The Arizona Diamondbacks have floated around the .500 mark over the past three months, but due in large part to major injuries to key players and a lackluster start to the season, the team finds themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoff picture. At 46-60 and 13 games back of the division leading Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks will surely not be buyers before the trade deadline, which could signal the end of starting second baseman and fan favorite, Aaron Hill. However, due to Hill’s contract, the teams willing to trade for the second baseman has been reduced to a very select few.
Playing for the Diamondbacks this season, Hill has put up the third-lowest batting average of his career with a .256. However, following a June where he had an abysmal .237 batting average (BA), July has seen quite the turnaround. In the 19 games played in July, Hill has averaged a .288 to go along with a .452 slugging percentage. In eight games since the All-Star break, the former All-Star second-baseman has been tearing the cover off of the ball, averaging a .419 BA while slugging an amazing .622 with five doubles and a homerun.
The need for a power-hitting second baseman, especially for teams in the hunt for the playoffs, is not one to be taken lightly as the list of potential teams needing middle infielders is not a very short one. However, teams willing to spend the kind of money needed to acquire someone like Aaron Hill could seriously limit the D-Backs options. For example, teams like the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals will surely be buyers before the trade deadline and both could use a power-hitting second baseman like Aaron Hill. However, the O’s will be more focused on spending money for a big name starting pitcher and the Nat’s, although ex-Diamondbacks coach Matt Williams is calling the shots now, would appear to not want to spend the additional $26 million due to Hill through 2016.
If there is any realistic option in a team trading for Aaron Hill, it could come in the form of making a deal with just roughly three teams: the Cincinnati Reds, Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees.
The matchup right now between the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cincinnati Reds could prove to be somewhat of a potential trade scouting report for Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty. Since July 10th, the Cincinnati Reds have seen their offense take a complete nose dive, due to injuries to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips. The resurging bat of Aaron Hill could lift the recently plummeting Reds back into contention, but with Brandon Phillips under contract until 2018 and back-up Skip Schumaker under contract until 2017, unless the team plans on moving Hill to shortstop in the future, the deal would seem unlikely.
The Toronto Blue Jays are in desperate need of a starting second baseman, which could signal the return of Aaron Hill to Canada. Playing for the Blue Jays from 2005-2011, Hill averaged a .265 at the plate and had an All-Star year playing for the team in 2009. Current starting second baseman Ryan Goins is batting a whopping .185 in 31 games played and their other second/third baseman, Kawasaki, is roving positions due to injuries, so even if Hill stayed at his current .256 average, the upgrade could certainly be worth it. However, like many other teams, Toronto may not want to spend the kind of money Aaron Hill would be owed, especially with middle infielders/utility players like Daniel Murphy (NYM) and Ben Zobrist (TB) still being available in trade talks.
The New York Yankees are currently four games behind the AL-East leading Baltimore Orioles and, like every year around the trade deadline, they will surely be buyers. Aaron Hill is a viable option for the Yankees for several reasons: they could be the only team willing to spend the kind of money on a player like Hill and their 36-year-old second baseman Brian Roberts is batting .239 and will also no longer be under contract next season. Hill is a major upgrade for the New York Yankees and with Derek Jeter also retiring at year’s end, GM Brian Cashman could sure up at least one middle infielder for at least a few more years.
One of the biggest problems with the D-Backs attempting to move Aaron Hill is his contract status. There are teams out there that could certainly use a power-hitting middle infielder, but whether or not those teams are willing to pay $11 million per year until 2017 is another story. The New York Yankees have never been shy about spending the money to get a player they feel could help them win and given their current situation, Hill could be their best option. The list of potential buyers certainly appears to be dwindling, but if the Arizona Diamondbacks can find a way to work out a deal with the New York Yankees, which they already have done before in getting rid of Brandon McCarthy and his contract, the team could really open themselves up for future- and affordable – options this upcoming offseason.
Commentary by Ryne Vyles
Guardian Liberty Voice Sports Writer Covering the Arizona Diamondbacks