What is the future at shortstop in Baltimore?

So who will be playing at shortstop for the Orioles in 2015? Well, we have to get through next year first and J.J. Hardy, who has won two straight Gold Gloves, will be there come April.

But what about the future of the position in Baltimore? Will Hardy be there after next season? If not him, does Manny Machado then move to short?

During the Winter Meetings, O’s executive vice president Dan Duquette said he would like to begin contract extension talks with Hardy later this winter, but they have not happened just yet.

“He had a great year this year,” Duquette said. “He got the Gold Glove and the Silver Slugger and made the All-Star team. Very rare does a player get that trifecta.

“We’re very happy with J.J. Hardy and hope J.J is happy with us and we’ll have an opportunity to explore that this winter. We’ve got some time to do that.”

So it sounds like Hardy at short beyond 2014 is the club’s top option right now. And why not? Why break up one of the best left sides of an infield in baseball?

But what will it take to sign Hardy, who will turn 32 in August, and how risky is tying up a shortstop with a contract at his age?

Then comes the issue of Machado at short. He played well there in the minors and no one seems to doubt he’d be excellent at shortstop in the majors. But some fans don’t feel he should be moved off third since he is playing so well there. If Machado did move to short, then who would play at third? It’s something that must be resolved if and when the time comes to move Manny to short.

There are a lot of shortstop questions for the Orioles. Should they try to sign Hardy long-term or let the Manny era at short begin in 2015?

Baseball America top 10 list coming tomorrow: On Tuesday, Baseball America will release its latest listing of the Orioles’ top 10 prospects. I have a little insight on that this year since I put together and authored the list for Baseball America. I was honored to be asked to do that and it was a quite a project, compiling a top 30 also with players ranked 11 through 30 coming out later in the “Baseball America Prospect Handbook 2013.”

On Tuesday morning, I’ll provide an interview with Baseball America’s John Manuel, who will discuss how the O’s prospects stack up with the rest of the American League East. After the O’s top 10 is released on the Baseball America Web site, I’ll have some thoughts on that list right here.

I’ll also be hosting a subscribers-only chat for Baseball America on Tuesday afternoon on the O’s list, but will be around to answer any questions. So I look forward to a busy Tuesday of talking about O’s prospects.

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