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Will Aaron Hill be with the D-backs at this time next year?

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When next August rolls around, will Aaron Hill still be a member of the Arizona Diamondbacks?


Aaron Hill is the consummate professional. He’s a great teammate and does what’s asked of him on a nightly basis. However, his contract is too rich for Arizona to handle, and thus far they have not been lucky enough to find a partner to take on Hill and his contract, without say pulling the trigger on a poison pill deal like they did when they sent Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint to the Atlanta Braves.

After this season, Hill will still have one year and $12 million left on his contract, and the team will certainly look at options to move the infielder as they try to recoup some cash before heading into free agency, where they will look for front of the rotation starters and bullpen help.

Still, the price tag remains the same, and if they had trouble swinging a deal before, they’re likely to have trouble finding a deal again. That doesn’t mean that Hill won’t finish out his contract as a member of the Diamondbacks. The odds would probably point toward that he likely does.

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That’s not a bad thing either, as Hill, who will turn 34 before next season, still has a better on base percentage than the two other middle infielders on the team, Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. His bat isn’t horrible and he’s a serviceable in the lineup, just not for what they are currently paying him.

Having a quality or just a tad below quality infielder and a good clubhouse guy is by no means the end of the world, and the Diamondbacks will have to live with the contract they gave him. It’s certainly possible that he could make a great trade candidate at next year’s deadline, or in August, where more than half of his deal for next season will have already been paid. It also makes for the likely money the Diamondbacks will have to eat for the other team, a lot easier.

So will Aaron Hill still be here next season? The Venom Strikes writing staff discusses.

Aug 3, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Aaron Hill (2) signs autographs before the game between the Washington Nationals and the Arizona Diamondbacks at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Lynch

The easy answer is no and I suspect that my colleagues and most fans will respond in the negative. However, I do believe there is a scenario that exists that will have Hill play out the last year of his contract in Arizona.

I believe the possibility exists that either Nick Ahmed or Chris Owings will be dealt in the offseason. Dansby Swanson is already listed as the D-backs’ top prospect and when the organization took him with the first overall pick, the expectation is that he will be in the Majors in fairly short order. That time could come as early as next season. By trading Ahmed or Owings, a starter will need to be found either at second or short. Assuming it’s Ahmed that’s dealt, Owings could slide to short with Hill being the every day man at second.

What about Brandon Drury? He has played third, short and second in the Minors this year and he’ll probably be in Arizona next year (if not sooner) backing up all three positions to start. If it is Owings that is traded, Drury could start at second with Hill being the backup at two spots, third and second just like this year.

Hill will turn 34 during Spring Training. By no means is he done and I think he will be motivated to put up big numbers no matter what role he is assigned to play. If he is the starter on Opening Day, his bat won’t be any worse than Owings and his glove would be at the very least, comparable. The D-backs have done a good job shedding contracts but I believe Hill’s is the one they will see through to the finish.

May 10, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Aaron Hill rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the second inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Joe Jacquez

First of all I think this question can be asked in a couple of different ways. First, do you think Aaron Hill will be on the D-backs next year, or should Aaron Hill be with the D-backs next year?

Those are two completely different questions. The way this question was asked I would have to say if I’m being honest no.

Dave Stewart and the D-backs front office have been looking to trade him for a while most recently before the start of this current season.

On one hand, it’s understandable why Stewart wants to get rid of Hill. At age 33 he is in the back half of his career, and with so much young talent in the infield including Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings, and Jake Lamb, not to mention guys like Brandon Drury that are ready to come up to the majors, there simply won’t be room for Hill.

However, when I’m asked the question should the D-backs keep Hill, I think they would be wise to find a way to keep him around for one more year.

Hill isn’t a free agent till 2017, and is owed $12,000,000 in 2016. Granted he has had a pretty good season for his age, but the D-backs wouldn’t get much value in return for a guy that a team would get for one year at his age unless the Snakes were willing to eat up most of the money, which I don’t think they would.

So with so much talent already in the farm system and no need for value in return why not keep the veteran around for one more year and let him walk especially if another team isn’t going to give you much for a player that could be of some value next season anyway.

Among Ahmed, Owings, and Hill, Hill is the only guy with an OBP above .300 and he has a higher OPS than both Ahmed and Owings and more RBI’s than Ahmed despite having far fewer plate appearances. There is the value.

Right now Hill is on a hot streak and Chip Hale can’t really take him out of the lineup.

Even if the D-backs don’t want to start him, he can be a valuable bat off the bench and a leader in the clubhouse which is more value than the D-backs would get in return for him.

So based on what I have heard do I think the D-backs will keep Hill? No I don’t. If I were Dave Stewart I would keep Hill around for 2016.

Apr 6, 2015; Phoenix, AZ, USA; MLB former commissioner Bud Selig (left) shakes hands with Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill prior to the game against the San Francisco Giants during opening day at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Charles Jackson

I put the odds of Aaron Hill being with the team at this time next year at less than 5%. Going into the final year at $12 million, with no buyout option makes Hill a prime candidate for a dump trade at the deadline next year for a fringe contender looking for lightning in a bottle.

First, he would have to make the team out of spring training. He’s a solid player who has shown a tenacity to succeed after failing in the past. That is going to be hard to do as a 34 year old next season. It is much more likely that he is showing us who he is as a mid-30’s player than experiencing a slight down tick in production.

Next season, Nick Ahmed, Chris Owings and Dansby Swanson will all be around. Although the chance of Swanson beginning the year in the majors is near zero, if he hits in the minors, he will be up sometime in June or July. When he comes, the Diamondbacks must find something to do with Hill. Owings will provide similar, if not better production at a fraction of the cost. Hill is blocked at third by Lamb, Drury, and potentially Yasmany Tomas, depending on how the Diamondbacks want to set up their outfield with the expected promotion of Peter O’Brien.

So, long story short, he could be in town. But in mid-August next season, if he is not traded by the deadline, or in a post-deadline waiver deal, he will probably just get cut to make room for prospects coming up. The business of baseball will get Hill in the end. He either performs well and gets traded, or performs like he has an gets cut in favor of youth. There is no reason for the Diamondbacks to sit on him for the last six weeks of the season if they are getting nothing from him.

Conclusion

This is one of those things that could go either way, but after the Touki Toussaint trade, the team probably isn’t inclined to make a deal like that again. They’ll try to dump Hill if they can, but if not the team will ride it out with Hill, and his tenure in the desert will end up having been nearly five years of solid play.

Hill is a professional, his days as an everyday starter probably are gone now, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be a good role player for whatever club he is on. He has shown this season, he will stick at whatever position that he is put at, and that will certainly benefit himself as well going forward.

The Diamondbacks have given out bad contracts before, and have usually dumped them alongside a good prospect. This time, it probably ends a little differently.

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