Aaron Hill Rumors

Dodgers Links: Sale, Offseason, Infielders, Rivera

On this day in 1988, Los Angeles right-hander Orel Hershiser won the NL Cy Young Award by a unanimous vote after going 23-8 with a 2.31 ERA. Here are a few items of note regarding the Dodgers …

  • Tom Golisano, the former owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres, is preparing a bid to purchase the Dodgers, according to Craig Karmin and Matthew Futterman of the Wall Street Journal. Golisano is "one of the first to declare an interest in buying the franchise who actually has the money to pull off the transaction," according to the report.
  • Outgoing owner Frank McCourt hasn't told GM Ned Colletti not to spend on free agents — even ones of Prince Fielder's caliber — this offseason, a source tells Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times.
  • The Dodgers are "aggressively pursuing" infielders and are also interested in acquiring a catcher and starting pitchers, Major League sources tell Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com. Los Angeles is targeting Clint Barmes, Aaron Hill and Mark Ellis to play second base and/or a utility position.
  • Juan Rivera's new contract with the Dodgers could be worth as much as $9MM over the next two seasons, according to Hernandez. The outfielder is guaranteed $4MM in 2012, with a $4MM option or $500K buyout for 2013, and he can earn as much as $500K in each of the next two seasons depending on his number of at-bats.

D’Backs Remain Interested In Aaron Hill

The Diamondbacks have already signed two infielders, but they remain interested in free agent second baseman Aaron Hill, according to Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports. The presence of utility players John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist won’t prevent GM Kevin Towers from adding Hill and adjusting the roster accordingly.

If Arizona re-signs Hill and Stephen Drew’s fractured ankle heals by Opening Day, Bloomquist could become the team’s fourth outfielder. If Hill signs elsewhere, Ryan Roberts would likely play second and the Diamondbacks would pursue a third baseman, according to Rosenthal.

The Diamondbacks may pursue starting pitching and Hiroki Kuroda is a likely target, according to Rosenthal. It’s hard to get a read on Kuroda’s 2012 plans, but he has drawn interest from Japanese teams and MLB teams. For more on the Diamondbacks, check out Tim Dierkes’ offseason outlook.


Rockies Interested In Millwood, Harden, Chen

The Rockies have expressed interest in free agent starters Kevin Millwood, Rich Harden, and Bruce Chen, according to Troy E. Renck of the Denver Post.  They'll also be exploring the trade market.

Millwood, 37 in December, finished the season with Colorado, making nine starts with a 3.98 ERA.  The Scott Boras client seeks a Major League deal, which Renck says makes this a "slow-developing situation."  Renck notes that the Rockies were among the finalists to sign Harden last year, though they viewed him as a reliever.

As for their second base opening, the Rockies have had internal conversations about free agent Aaron Hill, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.  Hill is also of interest to the Tigers, writes Lynn Henning of the Detroit News.  The Rockies also have interest in Jamey Carroll, Mark Ellis, and others, reported Renck previously.

For more on the Rockies' needs and finances, check out my offseason outlook.



West Notes: Hill, Bell, Bourjos, Dodgers

We've checked in on the Giants, who made a major trade today. Here are some notes from the other teams in baseball's western divisions…

  • The Diamondbacks have an offer out to Aaron Hill, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic (on Twitter). The club’s proposal comes with a deadline and team officials expect Hill to wait as long as possible before deciding whether to accept the deal.
  • Free agent reliever Heath Bell told Jim Bowden of Sirius XM Radio that he’d prefer to sign with the Padres, Angels or Dodgers (Twitter link). Bell says he’d also like to play for the Red Sox or Phillies.
  • Dave Cameron of FanGraphs argues that the Angels should keep Peter Bourjos instead of trading him. Viewing Bourjos and Mike Trout as players who are getting in each other’s way would be a mistake, Cameron explains.
  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt may ask the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for permission to sell the team's TV rights, according to Bill Shaikin of the LA Times. This would violate his sale agreement with MLB, however.
  • The Rangers aren't likely to bring free agent Brandon Webb back and may explore potential trades involving Yorvit Torrealba, according to MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan.
  • A's GM Billy Beane and Moneyball author Michael Lewis discussed the inception of the best-selling book with Todd Watson of InternetEvolution.com.

