Diamondbacks Acquire Hill, McDonald For Johnson

The Diamondbacks acquired second baseman Aaron Hill and shortstop John McDonald from the Blue Jays for Kelly Johnson, tweets John Gambadoro Sports 620 KTAR.  Both teams confirmed the trade in a press release.

Johnson, a favorite of Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos, has slumped to .209/.287/.412 in 481 plate appearances this year.  He has $1.16MM remaining on his contract and projects as a high Type B in the National League.  He's probably still at least a B in the AL, which has to be Toronto's motivation in acquiring the impending free agent.

Hill, 29, has been worse than Johnson at .225/.270/.313 in 429 plate appearances.  His $8MM club option is expected to be declined after the season, at which point he'd be a Type B free agent.  I'm not sure what Anthopoulos gets out of the swap.  Maybe he thinks Johnson will be a Type A and will decline arbitration, or maybe he's just more inclined to offer arbitration to Johnson than Hill.  Or, maybe he hopes to extend Johnson cheaply.  Hill has about $990K remaining on his contract.  McDonald, a defensive whiz, has about $300K remaining, so the money is pretty close.

From Arizona's point of view, McDonald can pitch in at shortstop with Willie Bloomquist, since Stephen Drew is out for the season.  As for liking Hill over Johnson, perhaps GM Kevin Towers feels a change of scenery will help, or he prefers Hill's defense.

The Diamondbacks and Blue Jays last matched up on a trade three years ago, when the Toronto acquired David Eckstein for Chad Beck.


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253 Comments on "Diamondbacks Acquire Hill, McDonald For Johnson"


Achyut Patil
3 years 11 months ago

Traded to D-backs with John McDonald for Kelly Johnson.

BlastRadius
3 years 11 months ago

If this is true the Jays will have lost a truly great infielder… and Aaron Hill

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

Was gonna lose him anyways. Doubt AA would’ve picked his options.

3 years 11 months ago

Let me guess… Aaron Hill and Francisco for Justin Upton?

Sohaib Syed
3 years 11 months ago

yep on jays message board someone posted it wayyyy before

i think this is true

I dont mind Johsnon

3 years 11 months ago

Johnson is basically 2010 Aaron Hill. He’s obviously an improvement over 2011 Aaron Hill, but that’s not saying much.

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

Agree. Likely AA will get comp pick for losing Johnson and promote Hech.

3 years 11 months ago

Ahhh, forgot Johnson’s an FA after this year. 

3 years 11 months ago

Why would he promote Hech?

3 years 11 months ago

not clear that Hech will be ready by next season (unless we want to see a sub mendoza BA).

3 years 11 months ago

not clear that Hech will be ready by next season (unless we want to see another sub mendoza BA).
fixed that for you.

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

yea no kidding! look at how bad he’s struggling in AAA right now: .435/.490/.565

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

that’s 50 plate appearances what is wrong with you

he hit .235/.275/.347 in 500 plate appearances at AA this year

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

What’s wrong with me? Look a little closer at his stats: he hits .235 in 500 PAs, would you or anyone predict that if he’s promoted he’d hit .435, even for his first 50 PAs? No. You’d predict a sub mendoza BA.

Look at 2010: he hits .193 in 167 PAs in high A, earns a promotion, then hits .273 in 273 PAs at AA.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

almost any professional prospect can get hot for 47 PAs in the minors

but i am getting that familiar sinking feeling that you are one of those guys with an immunity to logic & reason, so i think i will save any longer explanations of data and instead just mock you for your focus on batting average in small samples

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

it’s not even about him being hot in AAA

its about facing inferior pitching in a great hitters environment.

Sniderlover
3 years 11 months ago

Well to be fair, he hasn’t played in hitters park until just recently at Vegas and I don’t think he’s even hit in those 2 or 3 games.

He was pretty hot too for a few weeks before getting promoted. 

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

he had the third lowest OPS amongst SS in AA before he was called upp..

David Cooper’s numbers are ridiculous, yet he won’t even be a bench player for the jays..

Most teams don’t put their best pitching prospects in the PCL, a lot of the parks are small and the air really carries.

