Aaron Hill Rumors

Stark’s Latest: Lester, Miller, Byrd, Kemp, Danks, Rios

With roughly three days until the non-waiver trade deadline, here are some highlights from the latest Rumblings & Grumblings column by ESPN’s Jayson Stark

  • The Red Sox have contacted every contending team in each league and told them that Jon Lester is available for a two- to three-prospect package fronted by at least one upper-echelon prospect. One executive, however, tells Stark that the Sox simply can’t get as much as the Rays would get if they moved David Price, which isn’t surprising, given Lester’s impending free agency and the remaining year of control that Price has.
  • Lester isn’t the only player being shopped — Boston has firmly planted a “for sale” sign in the ground, and they’re willing to move any impending free agents with the exception of Koji Uehara, whom they hope to re-sign. They’re peddling Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, Stephen Drew, Jonny Gomes and Craig Breslow. The price for Miller is also exorbitant at this time, however, as officials from two interested clubs tell Stark that Boston has asked for one of the top prospects plus a lesser prospect.
  • The Giants have asked the Phillies about Marlon Byrd, but their main priority is second base. The Reds are reassessing their stance after losing eight of nine games, and the Royals have backed off of Byrd. The Mariners appears to be the most logical option, but Byrd still wants his $8MM 2016 vesting option guaranteed to approve a trade there.
  • Byrd tells Stark that he’d have to think long and hard if GM Ruben Amaro Jr. came to him and asked him to approve a trade to a team on his no-trade clause. While his hope was to retire a Phillie, he  appreciates how aggressive Amaro was in signing him. “[Ruben] made it easy for me this offseason,” he said. Still, given the odds that he’d want some form of perk to approve a trade, it’s no longer certain that he gets dealt.
  • While the Red Sox and Mariners have been connected to Matt Kemp, officials from other clubs tell Stark they feel an offseason trade is much more likely than an in-season deal.
  • The White Sox have had scouts watching the Yankees‘ surplus of minor league catchers in recent weeks, fueling speculation that the Yanks would like to acquire John Danks.
  • Some officials believe the Yankees would like to find a right-handed hitting platoon partner to pair with Ichiro in Suzuki in right field. New York wants an option that doesn’t have commitments beyond 2014, making names like Justin Ruggiano of the Cubs and Chris Denorfia of the Padres as possible targets. Earlier today it was reported that Denorfia could be moved soon.
  • The Royals have decided that Alex Rios isn’t a good fit for their right field need. Because the team is unable to take on much additional salary (if any), they could wait until August to add a bat.
  • While Troy Tulowitzki‘s name has had a lot of buzz around it, club officials from interested teams tell Stark there’s no indication he is available. Rather, the Rockies are open to moving bullpen arms Adam Ottavino, Rex Brothers, LaTroy Hawkins and Matt Belisle. However, the team would only move Hawkins if they’re overwhelmed. That seems a bit odd, given his age, but Hawkins does have a cheap club option and has drawn praise in Denver for his mentoring of younger talent.
  • The D’Backs are telling clubs that they’d move Addison Reed, but they don’t want to move Brad Ziegler. Arizona is also willing to move Aaron Hill and Oliver Perez. They’ll listen on Martin Prado and Josh Collmenter, although they’re more hesitant to deal them.
  • The chances of Cliff Lee being traded before August are almost nonexistent. Scouts who have seen him don’t think he looks close to healthy, and the money he’s owed is of course problematic.

Nationals Notes: Astros, Hill, Prado, Iglesias

It’s difficult to tell whether the Nationals could be very busy or stand pat before the trade deadine, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes.  It seems like the Nats are at least exploring a number of options, as Kilgore reports…

