released information on J.J. Hardy's shoulder. It is now apparent that along with his back spasms, strained groin, and sore oblique muscle, he played the entire season with a torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. It is the same injury that required surgery when he was a minor leaguer. The treatment plan is not surgery, but to let the shoulder rest and heal as much as possible. Then Hardy would work to strengthen his shoulder. He let it be known that he had no interest in seeking out surgery and that the medical advice he was given was that surgery was not an option.
The good news is that this injury does not greatly impact Hardy defensively. His throwing arm is fine and his game is largely one of proper positioning with utilization of that arm. Hardy likely is slightly limited going to his glove side and back, but he should still perform as a plus defensive shortstop. The problem is hitting. Dealing with the pain, Hardy slashed 213/246/306 (46 RC+). His hitting was so awful that it has canceled out his defensive performance, leaving him with an fWAR of 0.0. That is concerning because Hardy has two years left on his deal and a commitment of 28.5 MM.
Do we have any idea as to whether Hardy's bat can bounce back? Labrum tears are consider a near death sentence for pitchers, but not as bad for position players. That said, there appears to be a few caveats. A recent study looked at pitchers and position players with labrum tears with comparison between nonsurgical and surgical approaches. For injuries where surgery is possible, pitchers returned to form 7% of the time (48% returned to throw a pitch professionally). Surgery for position players resulted in a return to form 54% of the time (85% return for at least a plate appearance. Hardy was in the latter group back in 2004.
In 2015, Hardy is in the non-surgical group. This is not as optimistic. For pitchers who took a non-surgical approach, 22% returned to form (40% returned). For position players, 26% returned to form (39% returned). Again, we do not know the exact specifics of Hardy's injury. We simply know that he is a position player and he is treating himself nonsurgically, so there are assumptions. That said, it appears that Hardy might have a one in four shot being a useful shortstop and a much greater chance that he is simply a major league quality glove with a HiA ball bat. A Paul Janish, but making twenty times more.
The question now stands as to what can the Orioles do? A trade seems unlikely. Hardy would probably require the club to send about 20 MM with him to make a deal work. As such, he is either on the active roster or on the disabled list. It would not be surprising to see him open the season on the 60 day DL. Maybe after making themselves sure he can no longer play, he might be released at some point in 2016. Needless to say, the club has now sunk about 12% of their roster into a player who is likely a fringe Major Leaguer.