Encarnacion's Parrot
3 years 11 months ago

Now to be fair on Cooper, he has a .962 OPS in away games this year. Buuuuut, he’s probably a .850 OPS, .340 wOBA guy at the MLB level, max.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

but its not just vegas that has an advantage for hitters, its all of the PCL..

The league average is .293/.350/.440  

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

My point has nothing to do with those 47 ABs. It’s that your batsh|t stupid to assume AH’s BA will be sub-mendoza based on his AA stats.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

quote me saying or even implying that

FrankTheFunkasaurusRex
3 years 11 months ago

lulz. so by your calculations, he’ll hit .700 when he’s promoted to the MLB. moran.

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

yea bro, that’s exactly what I calculated. good eye

ARodinyourPujols
3 years 11 months ago

It’s just a gut feeling but I think that Hech is going to be a player that hits about the same at every level that he plays at. i don’t see him ever being a great hitter maybe peaking at about 280/330/400 and usually around 250/300/350 line but his defence is what is going to be his ticket. 

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

i don’t have anything bad to say about the kid. i just can’t say anything good about him from that 47 PA sample

KJ on a one year deal is a safer play than calling him up, i’d wager

ARodinyourPujols
3 years 11 months ago

Absolutely agree, wasn’t arguing, just adding a little to the pot. I don’t know if the plan is to move Hech to second, and I don’t think I would agree with it anyways. 

3 years 11 months ago

Why wouldn’t Johnson accept arb?

vtadave
3 years 11 months ago

The team would have an agreement with him not to.  Happens all the time.

3 years 11 months ago

True.  But it only happens when the player feels he could get equivalent money elsewhere.

It’s not like the team goes, we’re gonna offer you arb, but you have to turn it down.
“oh… ok :(“

3 years 11 months ago

Shaun Rachau (the D’backs PR rep) just confirmed on twitter Kelly Johnson to Toronto for Hill and Josh McDonald

briantalletsmoustache
3 years 11 months ago

So the Jays keep Johnny Mac? Sweet!

3 years 11 months ago

whoops, meant john. Can’t keep these guys straight sometimes

$1526717
3 years 11 months ago

Weird trade. Both are useless offensively, but at least KJ has some pop. Hill’s power seems completely gone. I guess Hill/McDonald is a pretty significant defensive upgrade.

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

They both have pop, maybe some change in scener helps them both!

Sniderlover
3 years 11 months ago

UZR seems to like Johnson defensively this year and last year. Hill hasn’t been that good defensively… at least not like in the past.

I don’t like losing Johnnymac because he’s so awesome but I like the trade. Johnson was fantastic last year.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

DRS and +/- both rate johnson pretty poorly this year and below average most of his career. they have hill as below average this year but above average most of his career

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

DRS and +/- both rate johnson pretty poorly this year and below average most of his career. they have hill as below average this year but above average most of his career

3 years 11 months ago

Johnson was very good last year, but he did most of it at home, and he was terrible the year before and he’s terrible this year. Nothing for Toronto to lose by kicking the tires on him, but he might just be a Marcus Giles type.

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

All hail AA.

Kate
3 years 11 months ago

Honest question: are you happy about this trade? I’ve always liked Kelly Johnson and I hope he can get things figured out again. Maybe the Jays will give him a great chance to do that.

As a Nats fan, your GM makes me even more ashamed of my own GM, heh.

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

To be honest, it’s likely only a move to grab comp picks from Johnson.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

could have gotten a comp pick from hill. johnson isn’t likely to go anywhere if he becomes a type A

they’re the same age, both having terrible years and making almost the same money. i don’t think this is about compensation picks. it’s probably about a mancrush on kelly johnson

Sniderlover
3 years 11 months ago

I have a hard time seeing Hill decline arbitration.

Anyways, the deal doesn’t have to be about the pick, I doubt AA is that desperate to get picks. He tried to get Johnson before and Jays obviously need a 2B so he could just be out 2nd baseman next year until they find someone else.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

i have a hard time seeing either declining arbitration

Sniderlover
3 years 11 months ago

Agreed.

