The left-handed Hardy had a quietly excellent year in 2018, making 30 appearances (including 13 starts) and pitching to a 3.56 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. He posted a career-low 2.30 BB/9, helping keep his ERA down despite a not-so-great 6.30 K/9.
Hardy was effective as a starter, posting a 4.26 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and a 6.25 K/9 across his 13 starts. he was lights out as a reliever, with a 0.98 ERA, a 1.04 WHIP and a tidy 9.33 K/9. That was across just 18.1 innings, though it’s still a great sign how well he pitched while adjusting between the two roles.
At age 31, Hardy is unlikely to factor into the team’s future plans. And it’s entirely possible, likely even, that 2018 was the best season of Hardy’s career. As such, he should be shopped heavily this offseason. Teams are always looking for left-handed relief help, and Hardy’s ability to step into the rotation if necessary will make him a valuable piece for contending teams.
Hardy’s trade value will depend largely on the free agent market for left-handed relievers, which is robust to say the least. Andrew Miller, Zach Britton, Jerry Blevins, Jake Diekman, Justin Wilson and Tony Sipp headline a strong group of lefties – which will likely diminish Hardy’s trade value.
Still, none of those guys are candidates to step into a starting rotation – something Hardy proved he can do last year. I would expect that most contending teams, notably the Yankees, Braves and Astros, could use a player like Hardy. And Detroit’s trade demand should be a handful of high-risk, high-reward prospects that they can groom in the minors and hope blossom.
Hardy likely won’t have more trade value than he does this season, even if the market for a player like him is saturated.