  • The Nationals have asked the Astros about available relievers, and Houston had scouts watching the Nats’ Triple-A and Class A affiliates over the weekend.  Left-hander Tony Sipp best fits the Nationals’ needs, Kilgore surmises, since Washington is thin on southpaw relief options.
  • The Nationals haven’t talked to the Diamondbacks about Aaron Hill or Martin Prado.  Either player could fill the hole at second base created by Ryan Zimmerman‘s injury (Anthony Rendon moved to third), or Prado could simply play third and Rendon could return to second.  Kilgore isn’t sure the Nats want to pay Hill the $26MM he’s owed through 2016, however, though Hill loved playing for manager Matt Williams when Williams was a D’Backs coach.  Arizona is reportedly shopping Hill but “barely listening” to inquiries about Prado.
  • With Jose Iglesias possibly on the trade block in Detroit, Kilgore thinks the Nats could be interested given the team’s desire to add a young shortstop as depth if Ian Desmond can’t be extended.  The Tigers had a scout watching the Nationals’ Class A team recently, Kilgore notes, though that isn’t necessarily related to Iglesias.
  • Speaking of scouting assignments, the Rangers had an evaluator watching a recent game between the Nationals’ and Braves’ Triple-A teams.  The two NL East rivals are both known to be looking for relief pitching.
  • Washington had scouts watching two recent Red Sox series, and Kilgore figures that they were checking out relievers Koji Uehara and Andrew Miller.  Earlier today, Peter Gammons reported that the Nats were interested in Miller.

D’backs Shopping Aaron Hill, Barely Listening On Martin Prado

While the Diamondbacks are interested in moving second baseman Aaron Hill, they have indicated a lack of motivation in dealing jack-of-all-trades Martin Pradoreports CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman. According to Heyman, the club is “barely listening” to inquiries on the latter.

Both players are owed approximately the same amount in future guarantees: $28MM for Hill and $26MM for Prado, both through 2016. And both have scuffled at the plate, with Hill slashing .251/.285/.381 and Prado checking in with a .274/.319/.369 line. But the club appears to view Prado, who is two years younger and a more flexible option in the field, as a part of the team’s core moving forward.



NL West Notes: Crawford, Dodgers, Zobrist, D’Backs

We took a look at the Rockies earlier today. Now, let’s check in on the rest of the NL West, which could be shaping up to be a busy division at the deadline:

  • The Dodgers plan to utilize outfielder Carl Crawford off of the bench when he is activated from the DL, reports Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times. For the time being, then, the club seems to have resolved its long-running logjam. “Carl happened to be the one who got hurt,” explained manager Don Mattingly, who said that Crawford is primarily a left-fielder, but that the position was now occupied by Matt Kemp. As Shaikin notes, Crawford still has $69MM remaining on his deal, including the rest of ths season and his annual payments through 2017, and could potentially be shopped in some kind of large contract swap.
  • Meanwhile, the Dodgers would be interested if the Red Sox make their relievers available, tweets Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. He lists Koji Uehara, Andrew Miller, Burke Badenhop, and Craig Breslow as players who Boston could conceivably listen on, as the first three are set to become free agents while Breslow had a $4MM club option with a $100K buyout.
  • The Giants may have interest in Rays infielder/outfielder Ben Zobrist, according to a report from Chris Haft and Ryan Hood of MLB.com. The Giants have sent special assignment scout to Pat Burrell to Tropicana Field recently, and the duo adds that the Rays are believed to have scouted San Francisco’s Double-A affiliate extensively.
  • The Diamondbacks entered this season with a $110MM payroll and are believed to be targeting the same number for next season, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The problem, however, is that the current roster projects to come in around that amount due to arbitration raises and escalating salaries on current long-term deals. As such, the team figures to make trades to shed payroll in the coming weeks. Martin Prado and Aaron Hill are listed by Piecoro as candidates to be dealt.

Steve Adams contributed to this post.


Blue Jays Scouting Aaron Hill, Martin Prado

JULY 5: The Blue Jays appear to favor Prado over Hill because of the former’s positional flexibility (starts at every infield spot plus left field since 2012), tweets Jon Morosi of FOX Sports.

JULY 4: The Blue Jays are “heavily scouting” Diamondbacks infielders Aaron Hill and Martin Prado, as well as Padres third baseman Chase Headley, ESPN’s Jim Bowden reports (Twitter link).  The Jays were known to be interested in Headley, though the two Arizona infielders are new additions to Toronto’s search for help at either second or third base.

The problem with this trio of players, as Bowden observes, is that all three carry large salaries and are in the midst of disappointing seasons.  Headley is owed a little over $5MM for the remainder of the year but is a free agent this winter, whereas Hill and Prado are both under contract through 2016.