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

Good thing AH is a lot worse than KJ

alxn
3 years 11 months ago

in what way?

grownice
3 years 11 months ago

 obp and slg%

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

Look beyond batting average.  Johnson is having a significantly better season than Hill, both offensively and defensively.  The difference between Johnson last year and this year is almost entirely BABIP.  Johnson is a much, much better bet to get a comp pick.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

who are you predicting will offer him good money over multiple years such that a one-year, $6M contract to rebuild value and hit a weak free agent market at age 30 would be the inferior option?

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

Didn’t say it was a certainty, said it was a much better bet than with Hill.  Which it is.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

didn’t say you said it was a certainty, asked you to provide evidence that it’s a “much better bet than hill”, rather than simply reassert it

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

Sorry, my evidence is that Johnson is more productive than Hill, and thus more likely to receive a favorable contract.  I’m not really inclined to go through every team and evaluate their off-season plans at 2B, but I think the “better player = more likely to decline arbitration” thesis is sound, no?

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

sure, but if that likelihood range is 1% v. 10%, it doesn’t matter at all

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

Sorry, my evidence is that Johnson is more productive than Hill, and thus more likely to receive a favorable contract.  I’m not really inclined to go through every team and evaluate their off-season plans at 2B, but I think the “better player = more likely to decline arbitration” thesis is sound, no?

3 years 11 months ago

probably would not have gotten the comp for hill. Why would he turn down arbitration? He almost certainly wasn’t going to get more on the market. he could accept arb and try to rebuild his value.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

i agree, but that doesn’t distinguish him from johnson at all

3 years 11 months ago

I think it has to do w/ preserving Hill’s comp pick, more than anything. If you look at his past Elias rankings this year, he’s starting to drop like a rock, almost to a level of non-compensation. 64.57 to 60.84 from late June ’til today, with ~57.7 being the current cut-off.

Meanwhile, Johnson could have bumped himself into the Type A bracket in the NL with another of his hot streaks…which could have led to no FA market for him. What team’s going to give up their first pick for Kelly Johnson??

Hill’s value is likely boosted in the rankings by moving to the NL, Johnson’s is probably lowered by going to the AL. Both keep B status, which is what the clubs (and potentially the players) prefer.

Compensation pick preservation at its finest, folks…

-C

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

…neither is going to receive a strong multi-year offer such that they’d decline arbitration raises on their $5M salaries at age 29. they’d accept, attempt to rebound, and hit a weak free agent market in 2012 and age 30

i don’t see a case for compensation picks being the main motivation for either side here

3 years 11 months ago

I can see Johnson getting a two-year deal w/ enough guaranteed money that it makes sense over settling for a single year of arb and relying on a good season to earn that extra cash…but only if he’s not a Type A free agent. If that were the case, he’d have to accept because no one’s going to give up a pick for him.

Hill doesn’t make much sense, though, unless he was willing to trade a gentleman’s agreement to decline arbitration for a chance at playing in the postseason.

The deal is certainly a bit of a head-scratcher.

-C

crashcameron
3 years 11 months ago

a lefty bat, that’s distinguishing. purely a change of scene trade. and a favour to the distinguished (as in classy and clutch) Johnny Mac, to give him a playoff chance

3 years 11 months ago

If Johnson stays in Toronto, then he provides a better fit than Hill. If I could wave a magic wand and make Hill a LHB, I would do it in an instant.

3 years 11 months ago

did you guys forget about something called ‘waivers’?

woadude
3 years 11 months ago

Yeah, all of the said players cleared those.

bigpat
3 years 11 months ago

Hmm… two underachieving second basemen swapped for each other. Not sure which one I’d prefer. Can’t really say a team won this trade at this point.

3 years 11 months ago

Not sure if this is a grab for draft picks, but KJ was a Type B in latest Elias update. However, he’s changing leagues and was right on the fringe of A/B, so he could still end up being an A at season’s end.

Jose_Bautista
3 years 11 months ago

Hopefully he is B and he declines. That seems to be the grand plan. Hech will be up sooner than later.

jeffdg
3 years 11 months ago

Hech isnt a 2B.

