hole in the infield. Even if Baltimore's long-term plan is to move Manny Machado to third base, the 21-year-old is coming off left knee surgery, and that would create another vacancy at third. It's still unknown what Jonathan Schoop and Ryan Flaherty can provide, and the O's already have one hole in the infield with the departure of second baseman Brian Roberts, who is a free agent.
Hardy's combination of power and defense -- plus his contract status -- makes him a prime candidate to come up in offseason rumors. As evidenced by the Cardinals' rejection of the trade, it's probably not enough to acquire an impact pitcher, and dealing Hardy would create another huge hole in a defense that set a Major League record in 2013 for fewest miscues in a season and most errorless games.
Hardy, the anchor of the Orioles' defense, is one of manager Buck Showalter's favorite players, and signing him for another year or two could be wise given that there's no help on the horizon in the Minors. Hardy has also made it well-known how much he likes playing in Baltimore.
The O's best avenue to upgrade this offseason is to make a trade, and they'll explore a lot of the same names and available arms that they kicked the tires on around the July non-waiver Trade Deadline, when they acquired Bud Norris. As was the case last year, Duquette has to put any of the club's top pitching prospects on the table, including Kevin Gausman and Eduardo Rodriguez. Dylan Bundy, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, would be a sell-low commodity and would be tough to justify as well.
So who could be had in the right deal? According to a tweet from FOXSports.com, the Orioles would be "willing" to deal catcher Matt Wieters this winter, a school of thinking that shows just how unlikely a long-term extension is for the All-Star backstop.
"If we were going to pursue an extension with him, it would be between now and the start of the season," Duquette said. "That's something that we can consider, but having tried twice [each of the past two winters] and not come to a long-term agreement, that's not a priority for us right now."
Wieters and first baseman Chris Davis can become free agents after the 2015 season, and they are both represented by Scott Boras. While some feel Davis is more likely to remain in Baltimore than Wieters, Duquette was equally noncommittal on a possible extension.
"Chris Davis had a great year, obviously," Duquette said of Davis, who is a finalist for the American League MVP Award. "Any of these guys that do well and do well in the community, we'd like to have them with us long-term."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. MLB.com reporter Adam Berry contributed to this story. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less