NL West Notes: Dodgers, Cook, Bell, Hill

The Dodgers are nearing a deal with Juan Rivera and have drawn interest from a high-profile potential buyer. Here are more notes from the division…

  • Dodgers owner Frank McCourt will get at least $1 billion if he agrees to sell the team, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com (on Twitter). Dodger Stadium and its surrounding parking lots will likely be included in any sale. 
  • Aaron Cook can see himself returning to Colorado under the right circumstances and Rockies GM Dan O'Dowd has some interest in bringing the right-hander back, according to Jim Armstrong of the Denver Post. The Rockies declined an $11MM option for Cook yesterday, paying a $500K buyout instead. 
  • Padres GM Josh Byrnes told reporters, including Tom Krasovic of MLB.com, that he'll be happy if Heath Bell accepts arbitration and prepared in case the Type A reliever declines.
  • The Diamondbacks value Aaron Hill at about $4MM, according to ESPN.com's Buster Olney (on Twitter). They had an $8MM option for the second baseman before declining it yesterday.

D’Backs Announce Option Decisions

The D'Backs announced that they exercised their sides of the mutual options for Henry Blanco and Willie Bloomquist, while declining their team options for Zach Duke and Aaron Hill (Twitter link). However, Bloomquist has declined his side of the mutual option and would like to work out a longer deal, according to MLB.com's Steve Gilbert (on Twitter).

Blanco's option is worth $1.15MM and includes a $250K buyout. It's not yet clear whether he'll return to Arizona for a second season. In 112 plate appearances in 2011, the 14-year veteran posted a .250/.330/.540 line with eight home runs. Bloomquist's option was worth $1.1MM. The 33-year-old played left field, shortstop and second base in 2011, while posting a .266/.317/.340 battling line in 381 plate appearances.

Hill posted an .878 OPS with the D'Backs after struggling in Toronto for a combined season line of .246/.299/.356. Though the D'Backs would like him back, his $8MM option was too much for GM Kevin Towers' liking. Hill's contract also included an $8MM team option for 2013. Duke posted a 4.93 ERA with 3.8 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 76 2/3 innings, so there was no doubt that the team would decline its $5.5MM club option in favor of the $750K buyout.


West Notes: Matsui, Angels, Gibson, D’Backs

Here are a handful of interesting notes from around baseball's West divisions:

  • The Athletics' interest in re-signing impending free agent DH Hideki Matsui is waning, according to Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle. Oakland wants to get younger, according to Slusser, and Matsui, now 37, doesn't fit that bill. A return isn't entirely impossible, though, and A's GM Billy Beane will meet with Matsui's agent, Arn Tellem of Wasserman Media Group, next week.
  • Angels owner Arte Moreno said that the Halos' 2012 payroll will be in the $130-140MM range, according to Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times (Twitter link), which would prevent them from pursuing any expensive free agents. In the Angels' installment of MLBTR's Offseason Outlook series, Ben Nicholson-Smith calculated that the Angels will have about $120MM on the books before accounting for players making the league minimum, so new GM Jerry Dipoto will have about $10-20MM to play with.
  • Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson's 2013 club option vested when the Snakes reached the playoffs this year, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The D'Backs almost certainly would have picked up the option anyway considering Gibson's success in his first full season as skipper, but Arizona's postseason berth assured it. Gibson's coaches have all been extended through 2013, as well.
  • D'Backs GM Kevin Towers will focus on position players this offseason rather than pitchers, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com, with second base being a key spot of interest. It's been expected that Aaron Hill's $8MM 2012 club option will be declined, though Arizona would like to re-sign him, according to Gilbert.
  • Towers doesn't expect to find a new vice president of scouting and player development, the position vacated by Dipoto, according to Piecoro. As well, Towers and Dipoto will hash out which executives the latter will be allowed to bring to Anaheim, with director of international scouting Carlos Gomez expected to be a person of interest in those talks. "That'd be a tough one," Towers said. "He's good. International guys are hard to find, especially young guys. He is under contract. I plan on offering him even a second year."