Falgun Javia
3 years 11 months ago

I am in arizona and a season ticket holder and let me say KJ is great defensively but crappy at bat. i think he is batting .100 past one and half month hence reason for trade.

briantalletsmoustache
3 years 11 months ago

In that case, Hill will fit right in. 

3 years 11 months ago

Brian Tallet’s Moustache + Brian Tallet’s sideburns = pure shaggy hippy gold.  I met him once in a Mexican place downtown… why doesn’t he just order a burrito from Mexico and fly it in?  I say again, shaggy hippy.

cgreen127
3 years 11 months ago

classic toronto, they probably weren’t gonna pick up Hill’s option anyway, here they will get a draft pick or two if johnson declines arbitration. 

3 years 11 months ago

plus Hill definitely wouldn’t have decline arb.

guydavis
3 years 11 months ago

What’s the chance Johnson does though?

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

if he’s a type B free agent, which he will be.. a lot more likely than Hill

Plus..if you have to risk offering one of them arb, its less of a risk to offer it to KJ as opposed to Hill. Kj has a better track record, and AA has had an eye on him for a while.

Bret Wask
3 years 11 months ago

This is a draft pick move.  We always see Toronto make these trades.  Very smart.  They offer Johnson arbitration and pick up the picks.

I have not idea why the Diamondbacks make this trade.  I know Johnson is having a bad year, but compared to Hill’s 2011 Johnson looks like an all-star

cgreen127
3 years 11 months ago

they essentially got the same player in return + a utility infielder which they could use since stephen drew went down. plus, hill has the potential to put up another huge season, just isn’t likely..

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

They’re not the same player.  A 30 point difference in wOBA is significant.

mhunke
3 years 11 months ago

not to mention the fact that Hill has progressively declined over the past 2 seasons. Can’t imagine how bad 2012 Hill will be. Especially in that park, he have even more reason to convince himself not to change his approach (and use a lighter bat).

3 years 11 months ago

I agree with @cgreen127 – I expect Hill to bounce back to a .275 / 20 HR / 80 RBI kind of year… what’s interesting is that it feels like Hill’s D has slipped somewhat this year…  could just be perception though

vilifyingforce
3 years 11 months ago

Wow, those are some sky high expectations.

3 years 11 months ago

Dammit. Johnny Mac was my favourite Jays player.

3 years 11 months ago

lmao go listen to the interview with AA, Hill and Mac(on tsn), it sounds like they have a deal in place to come back next season. I dont know if this is considered tampering.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

it will be nice to see Johnny Mac have a chance to go for a run, he is a vet after all..

3 years 11 months ago

AA just implied that mac will be back next year.

3 years 11 months ago

Another Left handed bat 😀

Falgun Javia
3 years 11 months ago

Essentially they are the same player, both great defensively but really bad at bat

3 years 11 months ago

Is Johnson great defensively…I thought I heard the opposite.

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

Sorry to sound like a broken record, but look at the stats, guys.  Johnson is much better both offensively and defensively than Hill.

Johnson – .310 wOBA, 3.9 UZR, 1.6 WAR

Hill – .265 wOBA, -1.8 UZR, -0.5 WAR

That’s a 2.1 WAR difference.  Maybe ‘Zona thinks Hill is a better bounce back candidate than Johnson (although Johnson’s career wOBA is 23 points higher than Hill’s) but they haven’t been close to equivalent this year.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

i like UZR, but particularly when players received mixed reviews from it, you should check the other metrics. DRS and +/- consistently rate johnson below average and hill above

boxiebrown
3 years 11 months ago

That’s fair, although his 3 year UZR numbers are better than Hill’s, too.  And even if you discount the defense, the offensive gap is very real.

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

absolutely. i am not an aaron hill fan at all

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

how could you like Pedroia and not like Aaron Hill, that makes Zero sense

ellisburks
3 years 11 months ago

Because Pedroia is vastly superior offensively, defensively and has the “scrappy undersized told was never going to make it but did against all odds” thing going for him. And if you look at hills one big year his OPS was .829 that would be Dustin’s fourth best OPS. So that is how you can like one but not the other.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

I’m saddened my your inability to pick up my blatantly clear sarcasm :(

azdsnd
3 years 11 months ago

KJ is definitely an above-average defender.  Been watching him for nearly two years, and definitely impressed.

