Closing with a flurry

As we approach the Rule 5 draft, the Orioles have made two trades and re-signed their closer.

So much for “doubtful,” right Andy?

Multiple reports confirm that the Orioles and Twins completed a deal after midnight that will send shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore for minor league pitchers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

The Orioles also would receive utility infielder Brendan Harris, which doesn’t bode well for Robert Andino. I’d also put away my Cesar Izturis jersey unless you’re into throwbacks.

At least on the surface, this looks like a steal for the Orioles. Hoey recently was added to the 40-man roster, but he’s been dealing with health issues - and a straight fastball - since making his last appearance in the majors in 2007. Jacobson, acquired from the Tigers in the Aubrey Huff trade, was 8-1 with a 2.79 ERA in 34 relief appearances at Single-A Frederick.

I’ll gladly take, in return, a starting shortstop with a strong arm and some pop and a utility infielder who can play all four positions.

The key is keeping Hardy healthy.

The Orioles haven’t addressed their bullpen, but there’s still plenty of time. Sign Kevin Gregg and the backend will look formidable. And somebody has to play first base. Again, I’d overpay for the best available free agent, but that’s just me.

Mark Reynolds, J.J. Hardy, Brendan Harris and Koji Uehara. The Orioles haven’t overtaken the Yankees, Rays and Red Sox, but they look better on paper right now than they did while I was sitting at my gate at BWI.

I’ll worry about the standings later. I haven’t got time for the pain.

The Orioles are expected to grab a player in the Rule 5 draft, if one of their preferences is still on the board. They also could lose a player, with Double-A reliever Wynn Pelzer the most likely candidate.

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