Baltimore Orioles: Hardy and Miley hit free agency

The Baltimore Orioles officially cut SS J.J. Hardy loose yesterday by declining his option and allowing him to become a free agent. The same is true of pitcher Wade Miley. The Orioles could have kept both players, but opted not to do so.

The absence of Hardy of course will be felt much more than will that of Miley. Nothing against Miley, but Hardy was an Oriole for much longer and he was kind of an institution in Baltimore. It was also necessary for Hardy to be cut loose, because he’d be the first to tell you that he’s in the autumn of his career. He thinks he can still contribute to a team, but he knows that the clock is ticking.

However he’ll be long remembered as a great Oriole. He was the perfect guy at the perfect time for the Orioles to acquire. They were a young team just on the verge of breaking out when Hardy arrived via trade in 2011. And while perhaps the likes of Jones and later Machado were the de facto team leaders, Hardy was a silent leader in the clubhouse. He led by example, and quite simply by being a good citizen.

That last bit there might sound a bit strange, but it’s true. You’d be shocked what just being there for your teammates can do. Throughout his tenure with the Orioles, there wasn’t one guy on the roster who didn’t believe in and trust J.J. Hardy to a T. The emotional reception by the fans in his last home game speaks volumes to how he’ll be remembered.

So my hope is that Orioles fans wish him well. We might well see him come into Camden Yards as a visitor at some point. And I know that the Orioles’ faithful will react accordingly.

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