NL West Notes: Hill, Kuo, Ross

It's been a busy day in the NL West. The Padres announced a leadership change and the Dodgers' bankruptcy trial was delayed. Here's more news from the division…

  • Aaron Hill has switched agents and is now a client of Greg Genske of Legacy Sports, according to Steve Gilbert of MLB.com. Hill, a former Beverly Hills Sports Council client, could return to the Diamondbacks in 2012 if the team picks up its $8MM option. Though the D’Backs would like Hill back, they’d rather work out a new deal, according to Gilbert. You can keep track of every player’s agent using MLBTR’s Agency Database.
  • Dodgers left-hander Hong-Chih Kuo will undergo arthroscopic surgery on his pitching elbow, according to the team (on Twitter). He would earn about $2.5MM if the Dodgers offer arbitration, which makes him a non-tender candidate. He intends to pitch in 2012, according to Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (on Twitter).
  • Cody Ross told Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle that he has not yet started negotiating a potential deal with the Giants. The free agent outfielder says the sides have mutual interest in a new deal, but Schulman doubts the Giants would match Ross' 2011 salary of $5.3MM (Twitter links).

NL West Links: Hill, Gutierrez, Bell

Some notes from the NL West….

  • Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers spoke with Aaron Hill's agent this week, reports Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic. The two sides made little progress and didn't exchange figures, but Towers said another talk is tentatively scheduled for next week. Hill hit .215/.386/.492 in 142 plate appearances for the Snakes after being dealt from the Blue Jays, but Towers said he isn't necessarily looking at a multi-year deal for Hill since he doesn't "want to get too crazy about six weeks [of production]. There’s a reason they moved him and a reason we moved Kelly Johnson.”
  • Also from Piecoro's piece, the recently-released Juan Gutierrez said he expected the move and hopes to re-sign with the D'Backs on a minor league deal. Gutierrez underwent Tommy John surgery in September.
  • The Padres are willing to give Heath Bell a two-year, $15-$16MM contract with an option for a third year, reports Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune as part of an online chat with fans. Bell wants three years guaranteed, but Center wonders if the closer would accept a two-year deal with a partial no-trade clause. Center discusses several other Padres topics during the chat, including what he would want in a possible Mat Latos trade and Kyle Blanks' future with the team.

Towers On Hill, Bloomquist, Blanco, Saunders, Parra

Diamondbacks GM Kevin Towers spoke to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic yesterday.  Highlights:

  • Towers would like to bring back second baseman Aaron Hill, but not at his option prices of $8MM for each of the 2012 and '13 seasons.  The 29-year-old hit .315/.386/.492 in 142 plate appearances for Arizona, his first stint in the National League.  He's represented by Beverly Hills Sports Council, as our Agency Database shows.
  • Towers is "leaning toward" exercising Willie Bloomquist's $1.1MM mutual option and will "probably" pick up a $1.15MM mutual option on catcher Henry Blanco.  Piecoro expects both players back, so these might be rare cases where both sides exercise their end of mutual options.
  • The GM is undecided on whether to tender a contract to lefty Joe Saunders, depending on whether he thinks the team's young starters are ready.  Saunders is due a raise on this year's $5.5MM salary, which we'll dig into later this week here at MLBTR.  Towers believes the team has the payroll space for both Hill and Saunders, if that's the route he chooses.  I think Saunders will be tendered a contract, since he'd have some trade value.
  • Left fielder Gerardo Parra's possible Super Two status is "too close to call right now," said Towers.  As of August 23rd, a source told me the cutoff appeared to be two years and 145 days of service, which is the exact amount Parra has.
  • Towers seeks a bat to complement first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, and Piecoro thinks that might mean re-signing Lyle Overbay.
  • Towers feels that the Diamondbacks' pitching staff is in "pretty good shape."  The GM doesn't see "big, big" offseason needs, though he won't rule out a run at the "right kind of marquee guy."