Aaron Hill Rumors

Blue Jays Have Not Approached Hill About Options

Aaron Hill told Richard Griffin of the Toronto Star that the Blue Jays have not approached him about the options they have for his 2012-14 seasons (Twitter link). The Blue Jays can exercise all three options before the season for $26MM total, exercise the 2012-13 options after the season for $16MM total or decline the options and allow Hill to hit free agency next fall.

As Griffin points out, it does not appear that the Blue Jays will exercise the three options before the season, which means Hill will either become a free agent after the season or see the Blue Jays exercise his 2012-13 options for $16MM total.

No qualified hitter in baseball had a lower batting average on balls in play than Hill last year, an indication that the second baseman was unlucky. Hill, who turned 29 last week, finished the 2010 season with 26 homers and an unusual .205/.271/.394 batting line.


Anthopoulos Talks Hill, Encarnacion, Wells, Arencibia

Alex Anthopoulos says he has has 'tinkered' and 'talked' about acquiring a third baseman and won't rule out potential acquisitions. But the Blue Jays GM remains confident in Jose Bautista's ability to play the position all season long. The defending AL home run champ played 48 games at third last year and spent 225 games at the hot corner for the Pirates from 2007-08, so the Blue Jays say they're set at third.

Last year's third baseman, Edwin Encarnacion, will combine with Adam Lind to play first base and DH. The Blue Jays are hopeful that Lind can handle first defensively and they're optimistic about Encarnacion's power potential. Anthopoulos says he thinks Encarnacion has "one more gear in there" and while he hesitated before comparing him to Bautista, the GM says he can see Encarnacion hitting 30 homers or more in 2011.

The Blue Jays are also looking for a bounceback season from Aaron Hill, and they have a decision to make before the season starts. The team can either exercise Hill's 2012-14 options before the coming season begins or they can wait until the offseason, at which point they'll be able to exercise his 2012-13 options or just his 2012 option. Anthopoulos declined to elaborate on the team's plan, but did emphasize that the sides aren't bound to Hill's current deal.

“There’s a lot of flexibility,” Anthopoulos told a crowd of about 500 Blue Jays fans at last night's State of the Franchise event. “We’re not tied into anything. There’s nothing that prevents us from sitting down with Aaron and his agent and saying we want to do a five-year deal, four-year deal, six-year deal.”

Anthopoulos also discussed one multiyear deal that has become the responsibility of another organization. He declined to confirm reports that the Blue Jays are sending $5MM to the Angels as part of the Vernon Wells trade. 

"The deal that was announced [Wells straight up for Mike Napoli and Juan Rivera] was the deal that was agreed to," he said.

The Blue Jays have money to spend now that they've unloaded most or all of Wells' deal and they remain open to making acquisitions. Anthopoulos, a Montreal native and former Expos employee, says he can relate to fans who want a bona fide slugger like Vladimir Guerrero.

"I understand," Anthopoulos said. "He was one of my favorite players growing up and he's someone that I admire." 

However, Anthopoulos exaplined that he doesn't want to acquire players who get playing time in place of developing players. For example, the Blue Jays intend to provide their top catching prospect with the chance to show major league pitchers why he won the Pacific Coast League MVP last year.

“We really don’t want to get in the way of J.P. Arencibia because we do believe that he’s an important component of this team” Anthopoulos said. “He has nothing more to prove down [in the minors]. He needs to get an opportunity to play up here and we might have to let him live through some struggles early on.”

If the Blue Jays don't spend on free agents or through trades, they say they'll have more to spend on player development, the amateur draft and international free agency. Amateur spending will not end the Blue Jays' 17-year playoff drought immediately, but it's promising news for fans of a team that has seven of the first 78 selections in the upcoming June draft.


