The Diamondbacks are attempting to trade veteran infielder Aaron Hill, Jon Heyman tweets. Earlier this week, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported that the Diamondbacks were looking to trade a second baseman, potentially clearing space for the team to sign free agent Howie Kendrick. The D-backs have other second basemen who might be more attractive in a trade, like Chris Owings and Brandon Drury, but it appears Hill is the one they’re looking to deal.
Of course, as Heyman points out, trading Hill won’t be easy. For one thing, the middle infield market is still relatively robust, with Kendrick, Ian Desmond, Jimmy Rollins and others still available. Also, Hill is owed $12MM in 2016 and is coming off two straight poor seasons at the plate. He batted .230/.295/.345 in 2015, a line that was bad but not markedly worse than his 2014 performance. And while defensive metrics once marked him as a plus second baseman, they’ve downgraded him to average or slightly below average in recent seasons.
Hill would appear, then, to have no trade value due to his age (33), performance and salary. The Diamondbacks and Reds previously discussed a trade involving Hill and Brandon Phillips. That deal didn’t work out, but it fits the basic form a Hill trade would likely take — the D-backs would likely have to take on another expensive player in return, or at least pay much of Hill’s remaining salary. Of course, if their ultimate goal were to sign Kendrick (which is unclear, since Kendrick declined a qualifying offer and Arizona has previously expressed a strong desire to keep their top remaining draft pick), the Diamondbacks might instead seek a high-salaried veteran who played a position outside the middle infield.
Of course, the Diamondbacks could clear roster space and avoid the headache of trying to trade Hill’s contract by dealing Owings, but Owings plays a decent defensive shortstop and would therefore be more useful in a utility role if the Diamondbacks were to sign Kendrick or another infielder. Hill has not played shortstop since 2006 and spent last season at second base and third, so his tactical value to the Diamondbacks is limited, particularly given that they already have a variety of infield options.