Blog Entry

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Posted on: August 23, 2011 4:02 pm
Edited on: August 23, 2011 7:22 pm

By Evan Brunell

Aaron Hill has been traded to the Diamondbacks in a surprising move. Hill and infielder John McDonald were sent to Arizona in exchange for second baseman Kelly Johnson in what appears to be a change-of-scenery deal.

The trade is primarily constructed around one struggling second baseman being moved for another, with Hill once hitting 36 homers in 2009, his career season to date. The 29-year-old also had a strong year in 2007, but since then has fallen off a cliff. In 2011, Hill is hitting just .225/.270/.313 and is one of the worst offensive hitters in the game, as I outlined last Monday, saying "[Hill] still has a good chance to return to being a league-average player, but anything above and beyond that at this point is just wishful thinking."

To GM Kevin Towers of Arizona, though, Hill isn't wishful thinking. He's a risk, sure, but one that Towers would prefer to take over than continuing to play Kelly Johnson, who began the year as starting second baseman but has seen his playing team decrease; hitting just .181/.246/.324 since the All-Star break will do that. In reality, Johnson has only had two good months, that being May and July. These months are why Johnson is hitting .209/.287/.412 overall. Still, it's better than Hill, and Johnson has a better shot at recapturing past glory, as he has strong seasons in 2007, 2008 and 2010 in his resume.

"He's struggled to put together a year like he had last year," Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson told the Associated Press. "It wasn't from a lack of work. To be honest with you, it was very tough to tell him he got traded today. He has high expectations of himself, he's very professional. He worked harder -- he probably worked too hard."

Johnson is an impending free agent, but currently qualifies as a Type-B free agent, which would net the Jays a compensatory pick. Anthopoulous greatly values acquiring picks and has made moves in the past to pick up players who can return draft-pick compensation. Of course, Johnson could always mess things up and accept arbitration, but his ensuing contract would be far from crippling. A hot streak to finish the season could also vault Johnson into Type-A territory, although it's difficult to imagine a team willingly giving up its first-round pick to sign Johnson to a deal in that case.

Hill is also slated to be a free agent assuming Arizona doesn't pick up $18 million in club options to pay Hill over the next two years, which it won't. That will allow Hill to walk, and he will likely qualify as a Type B free agent. The better chances of Johnson recapturing his value is where John McDonald comes in. McDonald is a backup infielder who can't hit, but does provide strong defense. That's in high demand for Arizona, who needs more bodies behind starting shortstop Willie Bloomquist with incumbent Stephen Drew out for the season with injury.

Given that both principal players in the deal will both be free agents and both likely to fetch similar compensation picks, this deal smacks of a change of scenery. Johnson wasn't working out anymore in Arizona, and with a division race to worry about, Towers grabbed a replacement second baseman with prior success that could break out in the desert, while adding a quality backup infielder. The Jays, meanwhile, get someone with a touch more upside and a better chance to stick long term, so one could argue that Toronto came out on top of the deal.

The Diamondbacks transferred starting pitcher Jason Marquis to the 60-day disabled list to clear out room for Hill and McDonald on the 40-man roster, while the Jays called up catcher Brian Jeroloman.

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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 21, 2011 1:58 am
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Since: Dec 2, 2011
Posted on: December 18, 2011 8:37 pm
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Since: Jul 24, 2007
Posted on: August 24, 2011 1:46 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Change of scenery and nothing more. Johnson is near the top of the NL in whiffs, a horrific hitting season, pending free agent, and Hill is a downgrade defensively. No lose situation for either team, and probably better for the D'backs since Johnson was sloted near the top of the order and unproductive. 

Since: Mar 9, 2007
Posted on: August 24, 2011 1:41 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

I think the Blue Jays got fleeced on this trade. A trade to a team fighting for a playoff spot and all they get back for Hill is Johnson, yikes....

What do you think they could've gotten for Aaron Hill, Justin Upton or Ian Kennedy maybe? Hill's value is next to nothing right now. For the casual baseball fan, they would look at Hill's numbers and think: "36 & 26 homeruns at 2nd base in 2009 & 2010? What a stud!"

Now back to reality, take a look at that OBP. Yowza. In 138 games last season he ended with a .270 OBP. That is just a offensive black hole. In 2009 he had a much more respectable .330 OBP, but for a career year, that is still a below average OBP. The point is that Hill is a free swinger & pitchers have figured out how to get him out in the AL East. His only hope is to escape to another division where he can maybe reinvent himself a little.

On the flip side getting anything for Aaron Hill, let alone getting another team's starting 2B for Hill, is a miracle. Is there anything Alex can't do???? Also Slumpigula here is a simple baseball tip: BATTING AVERAGE IS A LIE! OBP is the true measure of a hitter's value. 

Since: Oct 16, 2007
Posted on: August 24, 2011 11:30 am

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Umm, Yunel Escobar doesn't seem to be sucking too bad here in TorontoTongue outAnd as for Aaron Hill, I hope he does great in Arizona( But also hope Johnson does even better) As for Johnny Mac ? see you back in Dunedin this spring as a UFA

Since: Jul 17, 2007
Posted on: August 24, 2011 12:40 am

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Kelly is a new start pariah. Hill is just horrid. This is up there with how over rated Jeff Francouer has been over the years...neither has a place in the majors other than a flash in the pan.

irony-Braves prospects sucking outside of Atlanta while Atlanta builds another nucleus.

Since: Aug 7, 2008
Posted on: August 23, 2011 10:13 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

Good deal for both teams the D-backs and Blue Jays. Both players in Aaron Hill and Kelly Johnson need a new start and hopefully this can help them out a lot a new place to be at. Overall this move if Hill can regain his power hitting will help the D-backs a lot and hopefully win the NL West from the no hitting and run down team of the Giants.

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: August 23, 2011 9:39 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

     I must admid I'm sad to see both players leave Toronto. Macdonald was a popular player, you'll love his defense in the desert. 

    What can I say about Aaron Hill? We just kept waiting for him to overcome that concussion he had, and recover that magic he showed early on. Alas, it never happened. I wish him the best and hope he does get back to somewhat of a player he was prior to the collision.

    Now being a Jays fan first and formost, I hope that the trade works out for us in that Kelly Johnson becomes the player that he was as well. I was saying to some of the baseball fans I believe a change was in order for Hill so he could try to get his form, well the same must apply to Johnson.

    So I'll take this oppertunity to GOOD LUCK to all three, and welcome to the Blue Jays Kelly!

Since: Nov 18, 2008
Posted on: August 23, 2011 8:40 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

I really don't understand this deal at all. The D backs really gained nothing except maybe a loss in team cohesiveness. They are in 1st place, I don't know why they would want to upset the apple cart if Hill doesn't fit in with the team. Hill may raise his batting avereage a bit playing against the National leagues finess pitchers rather than the American leagues power pitchers. This is not a trade I would have made.  But who knows.

Since: Jul 29, 2011
Posted on: August 23, 2011 7:46 pm

Jays swap Hill to Diamondbacks for Johnson

This is a good move for both teams.  Arizona has a 1 game lead in the west and adding these guys adds depth.  Kelly Johnson wasn't having a great season so a change of scenery may benefit him.  The same can be said for Aaron Hill, a change of scenery may benefit him as well! For know it looks like a wash.  John Mcdonald is a defensive guru as far as I'm concerned and can fill in at multiple positions.  Late in games this will only benefit the Diamondbacks down the stretch to win the division and get to the post season.  A good move and I hope John Mcdonald, a classy guy, gets to to the post season.  And who doesn't want to see Kurt Gibson managing in the Playoffs? 

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