Blue Jays Notes: Overbay, Encarnacion, Bautista

Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos met with reporters for an extended media session today, speaking about a wide range of topics. MLB.com's Jordan Bastian brings us the highlights…

  • Anthopoulos acknowledged Lyle Overbay's strong finish to the season, but the team's approach for first base is unchanged. They will explore trades and the free agent market with no guarantee that Overbay will return. 
  • Aaron Hill offered to change positions (third base) if it will help the team. The Jays have until Opening Day of next season to make a decision on the 2012 ($8MM), 2013 ($8MM), and 2014 ($10MM) options in Hill's contract. If they wait until after next season, the 2014 option is voided.
  • There is a chance that Edwin Encarnacion will be non-tendered given the raise he's likely to receive through arbitration. Encarnacion earned $4.75MM in 2010 and will be arb eligible for the final time before free agency.
  • The Jays are prepared to go to arbitration with 54 HR man Jose Bautista. He earned $2.4MM this year and his salary is likely to jump into the $7-9MM range after his monster season. Bastian doesn't think the two sides will work out a long-term deal this winter.
  • Fred Lewis was unhappy when his playing time diminished late in the season. If he's not in the team's plans as a bench player next year, a non-tender could be in order.
  • Even with Kevin Gregg, Scott Downs, and Jason Frasor all eligible to become free agents in a few weeks, Anthopoulos doesn't consider having veterans in the bullpen a top priority.
  • He'd like to add more balance to a lineup that relied primarily on the long ball this season. The Jays led MLB by a large margin with 257 homers, but they finished just ninth with 755 runs scored because of a pedestrian .312 OBP.
  • The possibility of keeping catcher John Buck will be explored, but Anthopoulos said he's earned a long-term deal and a starting job, something that might not work with top prospect J.P. Arencibia having nothing left to prove in the minors.
  • The Blue Jays are not operating with a specific payroll; the GM has the ability to adjust the finances as he sees fit. That gives them more flexibility when looking at free agent and trade scenarios.
  • There are no more front office hirings in the immediate future, but one thing they're considering is someone with more of a computer and statistical analysis background. 
  • Shi Davidi of The Canadian Press adds that Anthopoulos acknowledged the inherent riskiness of trades, but he still considers it the best way to improve the team and is willing to deal prospects for established big leaguers (Twitter links). 


Odds & Ends: Webb, Pirates, Ozzie, Pena, Mets, Lopez

Some links to check out after the Rangers clinched their first AL West title since 1999…


Odds & Ends: Hill, Sampson, Butler, Lewis

On this day in 1977, Sadaharu Oh hit his 756th career home run, passing Hank Aaron for the (known) all-time professional record.  It's just the 'known' record since we don't know for sure how many homers Josh Gibson hit in the Negro Leagues.  Oh finished his Japanese career with a whopping 868 long balls. 

Some news items…

  • Andrew Stoeten of the Drunk Jays Fans blog and The Toronto Sun's Bob Elliott both recently outlined the Blue Jays' upcoming decision about Aaron Hill's 2012-14 club option years.  If the Jays decline to exercise all three options at once by next Opening Day, Hill can no longer be retained by the team on his $10MM club option for 2014.  It's very likely that Toronto will pass on the three-years-at-once option and then look at Hill's $8MM options for 2012 and 2013 after next season.  In short, Hill's lackluster play this year has cost him $10MM thus far.
  • Chris Sampson has accepted his minor league assignment from the Astros and will report to Triple-A Round Rock, tweets Alyson Footer of MLB.com.  Sampson could've opted for free agency, but will instead finish the season in Houston's system and pursue free agency in the offseason.
  • If Eric Hosmer continues to develop, ESPN.com's Jason A. Churchill suggests that Kansas City might trade Billy Butler to avoid paying him a significant contract.  Butler is a first-time arbitration candidate this offseason and could make 10 times his current $470K salary in 2011.
  • Cleveland manager Manny Acta says that Jensen Lewis' future with the Tribe may depend on how he looks in relief outings this September, writes Paul Hoynes of the Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Lewis will reach arbitration for the first time this winter and is out of options, so he's a possible non-tender candidate.
  • In a reader chat, Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News gave his opinion on such Rangers hot stove topics as Cliff Lee's future with the club and whom the Rangers might target in free agency this winter.
  • Brandon Boggs has cleared waivers and been assigned to Texas' Triple-A affiliate, reports MLB.com's Alden Gonzalez.  Boggs was designated for assignment on Tuesday.
  • Eric Chavez "is not ready to announce [his] retirement," tweets MLB.com's Jane Lee, but would consider a post-playing career of coaching or broadcasting (also from Twitter).
  • Blogger El Lefty Malo looks at how the Giants have gotten better at acquiring "band-aid" veterans.
  • Diamondbacks president Derrick Hall tells FOXSportsArizona.com's Jack Magruder that money will not be a factor in hiring the team's new general manager, but admits "I'd be lying if I said it wasn't an issue."
  • Alex Rodriguez's recent split with agent Scott Boras may have been influenced by advisers from the entertainment business and Rodriguez's "infatuation with Hollywood stardom," reports ESPNNewYork.com's Wallace Matthews.  Somewhere, Ari Gold is yelling at Lloyd to place a call on his behalf…

