Aaron Hill Rumors

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."

Blue Jays President Beeston On Darvish, Lee, Payroll

Blue Jays president Paul Beeston sat down with Richard Griffin of the the Toronto Star to talk about the state of the club, free agents coming north of the border, and even his own contract.  Here are some highlights..

  • Beeston was reluctant to tip his cap on whether or not the Blue Jays will make a run at Yu Darvish, but he did say that "I think those people at Rogers who never heard of him before, now know this player is in existence."  Despite that, he has yet to inform ownership that he is ready to spend extra payroll dollars.
  • Beeston said that he's happy for the ex-Jays that made it to the postseason this year with other clubs.  Ultimately, he says that there's no way of knowing if the Blue Jays would have made it to the playoffs if they still had players such as Roy Halladay, Shaun Marcum, John McDonald, and Aaron Hill in the fold. 
  • When discussing Hill, Beeston said, "I think that [General Manager] Alex [Anthopoulos] had determined that he wanted to make a move with Aaron."  Toronto shipped Hill and McDonald to the Diamondbacks for Kelly Johnson in an August trade.
  • Halladay "made it quite clear" that he was not going to re-sign with the Blue Jays after the 2010 season.
  • The Blue Jays didn't make a serious run at Cliff Lee in free agency last year and Beeston believes that doing so would have been a "waste of time".
  • Even though the senior people at Rogers aren't baseball fans, Beeston still keeps them informed of major decisions.  For example, Beeston discussed the Halladay trade with management before pulling the trigger.   Beeston says that Rogers has yet to interfere with or object to a front office decision.
  • At a fan get-together in February, Beeston said that the club could possibly spend up to $120MM on payroll.  Beeston clarified those comments and says that the $120MM figure is in reference to salaries on the 40-man roster and not including draft bonuses and international free agency. 
  • That uptick in payroll could happen this year or next year.  Beeston plans on adding a big piece at the right time for the right price.  He later added that the team first has to show that they can contend before they can land the premier free agents on the open market.
  • The Blue Jays have built up the farm system and they're reassured of their talent by the amount of inquiries they get from other teams.  The Colby Rasmus trade showed that the club could afford to trade several attractive pieces without mortgaging their future.
  • Rumors of Beeston re-upping his contract through 2015 are not true.  In fact, he says that he hasn't talked to anyone about an extension of his current deal.
  • Beeston said that he sees an opening in the AL East because of the uncertainty in Boston, aging stars in New York, and limited capital in Tampa Bay.
  • Even though attendance in down in Toronto, revenue continues to grow for the organization.  The belief is that the pace will pick up once the team is contending again.

Quick Hits: Brewers, August Winners, Free Agents

Twins minor leaguer Kyle Gibson, the No. 22 overall draft pick in 2009, will undergo Tommy John surgery, per Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com. Best wishes to Gibson on making a full recovery and perhaps debuting in the Majors late in 2012.

Here are a few other items of note on this Thursday afternoon:

  • The Brewers were interested in acquiring lefty reliever Mike Gonzalez from the Orioles before Baltimore dealt him to Texas, writes Adam McCalvy of MLB.com. “We had the irons in the fire,” Milwaukee GM Doug Melvin said. The Brew Crew remains without a southpaw in their bullpen.
  • The Diamondbacks were among the five winners of August's post-deadline trade period, opines Jon Paul Morosi of FOXSports.com. Arizona shored up its infield by acquiring infielders John McDonald and Aaron Hill from Toronto in exchange for Kelly Johnson. Morosi's other winners: The Rangers, Tigers, Braves and Indians.
  • Impending free agents, however established they may be, should still be scouted dilligently, writes Jim Bowden of ESPN.com (Insider subscription required). For example, though some of us may take it for granted that Albert Pujols' fractured wrist is fully healed, scouts from interested teams will be watching all of his final at-bats for even the slightest change in his swing or approach. After all, Bowden explains, with tens, and sometimes hundreds, of millions of dollars at stake, every bit of info helps.

D’Backs Wanted Defense, Infield Depth

Talk of draft pick compensation, club options and future salaries is valid after any trade, including the one the Diamondbacks just made with the Blue Jays. But the D’Backs didn’t make this move with an eye on future seasons or drafts. 

Kelly Johnson

“This deal was really made with a focus on ‘how do we get better for the next five weeks and stay ahead of the Giants’,” GM Kevin Towers explained this evening on a conference call with reporters.

Ever since Stephen Drew’s season ended, the D’Backs have been short-handed up the middle. They wanted to rely on Willie Bloomquist less, so Towers and the Blue Jays discussed Aaron Hill, someone the D’Backs have been eyeing for a while. The second baseman isn’t having much of a season at the plate, but Towers says his power could return against National League pitching. 

“We’re hoping that a change of scenery can not only spark our club, but spark these two guys,” Towers said, referring to Hill and John McDonald

Even if Chase Field doesn’t coax extra base power out of Hill, who has a 36-homer season to his name, Towers won’t mind. The deal, which included the versatile McDonald, was about defense. Though Towers didn't express disappointment in Kelly Johnson’s defense, he did say he's looking forward to adding the pair of former Blue Jays to his infield.

Hill has two $8MM team options for 2012-13, yet they aren't a major consideration for the D'Backs at this point at this point. It was “doubtful” that Johnson (pictured) would have returned after 2012, according to Towers, so the D’Backs were willing to part with him for Hill, regardless of whether Hill returns to Arizona in 2012. 

That Hill and McDonald strike out less than Johnson (132 Ks this year) is a bonus for Towers, who has been looking to reduce Arizona’s strikeout totals since last year. Plus, they’re two “great guys” who drew personal praise from Diamondbacks people and others in baseball. 

For the two nice guys to finish first, the D’Backs will have to maintain their current one-game lead over the defending World Champion Giants. Arizona could even obtain more help this month, since Towers may not be done dealing yet. 

“We’ll keep working the phone lines until the end,” he said.

Photo courtesy Icon SMI.