Hill is owed approximately $29.3MM over the remaining 2.5 years of his deal and is hitting just .248/.285/.368 with six homers through 337 plate appearances this year.  The last time Hill hit that poorly was during the 2010-11 seasons when he was, ironically, playing for the Jays.  After being dealt to the D’Backs in August 2011, Hill regained his stroke and posted an .860 OPS over 1030 PA in 2012-13.

Prado, meanwhile, is hitting only .268/.313/.360 with three home runs over 351 PA.  He has played mostly at his preferred third base spot this year, though he also has a lot of experience as a left fielder or second baseman.  Prado is owed around $27.3MM through the 2016 season.

Toronto is known to be looking for help at either second or third base, with the idea that Brett Lawrie (when he returns from the DL) will man the other position.  Given Lawrie’s fielding ability at third, Hill would seem like the more natural fit since Prado is much better defensively at third (career 4.4 UZR/150) than at second (-7.9 UZR/150).  It’s possible the Jays might also prefer Hill due to his familiarity with playing on the Rogers Centre turf, though that’s just my speculation.

Edward Creech contributed to this post.


Diamondbacks Notes: Goldschmidt, Hill, Prado

Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers revealed this weekend that he approached first baseman Paul Goldschmidt about the possibility of signing a long-term extension. MLB.com’s Steve Gilbert has more on Goldschmidt plus notes on some players who recently signed deals of their own…

  • Though the Diamondbacks were interested in locking Goldschmidt up, they will honor his request to wait before engaging in serious contract talks. "We tried, but he was just confident in his ability at the time and said, 'You know, I'm not looking for security right now and need a little bit more time just to kind of have a better idea with another year of play who my peer group looks more like,'" Towers said. 
  • Earlier on in their history the Diamondbacks signed many players to deals that included deferred salaries. The team has now paid off most of that $250MM commitment, which has led to increased financial flexibility.
  • Arizona managing general partner Ken Kendrick explained that the upcoming national television deal should allow teams such as the Diamondbacks to spend more aggressively and retain their top players. "Our view with some of our key players is we can invest in multiple year deals in advance of the wave of money, where all clubs will begin to perhaps spend more on free agents or on their own players,” Kendrick said.
  • Kendrick said he’s not concerned that Martin Prado and Aaron Hill might decline over the course of their recently-completed contract extensions. "If these guys continue to play at the level that they have played, which we hope they will, then I think we will look at all these signings, hopefully all these signings, as good investments," Kendrick said.

Diamondbacks To Extend Aaron Hill

The Diamondbacks officially announced that they've extended second baseman Aaron Hill through 2016. The deal is valued at $35MM, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney, who first reported the agreement (on Twitter). The Legacy Agency represents Hill.

Aaron Hill - Diamondbacks (PW)

The Diamondbacks initially extended Hill in 2011, signing him to a two-year, $11MM contract covering the 2012-13 seasons. That contract calls for a $5.5MM salary in 2013 and won't be affected by today's deal. The new agreement covers the 2014-16 seasons. Hill will earn $11MM in 2014, $12MM in 2015 and $12MM in 2016, according to Jack Magruder of FOXSportsArizona.com (on Twitter).

The Diamondbacks acquired Hill from Toronto late in the summer of 2011. The second baseman hit well after joining the Diamondbacks and he continued producing throughout the 2012 season. Hill hit .302/.360/.522 with 26 home runs in 668 plate appearances last year, leading all National League second basemen with 6.2 wins above replacement (per FanGraphs).

This marks the fourth extension Kevin Towers & Co. have completed in 2013. The team signed Martin Prado, another client of the Legacy Agency, to a four-year, $40MM contract. Cliff Pennington (two years, $5MM) and J.J. Putz (one year, $7MM) also obtained new deals, as MLBTR's Extension Tracker shows.

Robinson Cano still projects as the top second baseman — and likely the top position player — available in free agency next offseason. While Cano seems poised for a substantially larger deal than Hill, he does gain some leverage today. Teams no longer have Hill as a free agent alternative.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.


