Yesterday my colleague Thomas Lynch wrote a very interesting piece explaining his take on the resurgance of Diamondbacks second basemen Aaron Hill at the plate. He talked about that it probably has to do with the trade deadline. I agree with Tom, but for me it works both ways. His increase in production could benifit the Diamondbacks because they might not have to trade him after all, or it could benifit other clubs around the league who are looking for more production from the second base position.
Hill has struggled for most of the 2014 season. As Tom noted in his peice, Hill saw his batting average dip to a season low .239 on July 7th, but recently he has found his stroke in the batters box. Over his last 11 games counting last night, Hill owns an eight game hitting streak with four multi hit games. He is batting .324 over that time peroid. Last night he drove in three of the Dbacks 5 runs helping his team tie the series and set up the decisive rubber match this afternoon.
The Dbacks are clearly selling this season, and with the trade deadline just eight days away, Hill is right in the thick of the second base market. Before he got hot, the Blue Jays who need any kind of production they can get from that position were interested in him. Many other teams including the Oakland Athletics, San Fransisco Giants, New York Yankees, and even the Cincianati Reds with the injury to Brandon Phillips are looking for second base help.
The question is will the Snakes actually decide to move him, especially given his recent hot streak? The Dbacks ownership group and front office believes they can contend in 2015 if they can stay healthy and all the pieces can be on the field at the same time producing. Most experts around the league believe the Dbacks are better than their record shows, and they’re proving it so far in the second half. Hill mentioned in the past that he would like to stay in Arizona long term, and has a family here, so that has to factor in to his decision.
Hill still has a lot left in the tank, and who knows maybe he can get back to being the productive Aaron Hill that we saw back in 2011, when he won the N.L Silver Slugger Award. Maybe the Dbacks want to hold on to the veteran and see what he can give them for the rest of the second half. When Hill wasn’t producing the thinking was they could move him to a contender, and move Didi Gregorius to second base and play Chris Owings at shortstop. Now those plans might have changed especially with Didi not producing as much, and with teams like the New York Mets are interested in him.
The flip side of this story is that Aaron Hill’s market could be expanding around the league with the trade deadline so close, and so many teams desperate for a second basemen to help their run to October. I believe it is already expanding. The Rays who were out of it a month ago are now suddenly in contention for the wild card and the division title in a weak A.L East. Many thought that G.M Andrew Friedman would be willing to deal 2B Ben Zobrist, and starter David Price but now that might be changing.
That opens the door for teams to sign other second basemen. Teams will certianly look at Mets 2B Daniel Murphy, Phillies 2B Chase Utley, and Cubs 2B Emilio Bonifacio among others but Hill, Utley, and Murphy seem to be the best options. Unless the Rays fall out of it in the next five days, Zobrist is probably going to remain in Tampa Bay for the stretch run.
That means that if Hill keeps producing at the pace he is right now, teams are going to be callling the Dbacks about Hill. He might want to go to a contender like the Athletics or the Giants, or he might want to go back to Toronto. I think the Dbacks could get at least a B+ prospect for him, and maybe a bench player. Arizona could use an upgrade for their bench.
The bottom line is don’t be suprised if Hill is moved before the trade deadline, but also don’t be suprised if he stays in Arizona hoping that this team will contend next year.