Olney On Lee, Carmona, Rockies, Torre

In his newest blog post at ESPN.com (Insider-only link), Buster Olney tells the story of a phone call Michael Young made to Rangers GM Jon Daniels last summer. Just before the trade deadline, Young dialed up Daniels to tell him the players were happy with the young talent on the roster, suggesting that giving up the farm for someone like Roy Halladay wasn't necessary.

"Do what you have to do," Young told Daniels. "But don't do something just to appease us down here."

Here are Olney's other hot stove notes:

  • The Mariners have yet to shop Cliff Lee, but will soon make a decision about his availability (Twitter link).
  • The Mets are interested in Fausto Carmona, who is under contract beyond this year, unlike many of the oft-mentioned pitchers on the trade market. Olney warns that the "Oliver Perez factor" is in play, meaning that if the Mets acquired Carmona, it's unclear how he'd adjust to pitching in baseball's biggest market.
  • A hitter like Aaron Hill or Dan Uggla would fit very nicely in Colorado right now, though neither the Blue Jays or Marlins have indicated yet that they're willing to sell. Olney figures that the Rockies will try to avoid making a trade, moving forward with their current roster until Troy Tulowitzki returns.
  • As we heard earlier in the week from SI.com's Jon Heyman, Joe Torre appears unlikely to manage the Dodgers next season. "There are a couple of folks in power who are ready to turn the managerial page," according to Olney.

Blue Jays Claim Hoffpauir From Cardinals

The Toronto Blue Jays claimed infielder Jarrett Hoffpauir off of waivers from the St. Louis Cardinals. Left-handed pitcher Bill Murphy was designated for assignment to make room on the 40-man roster for Hoffpauir.

Hoffpauir, 26, is an intriguing pickup. He posted a .291/.357/.486 batting line in 402 plate appearances for Triple-A Memphis, and also held his own in 16 plate appearances with St. Louis. In other words, he's right around the same part of his career Marco Scutaro was when Oakland gave him a chance to play every day.

One wonders if this is a sign that Toronto doesn't plan to bring Scutaro back. For what it's worth, Hoffpauir has played 10 games at shortstop in the minor leagues, while Aaron Hill, Toronto's second baseman, came through the minor leagues as a shortstop.

Murphy, 28, had posted a 7.59 ERA in Triple-A, so this move can't be considered much of a surprise.


Blue Jays Sign Alex Rios, Aaron Hill

Surprise move by the Jays today – they inked second baseman Aaron Hill to a four-year, $12MM deal with club options for three years after that.  The deal begins with the ’08 season and then covers his three arb years.  Orlando Hudson, a decent comparable, got about $12.8MM for a similar slice of his career.  Sounds fair, and the options are a nice bonus for the Jays. 

The Jays also completed Alex Rios‘ six-year, $64MM deal.  This is another fine contract for Toronto, as they get four of Rios’ free agent years at a below-market price.  The Jays have a seventh year option for Rios at $13.5MM, with a $1MM buyout attached.  The contract includes a complete no-trade clause for the first two years and a partial thereafter.


Odds and Ends: Alfonzo, Hill, Kline, Reitsma

Time for a link roundup.


No Multiyear Deal For Aaron Hill

From Buster Olney’s blog this morning:

The Blue Jays attempted to sign second baseman Aaron Hill to a multiyear deal but could not reach an agreement.

Hill, 26, broke out last year with a .291/.333/.459 line.  He could be even better this season, with a shot at 20 home runs.  His defense is among the best in the game at second base.

Hill will reach arbitration for the first time after this season.  Orlando Hudson might be a solid comparable.  Hudson made $2.3MM, $3.9MM, and $6.25MM in his arbitration years.