3 years 11 months ago

A great way for the Jays to test drive a player they would be interested in signing in Free Agency. A trade of struggling second basemen for each other, both of which seem desperate for a change of scenery.

3 years 11 months ago

If this pans out, I find myself more upset at the prospect of losing JMac than Hill.

AxePriest
3 years 11 months ago

This is not a draft pick move.  Draft pick is a back up, but Toronto desperately needs a 2b for next year.  This way they get to test one out, and worst case, get a draft pick.  But make no mistake this move was made to get a 2b, not a draft pick.

3 years 11 months ago

Exactly. Johnson is an ungrade over Hill now (look at their wOBA’s), and his recent slump is probably largely BABIP-driven (.257 this year despite 18.5% LD%). So he’s a decent bet to improve over his current numbers and put up something close to 3-4 WAR/year in the immediate future. Certainly a better bet than Hill, and both would likely get similar arbitration awards coming off a down year (Hill makes $5M this year, Johnson just under $6M, and they would get nominal raises, likely, after bad 2011 seasons).

This acquisition can play out in several ways:
1) Jays extend Johnson relatively cheaply due to his bad 2011 season and bounce-back potential. Could 3/25-30 do it?
2) Jays offer arbitration and Johnson accepts. The Jays get an upgrade at 2B for next year with high upside due to his low 2011 BABIP for a reasonable contract (say 6-7M for the 1 season). They can then evaluate Johnson in 2012 and decide to extend him at that point or, if he bounces back and can get a long term FA deal, let him go for picks and fill the 2B position some other way in 2013 (call up Hechavarria or FA then).
3) Jays offer arbitration and Johnson declines:
    a) Jays resign Johnson, a player they could (would?) have targeted anyway, and
        they get the exclusivity window as well
    b) Johnson resigns elsewhere, and the Jays get the comp picks.

All of these result in distinct benefit for the Jays, either in the form of keeping Johnson for relatively cheap (a definite slight upgrade over Hill and very possible large one) or comp picks that may not have been available had Hill stayed, as he might not hang onto Type B status had he stayed in the AL. This is a definite winner for the Jays, though maybe not the fleecing we have come to expect from AA.

nats2012
3 years 11 months ago

I like Kelly Johnson.

Jeffy25
3 years 11 months ago

God AA is glod

3 years 11 months ago

For THIS?

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

honestly

ellisburks
3 years 11 months ago

Save us Jeebus.

Casor_Greener
3 years 11 months ago

I’m so sick of guys riding this AA dude’s tip.

All this stuff has amounted to nothing but the same 4th p[lace finish they have been doing for years.

Until he uses that money to get a Prince Fielder or major game-changer.  All this “building for the future” crap is for losers….consistent losers

notsureifsrs
3 years 11 months ago

“until i see him overpay for a free agent, he’s dumb. a real GM would have taken the franchise from a 4th place organizational mess to the series in six months. just look at all the examples in history where that has happened”

Casor_Greener
3 years 11 months ago

Who said anything about overpaying for a free agent. They can sign the right free agents and it works for most teams who are on the cusp of winning. But hey man keep taking cast-offs and see how quick they gets you to a championship.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

‘Until he uses that money to get a Prince Fielder or major game-changer’

you did you tool

Casor_Greener
3 years 11 months ago

That’s signing for a free agent not over paying. I don’t consider Tex, Holliday,  or AGonz over-paid so just because I advocating signing a free agent  doesn’t mean over-paying.

But go ahead and keep flexing those keyboard muscles with the name calling.  Never hard to find a internet soldier.

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

I totally agree

“All this “building for the future” crap is for losers….consistent losers ”

Eat it.

3 years 11 months ago

Glod to get rid of Aaron Hill?

Lunchbox45
3 years 11 months ago

While I agree that AA has been quite good, this is a whatever move..

ARodinyourPujols
3 years 11 months ago

I can’t believe someone took Hill. I also can believe we traded Johnny Mac. Always a fan favourite, hopefully it turns out like the trade in 05 when he was sent to Detroit and then comes back at the end of the year.