Rosenthal On Lohse, Prado, Porcello, Padres

The latest from Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports

  • Though Brewers owner Mark Attanasio recently said “there’s always a chance” that Kyle Lohse could end up in Milwaukee, Rosenthal suggests the free agent right-hander will likely sign elsewhere. The Brewers are reluctant to surrender the 17th overall selection in the upcoming draft in addition to the corresponding slot money. Lohse, the top starter remaining in free agency, has been linked to draft pick compensation since he turned down the Cardinals’ qualifying offer. 
  • Martin Prado’s bat might seem suited for second base, but Aaron Hill is already established at the position. It won’t be an issue, since the Diamondbacks want to keep both Prado and Hill, according to Rosenthal. Both players are clients of The Legacy Agency.
  • Rick Porcello could benefit from pitching in front of a better infield defense, and he remains a potential trade target given Detroit’s starting pitching depth. However, some teams are concerned about Porcello’s low strikeout rate, struggles against left-handers and $5.1MM salary. If Porcello has a big year, he could obtain a substantial raise through arbitration leading up to the 2014 season.
  • The Padres are likely to pass on Porcello for more affordable starters. Rosenthal suggests San Diego could look to trade for pitchers such as Aaron Harang and Luke Hochevar in Spring Training.

Diamondbacks Interested In Extending Hill

The Diamondbacks have had preliminary discussions about a contract extension for second baseman Aaron Hill, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic reports. CEO Derrick Hall says GM Kevin Towers hopes to begin more substantial talks with Hill’s representatives at Legacy Sports Group.

“We’re interested in trying to come to an agreement with Aaron before the season starts,” Hall said. “We know he wants to be here and we obviously feel the same way and would like for him to be here. So Kevin and his agent will begin to speak very soon.”

Piecoro suggests the sides have yet to discuss contract length or value. Hill will earn $5.5MM in 2013 under his current contract, which was signed months after the Diamondbacks traded for him in August of 2011.

Hill posted a .302/.360/.522 batting line with 26 home runs in 668 plate appearances last year, his first full season in Arizona. Among second basemen only Robinson Cano produced more wins above replacement than Hill in 2012, according to FanGraphs' version of the metric (7.8 for Cano, 6.2 for Hill). Hill rebounded from a 2011 season that saw him post a .246/.299/.356 line in 571 plate appearances for Toronto and Arizona.

In case you missed it, the Diamondbacks recently extended closer J.J. Putz through the 2014 season.


Diamondbacks Notes: Hill, Hall, Schmidt

It was on this day 11 years ago that baseball's first November game ended in heartbreaking fashion for the Diamondbacks, as they lost the fifth game of the 2001 World Series due to closer Byung-Hyun Kim blowing a ninth-inning lead for the second straight game.  The loss to the Yankees put the D'Backs down 3-2 in the Series, but the Snakes recovered to win the last two games (with Luis Gonzalez providing some ninth-inning magic of his own in Game Seven) to capture the franchise's first World Series championship.

Here's the latest from the desert…

  • Aaron Hill would love to discuss signing a long-term extension with the D'Backs, the second baseman tells MLB.com's Steve Gilbert.  Hill has hit .304/.364/.517 in 810 PAs for Arizona since being dealt from the Blue Jays in August 2011 and signed a two-year, $11MM deal with the Snakes that runs through the end of the 2013 season.
  • D'Backs president and CEO Derrick Hall addressed a number of topics in a chat with fans on MLB.com, including how the team is looking to add to the left side of its infield and will be "managing the abundance of players we have" in the outfield.  The D'Backs have already made one major trade involving an outfielder, sending Chris Young to the A's and acquiring Cliff Pennington and Heath Bell.  Hall also discussed the team's international scouting in Japan and the possibility of third base coach Matt Williams leaving to take a managerial job.
  • The Rangers acquired catcher Konrad Schmidt on a waiver claim from the D'Backs, tweets Anthony Andro of FOX Sports Southwest.  Schmidt, 28, appeared in four games for Arizona in 2010 and four more last season, amassing 17 total Major League plate appearances.  The catcher has a .291/.345/.434 line in 2234 career minor league PAs.