The Arizona Diamondbacks already had Geoff Blum, John McDonald and Willie Bloomquist under contract for the upcoming season. With that kind of talent in house, the last thing they needed was another middle infielder, right?
Jokes! None of those players are good, and so on Sunday, the Diamondbacks reached a two-year contract agreement with Aaron Hill. Nick Piecoro broke the news, and according to Jon Heyman, the deal will be worth a total of $11 million once everything's official. Which should be soon.
Hill will serve as the Diamondbacks' regular second baseman, just as he did down the stretch last season. He came over from the Blue Jays in an August trade, and though Arizona declined his $8 million 2012 and 2013 options after the year, they still had interest in bringing him back at a lower price, which is exactly what they've done. And this doesn't come as a huge surprise - there was talk earlier in the weekend that Hill and the Diamondbacks were nearing an agreement.
So here's the thing about Aaron Hill: lately, overall, he hasn't been very good. He's fine defensively, but at the plate, he's really struggled. His last two seasons:
That is bad. Hill seemed to break out with a 36-homer 2009, but he followed that with a nasty 2010 and then a differently nasty 2011. This doesn't look like a guy to whom a contending team would want to guarantee a starting spot.
But let's take a closer look at Hill's 2011 campaign, shall we?
Hill was dreadful with the Blue Jays last season, but then he was outstanding for a little over a month after getting dealt to the desert. What the Diamondbacks are banking on is that the Hill they saw is more representative of the real Aaron Hill than the Hill they saw in Toronto.
Odds are that isn't true. Hill's recent Toronto sample size overwhelms his recent Arizona sample size, and his recent Toronto sample size is ugly. But then, maybe there's something to be said for success after a change of scenery, and Hill's big 2009 wasn't that long ago. Plus, Chase Field is a pretty good place to hit, so maybe the environment somehow helped Hill to re-discover some old magic.
Maybe Aaron Hill's going to look more like his old self over the next two years. Maybe he won't. Thanks to the way that he finished last season, he'll at least get an opportunity to show that he's got more in the tank.